SLA2014: How YOU Doin’? Part 1 – general thoughts on the Vancouver conference

Yes I know it’s been a while since I last did a post. Well, here it goes! This is going to be split into a few posts because I’ve got a lot to put out there for contemplation and maybe reaction.

This past week I participated in the SLA2014 annual conference in Vancouver, BC. There are so many positives to participating (note, I don’t say attend because passiveness at a conference doesn’t get you very much payback). Anyway, when I go to these events I look forward to seeing friends and colleagues from all over the world, share ideas, discuss issues, learn a few things, talk to vendor partners and potential new ones who can help me with needs of my library services and institution, maybe share a few pearls of wisdom – ok share a lot whether you want to hear them or not ;-), and have some fun too.

A side note — When I arrived at LAX and got off the parking lot shuttle I walked to the entrance door for Air Canada and was struck really hard in the leg by a luggage trolley that a kid was swinging around. I felt like Nancy Kerrigan when she was hit with that bat by Tonya Harding’s boyfriend. It soon hurt so bad and continued to hurt on and off during most of the conference. Put me out of sorts a bit and I didn’t dance much at all — that’s right, I didn’t dance but a little bit Sunday night at a dinner event and not at all at the IT dance party.

OK back to the conference. I have to talk about the good stuff first because that is so unlike me. Yep I said it! Overall the conference was worth the trip as it usually is. There is also some stuff that isn’t so good and I’ll mention a few briefly but the details will be covered in future posts.

Cameron and I on the train from Vancouver airport to downtown. Inexpensive and a nice way to get into town in reasonable time.

Cameron and I on the train from Vancouver airport to downtown. Inexpensive and a nice way to get into town in reasonable time.

After stopping to pick up my conference registration and dropping off stuff at the hotel (more on that in a short bit) I went to the First Timers event hosted by SLA Fellows. From there we went to our annual dinner. This time it was the Cactus Club Cafe along the harbor. Everyone had good food – well except I got the tough steak, but they covered my drinks so it worked out. Anyway, here are a few pics from that night:

SLA Fellows Dinner in Vancouver

Ann, Mary Ellen, James and others at the SLA Fellows Dinner in Vancouver

SLA Fellows Dinner in Vancouver

Kate, Bill, Monica and Mary at the SLA Fellows Dinner in Vancouver

SLA Fellows Dinner in Vancouver

Peter, Ruth, Wei, Dorothy and others at the SLA Fellows Dinner in Vancouver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the conference itself I spent a lot of my time in the INFO-EXPO on purpose so I could get the information I needed for projects at work. I was on a mission. If I found time for sessions (and there were a lot of good ones to try and attend), I would go to them – I really didn’t have the time other than some unit business meetings and presentations in them. As a result I brought back key items for use at work regarding discovery tools, updates on content management systems, new tools for citation management at the institution level, possible different ways to pay for and deliver content, a small bit of swag, and nice conversations with vendor partners and colleagues during dinners around town.

Dinner sponsored by Soutron Global at the Salmon House across the bay. Fun evening with happy people, good food, fun entertainer on a synthesizer, incredible views of Vancouver and more, and a bit of dancing.

Dinner sponsored by Soutron Global at the Salmon House across the bay. Fun evening with happy people, good food, fun entertainer on a synthesizer, incredible views of Vancouver and more, and a bit of dancing.

Not so good was the total mess up by SLA Housing Bureau that should never, ever, ever be used again. I tried reserving a room just a few days after housing registration opened up. Nope, ALL rooms at the conference hotels were unavailable except for a waiting list. The kicker was that some nights were available but NOT the Tuesday night. WTF?!!! The conference was scheduled until 6PM Tuesday, so how many people were going to be able to leave that day if they wanted to attend the business meeting and final panel? (Yep I used the ‘attend’ word and more on that in a future post — a LOT to say on that topic)
I tried 3 days in a row to find a room and was even willing to pay the ‘harbor view’ price but nothing changed. Others told me they even called and got no help along with big attitude. Apparently a few weeks later some rooms became available but not for long. Didn’t know that until too late. Good thing my roommate’s company had a block of rooms so we had some place to stay. It was the Westin Bayshore. Nice place and rooms, though the closet was in the bathroom — yep, in the bathroom. I’ve traveled all over the world, but never saw that before! Bad news: it was one of the farthest places from the Convention Center.

Yachts docked in Vancouver harbor with Westin Bayshore hotel in background

Yachts docked in Vancouver harbor with Westin Bayshore hotel in background

An up side to that was I got some nice exercise and walks along the harbor shoreline and through the park paths and enjoyed seeing the people and scenery.

Park along Vancouver Bay shoreline

Park along Vancouver Bay shoreline

 

Mother Mallard duck guiding her duckling back to a nearby pond. So cute! Everyone gave them plenty of room and let them proceed to the side before continuing on.

Mother Mallard duck guiding her duckling back to a nearby pond. So cute! Everyone gave them plenty of room and let them proceed to the side before continuing on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know I’ve posted some pics and talked about stuff out of chronological order, but that’s the way it is. Almost done for this post and look for “SLA: How YOU Doin’? Part 2: The Business Meeting that Wasn’t”. I’ll be getting into some tough love folks, tough love!

Lastly, a good decision was to buy some Godiva chocolate from the Duty Free shop on the way home. Jumped right to the end but it was too good to wait! I had to use at least some of that leftover Canadian cash. What? I walked by all the alcohol and went for chocolate — the folks at work are VERY glad I did!

2 responses to “SLA2014: How YOU Doin’? Part 1 – general thoughts on the Vancouver conference

  1. Richard, several people – including myself – had problems with the Housing Bureau this year. The fact that rooms weren’t available or that you needed to be placed on a wait list turned people to go through other sources to find a room. Vancouver has a high influx of people coming to get on a cruise ship, which impacts the rest of us travelers. I ended up not at one of the conference hotels and had a 20 minute walk to get the Convention Centre.

    I’m glad that you spent a lot of time in the exhibit hall. It would be nice if the exhibits could be more central – meaning that more happens in that space. For example, put the Quick Takes in the exhibit hall. I liked that the one poster session was in the exhibit hall, but wish that it hadn’t been off in a corner. In other words, if there are meaning events in the exhibit hall, then people will go there and that would benefit the exhibitors.

  2. Thanks for the pics Richard & the associated commentary. I will follow the rest of your blog in anticipation.
    On the room availability, a similar thing happened a couple of years ago when I was trying to get a room, so I’ll share:
    Registration was announced & rooms were available, so the information read. In fact, when I proceeded I received the response that there were no rooms available. Since this had been announced a week or so prior I contacted SLA Headquarters, thinking there must be a problem with the system software. I explained the situation & was told that it was open only for the LEADERSHIP so they could have whatever their choices were before the members in general. I wondered about the definition of leadership, but after a few minutes of discussion, it was obvious that nothing was seen amiss & it sounds to me as if nothing has been done to correct this. I recall we were usually told when we “leaders” could register & when the general announcement would go out at a later date & advised to get our rooms early so that we wouldn’t be disappointed.
    I was so thoroughly aggravated by the process & more so by the attitude I decided that I didn’t need a room after all, & cancelled my conference registration. This was the first missed conference, summer or winter meeting, for me since 1972.

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