I arrived at the conference centre at noon for the first day of the conference, to find a message from my Leadership and
Management Division (co-sponsors of my award) mentor, Sylvia, asking me to meet her at the information point. It was great to finally meet Sylvia: we’d emailed each other previously, but I hadn’t met her in person yet. Sylvia very kindly invited me to the SLA Fellows board meeting, which was fascinating: it was great to hear about the work that the Fellows do, and be privy to one of their brainstorming sessions. I also got to sit next to Stephen Abrams, which left me a bit starstruck – I’m a big fan of his blog! I also managed to pick up another ribbon for my badge: it says “Align in ’09”, in reference to the Alignment project.
After the meeting I met Annie, Sara and Beth at the InfoExpo, and headed into the First-Timers reception. Got chatting to some very interesting people, including quite a lot of American LIS students. Interesting to hear how the US library school experience compares with the UK: by the sounds of things, certainly the course at City seems to be more practically focussed than the students here reported.
In the afternoon, we all filed into the ballroom for the awards presentation and keynote speech. The awards were all doled out to some very deserving people, judging by the videos shown to introduce each recipient – I was impressed by what innovative work some of our American colleagues are obviously doing.
The keynote speaker was General Colin Powell, who was a very engaging speaker. I have to admit, I hadn’t expected him to be as entertaining as he was. I’d be hard pressed to think of a British politician who could deliver a speech with as much wit and charisma! There were a few “yay America!” moments which made me a little uncomfortable – I wasn’t sure whether I should just cheer along, regardless of the fact that what was being cheered didn’t really mean anything to me! It was nice to see so little cynicism: again, I couldn’t imagine a British equivalent of that speech.
I stayed for drinks for a while at the opening reception, after the speech, then headed over to the Leadership and Management Division (LMD) Open House. I managed a bit of networking there (many thanks to @bethanar for the networking tips – I now know how to spot an “open two”!), then went to meet Anne Caputo in the lobby ready for our Washington-by-night tour. During the course of the day we’d met up with Cindy, the SLA Asia student award winner, so she joined us too. It was a fantastic tour – Anne is very knowledgeable about the history of the city, and Washington really is beautiful by night. I’m especially glad that I got to see the Vietnam memorial by night it is utterly different, and far more moving than in the daylight. In fact, that would be my one tip for anyone planning a trip to Washington in the future – if you go to the Vietnam Memorial, go after dark.
After that we just went back to the hotel for a decent night’s sleep: early starts all round Monday!