SLA 2017 Recap | Know Your Value, Disobey, and Succeed!

June 16–20, 2017
Phoenix Convention Center | Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Phoenix may have reached temperatures of 119 degrees Fahrenheit, but that didn’t keep 1,515 attendees from having a fresh, thought-provoking, and all-around unforgettable experience at the SLA 2017 Annual Conference.

Blister In The Sun followed by House of the Rising Sun. #sla2017 opening session music is on point. #itsadryheat” – @aainfopro

“Richard Huffine: hotel rooms “cheaper” than temperatures in Phoenix! Lol! True! #SLA2017 – @SaraTIFR



A whopping 96 percent of attendees surveyed would recommend the SLA Annual Conference to a colleague, and 93 percent rated SLA 2017 as good as or better than previous annual conferences.

Very impressed with the SLA branding this year. #SLA2017 #Phoenix” – @informascia

“Loving the table set up for the opening keynote. I can use my laptop so much easier than when it is balanced on my knees. #SLA2017 – @leslieR

“This was easily the best SLA conference I’ve been to since joining SLA in 2011 … It was well thought-out, streamlined, and had lots of time to network and learn. I can definitely say I will be attending Baltimore next year because of this year’s conference.” – Survey respondent

“Best organized SLA conference I have attended! – Marcia Olson, manager of information resources, Gradient

I was only in Phoenix for 1 full day .. but I was delighted by every moment. The networking and sessions, and seeing familiar faces from my old chapter and those in the virutal world was wonderful. – Laura Fu, equipment analyist/project manager, School of Media and Journalism, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Reusable water bottles and hydration stations made possible by sponsor Wolters Kluwer weren’t just a way to beat the heat; they were one of several efforts to make the conference greener. SLA also partnered with American Forests and took part in its American Releaf Program to offset the carbon footprint of the conference. Through the program, SLA donated $1 to American Forests for every SLA 2017 Annual Conference attendee, which enables American Forests to plant one tree for every attendee.


SLA 2017 Highlights:

Exhilarating Opening Keynote with an Unconventional Call to Action
The conference got off to its official start with a rousing presentation by Lulu Miller of NPR. Emphasizing the importance of serendipity in the research process, the Peabody Award-winning science reporter and Invisibilia co-founder took attendees on a riveting murder mystery- and discovery-filled journey with surprising twists and turns.

“Moments of discovery are often preceeded by grumbling at an information professional telling me to do something I don’t want to do – Lulu Miller, science reporter and Invisibilia podcast co-founder, National Public Radio


One such unexpected turn was the advent of a proud new identity for SLA members—borne of a phonetic mix-up but firmly rooted in the realization that information professionals routinely “slay” lies and bad information as part of their occupational quest to guide others to the truth. After acknowledging this job requirement, Lulu challenged attendees to take that one step further by making a concerted effort to routinely disobey the established rules in the profession.

It was start-to-finish a message put together with no other group but a group of special librarians in mind … I’ve not stopped thinking about this talk since I heard it a sure sign that it was worth hearing the first time” – Sally Gore, research evaluation analyst, University of Massachusetts Medical School, in blog post

What if we gave every info request ’10mins of disobedience?’ think of what we find by accident – @lmillernpr #SLA2017 – @librarysquad

” ‘Do your job worse’ –advice from #sla2017 keynote Lulu Miller on disobeying your research instructions, proding outside-thebox info.” – @ShinyDoom

“@lmillernpr’s keynote at #SLA2017 is the best one I’ve heard, I think. Thank you for a great story and a great takeaway!” – @zzelinski

Experience SLA for Career Success
After dancing her way onstage, 2017 SLA President Dee Maganoni advised conference-goers—particularly first-timers—to fully immerse themselves in SLA 2017.

Awesome Prez @deemagnoni had an amazing DANCING entrance! Hope someone got a video! – @SaraTIFR

“#SLA2017 @deemagnoni encouraging first time attendees to stand up, not just in this room, but in all things. – @leslieR

“Engage. Stand up. And own it! #SLA2017 – @meawarren

“SLA President Dee Magnoni opening the conference: stand up! Be the info pro you want to see in the world. #sla2017” – @ShinyDoom


Her advice didn’t end there, though; President Magnoni and Executive Director Amy Lestition Burke urged attendees to take that level of excitement and engagement  and “experience SLA for career success” all year long, through virtual and in-person participation in networking and programming at the unit and association levels.

