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SLA, Toronto, and PhD or
How a Conference Changed My Life

The SLA Business and Finance Division is again offering an International Travel Award so that "a business information professional from a developing country" can attend the 2007 SLA Annual Conference, in Denver, Colorado, from 3-6 June 2007.

Take note, they're not necessarily looking for librarians. So if you happen to be working in a business-related special library (e.g., PSE, SEC, ADB) or a business school library (e.g., AIM, UP, DLSU), why not apply? Who knows, it might change your life. That's what happened to me.

A few months ago, someone on a listserv that I belong to asked about what those in the group thought of library conferences. Her last question was, "Did it change your life?" And that got me thinking. Here is what I wrote:
last year i was able to attend my first-ever library conference in toronto through an international travel grant from SLA's B&F division (i'm from the philippines and got my MLIS in 2004). and because two other newcomers to the toronto conference weren't around to claim their free registration for this year's conference in baltimore, my name got picked in the raffle.

when i got back to manila, i knew i wouldn't have money to go back this year even though i had free registration. i didn't think it was likely that another SLA division would give me another travel grant, so i kept my eyes open and saw that the society for scholarly publishing was looking for applicants for its conference in annapolis just a week before the SLA one in baltimore. i applied for it and got it.

the SSP and SLA conferences were good not just for networking but the content. SSP was exactly right for me because i had some online and offline publishing experience on the side, and open access was a big thing at the conference, which was smaller than SLA's. in contrast, SLA was so huge that i had to spend more time choosing the sessions i wanted to attend. but since this was my second year, it felt good to see familiar faces. there was also an informal get-together for bloggers, and that was just great.

now i'm back in toronto where i just started my phd, for which i have a fellowship and which i looked into last year while i was here for the toronto conference. just a few hours ago i was talking to stephen abram, SLA president-elect, who was very nice and whom i never thought i'd be able to chat with for more than two seconds. well, he ended up giving me some very useful advice over about twenty minutes regarding my phd AND winter in toronto.

lessons learned: apply for grants, get to know people at the conference, keep in touch, keep learning, and sometimes the stars align just right...

i'm planning to go to more conferences as a student, and avail of the cheaper membership and conference rates. but i'm going to keep on applying for grants, too.

going back to the last of the questions in the original email—"Did it change your life?"—it sure did.

Category: About Vonjobi

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