Contributed by Susan Swanepoel, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC)
Attending the SAOIM is always a big highlight for my colleagues and myself. Our InfoCentre is always available to all staff, but this is the time that my manager says she is closing the InfoCentre for 2 days. We do leave a name and number to call for emergencies and physical access is still possible. Maybe our clients appreciate us even more when we are back? They do say so! Continuous learning has a high priority in our company. All 8 of us also each attended one workshop. I attended Karen Blakeman’s workshop and I’m sure I’m going to get better search results using her tips.
As usual, all the speakers were all of an excellent standard. I follow Stephen Abram, Karen Blakeman, Michael Stephens and Derek Moore on Twitter, but to see and hear them live was an experience. One can only pick up so much by reading a presentation from Slideshare or Authorstream and actually being in the audience where they presented was a real learning experience. One slide from a presentation contains so much more information that was explained personally than just what is pinned down in ink.
The networking experience is always a highlight. Not only to see old “colleagues”, but to meet new contacts that one can call on in future for ideas or help.
I learned from the exhibitors as we don’t normally get academic publishers coming to our offices. I enjoyed the exhibitors’ presentations that I attended.
I always use the SAOIM conference as a ”benchmarking tool” of where we as an InfoCentre stand in terms of what library technologies are out there and of new services, etc. that we can implement. I realized that academic libraries are functioning in the “open” web 2.0 sphere whereas us as a special library function behind a firewall. Our institutional repository is confidential. I tweet in my personal capacity as we have a media policy where staff is not allowed to talk about the company in any media. I do believe that web 2.0 facilities and functions will be used more and more within the firewall in our own Sharepoint environment. We are starting to making more use of web 2.0 as a source of information and to find experts in certain fields.
I enjoyed the Twitter stream while the sessions were on and followed for a bit on my cellphone. I find it difficult to tweet and listen at the same time, (I’m not of generation Y) but I also did contribute to the Twitter stream. Reaching others outside the room is an amazing achievement via technology and I stand in awe with how many people were reached.
Having done research for our Media Strategic Business Unit on the animation genre, I thoroughly enjoyed the UP information literacy gaming programme where they teach 1st years how to use the library. Animated gaming is becoming the new way of teaching and learning. In our Special Library information literacy training is very personalised, on an individual basis according to the client’s needs and the subject field. Our clients are already qualified chartered accountants and professional engineers working in a Strategic Business Unit doing due diligences and finance deals. That does not mean that they know how or where to search for specialised information. These sessions are also used for marketing our InfoCentre and to establish yourself as an expert in your client’s eyes. Like Tom Peters says: you have to build your personal brand, and I say do this in order to become embedded with your client and his Business Unit.
“The Internet of Things” paper by Louis Coetzee, Meraka Institute, CSIR was an eye-opener as to where technology might lead us in future. We are definitely in for even more technological changes.
Bibliometrics as mentioned by Ina Smith & Naomi Visser of the University of Stellenbosch was a foreign concept to me as a special librarian. Our clients do not publish and they also don’t want a list of references from me, they want the answer to their question(s) and sometimes they want to know on which page(s) the answer appears in the document(s) that I send them. Like Pavlinka Kovatcheva said: we have to gain more subject knowledge of the fields that we work in. This is also important for being an embedded librarian. According to this benchmark, we are well on track in our organisation.
Ina Fourie’s presentation on time to work on zones of intervention made me realize that we do just that via our company-wide innovation drive. Our clients’ requests on our electronic innovation platform let us know about our shortcomings which we can work on, e.g. audiobooks. By keeping innovation at the back of our minds in our Strategy sessions, we also incorporate new technology developments in our daily work lives e.g. our Delicious bookmarks that are on our A-Z list on our website.
I cannot wait for the next conference. Congratulations to the committee and the organisers for a fantastic event!