“Connect conference to the rest of the year for your unit. Build on conf themes throughout the year #SLA2017″ – @ElaineLibrarian

“SLA is my professional home. – Blane Dessy, Library of Congress

“If you are looking for professional involvement and leadership experiences, SLA will certainly provide them to you at annual conference – Jesse Lambertson, Georgetown Law Library

“The BEST place to connect with colleagues, both new and old, vendors and get the educational experiences I need to succeed in my profession! – Survey respondent

Loyalty Club Toast
Die-hard SLA supporters mingled, reminisced, and shared excitement about the future at an exclusive SLA Loyalty Club event. The Loyalty Club recognizes SLA members who have donated $100 or more to support SLA.


Awards and Honors
SLA recognized 12 members (pictured below, with 2017 SLA President Dee Magnoni) for their dedication and contributions to the association and the information profession at large. This year the awards presentations were split up among the three general sessions:

John Cotton Dana Award: Doris Small Helfer
SLA Hall of Fame: Lawrence Guthrie and Leigh Hallingby
SLA Fellows: Khalilah Gambrell, Richard Huffine, Debal Kar, Tara Murray, and Sara Tompson
Rose L. Vormelker Award: Kim Dority (not pictured because was not able to attend)
SLA Rising Stars: Chrystelle Browman, Marie Cannon, and John Kromer



Doris Small Helfer SO deserves the John Cotton Dana Award! Woot! Congratulations! #SLA2017” – @desertlibrarian

I like the sprinkling awards throughout #SLA2017 as each honoree is not lost in a sea of honorees in a session that goes on way too long. – @leslieR

Taking Time to Break a Sweat (and Not Because of the Heat)
Whether working out in a hotel gym, participating in a FitBit challenge, or taking part in one of the three organized health and wellness activities—yoga, water aerobics, and the November project—many conference attendees worked out during SLA 2017!


“My first water aerobics class, ever #conference goals #SLA2017 – @thehearinglib

Short easy run tomorrow at 6am. Meet in the Sheraton lobby. #SLA2017 #slarunners #itsadryheat.– @diylibrarian

Continuing Education Courses and Educational Sessions
Before Sunday’s Opening General Session, the conference was already well underway, with Friday’s and Saturday’s continuing education and certificate courses.


The number of learning opportunities increased as the conference progressed. All in all, attendees learned from more than 110 educational sessions—offered at various content levels (fundamental, intermediate, and master) and covering a host of job-relevant subjects.

Multiple, excellent, on-point sessions in the subject specialities for which I am responsible at my university libraries – Tony Stankus, distinguished professor and life sciences librarian, University of Arkansas Libraries

SLA 2017 provided me the right information at the right time to help my organization – Survey respondent


#at a session featuring @US_IMLS projects and how to use them in special libraries to stay on trend #SLA2017 #SLAers – @librarysquad

Hearing from #ColonelJill & already impressed. @SLA_DMIL always has such great sessions  #SLA2017 – @joy_m_banks

Loving the talk on measuring and quanifying value of library services -so many new ideas for reports and finding our specific ROIs  #SLA2017 – @Amyodo

In addition to raving about the content of the educational sessions, conference attendees were enthusiastic about the ease of navigating from one session to the next.


Know what I love about this sign? That there is ONE arrow. Everything is in the same wing this year! #sla2017 @slahq – @KnowldgeLinking

Love these signs! #sla2017 @slahq – @mbromley

Want to revist a session or check out one that you missed? Learn how here.

Grand Opening of the INFO-EXPO
A Mariachi band provided the perfect musical interlude as SLA President Dee Magnoni and Executive Director Amy Lestition Burke led a procession to the INFO-EXPO, where 132 exhibitors were waiting expectantly for the ribbon to be cut and exhibit hall to be opened.



Being led to the exhibition by a Mariachi band. Of course we are! #onlyatsla #SLA2017 – @joeyanne

Fantastic mariachi music at #SLA2017; love this touch of the SW! #SLA2017 #SLAers – @SearchBroad

In addition to speaking face-to-face with exhibitors about the latest technological advances for the information profession, INFO-EXPO visitors also attended Exhibitor Theater presentations and networking events like an ice cream social featuring ice cream made from scratch!



Very productive time in Info-Expo at #SLA2017! Discovered useful STEM resources for K-12!!! #win! – @jamesmanasco

This is a wonderfully put together conference full of fantastic sessions and a well put-together tradeshow.” – Jessica Nall, technical librarian, CoorsTek

#meetingKitty approves handmade ice cream and topping in Info Expo this afternoon. #noms #SLA2017 – @MeetingKitty

Main Street SLA
In addition to being a comfortable and convenient place to take a breather between activities, Main Street SLA was a prime locale for attendees to learn more about various SLA divisions, chapters, and caucuses.


Are you an Embedded librarian? Visit us at our booth in the Info-Expo and take our quiz to find out! #EmbeddedLib #SLA2017! – @SLAEmbedded

I am at the KM kiosk until 3PM. Stop by and talk all things KM. #sla2017 #slakmd – @wdcook12

“Repping @SLAWCC at the grand opening of the #SLA2017 Info-Expo! I love the new mingling area @SLAhq organized this year! – @BronwynMaye

Great to hear success of Main Street kiosks in signing up new members to divisions from Victoria North at SLA Legal division #sla2017 @slahq – @saywhat32

The Park
This year was the debut of The Park, a place for attendees to let loose and play some games in between other conference activities. It also was the site of a competition in which teams engaged in a little friendly competition over ping pong, corn hole, and jumbo-sized Jenga and Connect Four. Though competition was fierce, a three-person team emerged victorious: Jennifer Swanson, Elizabeth Kuntz, and Kelly Bunting. The prize? Trophies, Starbucks gift cards, and best of all, bragging rights.



The Mobile App
Conference attendees fought to the finish—the photo finish, that is—in the SLA 2017 Mobile App game, Click.


We’re pleased to announce the winners of Click, who’ll receive complimentary registration for SLA 2018 or a one-year SLA membership: John Kromer, Anya Bartelmann, Janis Shearer, and Elizabeth Kuntz.

Want to see more fun photos from SLA 2017? Check out the Activity Feed!

Dream Jobs Panel
This year was the exciting debut of a third general session. Monday’s session showcased a “Dream Jobs for Info Pros” panel moderated by 2017 Annual Conference Advisory Council Chair Brandy King and featuring Rosie Lindquist from The Hershey Company, Brendan Thompson from Uber Technologies, and Robin Dodge from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Audience members seized the opportunity to ask panelists quesions about the organizations they worked for and welcomed career advice. One key takeaway? Information professionals need to stop undervaluing themselves.

Dream Jobs: Part of being a successful #infopro is always being ahead of the change that will always come #SLA2017 – @joy_m_banks



“Brendan Thompson: ‘Let’s stop undervaluing ourselves-negotiate your pay’ #SLA2017 – @NadineFAnderson

“The diversity of SLA pushes me forward faster.’ Robin Dodge @SLAhq #sla2017” – @mandosally

“Robin Dodge: Say ‘yes’ to the people below you & ‘no’ to the people above you.” – @ShinyDoom

“Outstanding to hear about the culture of volunteerism at Hershey in the Dreamjobs Panel at #SLA2017. Company encourages it! MPOW does too.” – @ShinyDoom

Helping the Next Generation
SLA joined forces with Kids Need to Read, an organization based in Mesa, Arizona, and collected children’s books at the conference. The donations will benefit underfunded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States, especially those serving disadvantaged children.


“Grabbed a bunch of like-new books my kids had outgrown for @kidsneedtoread! SLA Gives Back at #SLA2017! @SLAhq #iamalibrarian #SLAers – @KnowldgeLinking

Getting Together with Colleagues …
Attendees were anything but shy and got to know each other and reconnect with old friends in settings ranging from dine arounds at local restaurants to a reception for First Timers and Fellows to the infamous dance party hosted annually by the IT Division.

“The power of connection is at the heart of #SLA2017 – @kimberlysilk



“Renewed contacts made at my 1st SLA; ran into @coplibrarian & @dcappoi at am mtg for students & new pros – networking win! @SLAhq #sla2017 – @j_vvsm

1st Annual SLA Cider Meetup exceeded expectations! Super awsome night, great crowd, pics to follow. Thank you ALL for joining me. #SLA2017” – @annenb

“first timers orientation was a great start to my #SLA2017!
Looking forward to the @SoloSLA dinner tonight!!”
– @librarysquad

“First night dinner with the PAMily. #SLAPAM #SLA2017  – @jeffradiane

… and Getting Down on the Dance Floor
Turns out there were quite a few rock stars attending SLA 2017. They showed off their dance moves at the IT dance party.



#SLA2017 IT Dance Party! Repping @slapittsburgh – @rsplenda477

Must give kudos to the #sla2017 IT dance party dj.. he killed it!!!! I had too much fun! – @meawarren

SLA: join for the career development, stay for the dance parties. #sla2017” – @kimberlysilk

An “Out of this World” Closing Keynote
In his stellar closing keynote presentation, Dr. Moriba Jah of the University of Texas at Austin and formerly of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory described the daunting task of tracking “space junk.” HIs presentation created quite a stir among attendees, several of whom expressed interested in working on an ontology like this.


More keynotes like this, please! An SLA outsider w/ fascinating applications for our profession, expertise, & abilities. @moribajah #SLA2017” – @ShinyDoom

“NASA librarians with #SLA2017 keynote @moribajah ! – @SaraTIFR

“#slaers & UTiSchool please talk to @moribajah about a future collab on tracking & IDing space junk! #SLA2017 #sla17 #slaphoenix – @akaur0

“And what an awesome conclusion to #SLA2017 Moriba! Got SLAers all pumped up in that 121F heat! – @EllenNaylor

Boldly Go …
And continuing on an intergalactic theme, Dee Magnoni issued a final charge to attendees: To boldly go where no librarian or info pro has gone before.


“I <3 the Star Trek TNG nod, @deemagnoni gave us at the end of the final keynote: Boldly Go! #SLA2017 – @ShinyDoom

“Is this seriously a library conference? Well done @SLAhq #SLA2017 closing with Star Trek theme – @dchristerocks

Worth the Trip and the Heat Index?
Without a doubt. In addition to reinforcing and forging valuable connections, attendees left with job-relevant knowledge that they’ve already begun to apply back at work.

“Sad to be leaving #sla2017 but my brain and heart are full. I’ve found my tribe. – @tweedlibrarian

“This was my first SLA conference, and I was extremely impressed … Thank you everyone for the friendship and knoweldge gained – Charlotte Bonham, humanities & social science catalog librarian, United States Air Force Academy


“I used something I learned at a session on outreach at the conference to solve a problem as soon as I got back to the office – Survey respondent

I came back to my library with several ideas I could implement right away and others to consider for the future. Because I work in such a specialized environment, it’s energizing to have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with other information professionals – Tara E. Murray, librarian and director of information services, American Philatelic Research Library

“SLA’s annual conference, now more than ever, is the professional association event with the largest degree of sessions relevant to my job. I always get new ideas from SLA! – Survey respondent

Ann Marie, you and the SLA staff did a terrific job! Your hearfelt dedication and commitment showed. The Phoenix conf was way better than I ever imagined. I’ve been telling people that on a scale of 1 to 10, the conference was a 12 for me – Kimberly Yang, librarian and affiliate assistant professor of pharmaceutical health services research, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

See you in Baltimore!
After a conference experience that won’t soon be forgotten, many attendees are already counting down to SLA 2018, which will be held June 9–13 in Baltimore. We can’t wait to see you there!



SLA staff would like to thank all who made SLA 2017 an enriching and memorable experience:

  • Attendees and exhibitors
  • Brandy King and the 2017 Annual Conference Advisory Council
  • SLA Arizona Chapter
  • Unit planners and presenters
  • Keynotes and dream jobs panelists
  • SLA Board of Directors



Brandy is indeed a fine girl. Thank you for being the #SLA2017 Conference Chair. Welcome to the Past Conf Chair Club, @KnowldgeLinking! – @LibrarySherpa

Thanks #SLA2017 Conference Planning Committee led by Brandy King @KnowldgeLinking, SLA staff & SLA Board for great meeting! #SLAers @SLAhq – @vperryky

Thanks to @SLAhq staff, @KnowldgeLinking and 2017 ACAC for another spectacular conference! – @annenb

And as always, thank you to our partners for supporting the SLA 2017 Annual Conference and the INFO-EXPO:


If you loved SLA 2017 or wish you had attended, (re)experience the learning, connections, and inspiration at the SLA 2018 Annual Conference in Baltimore.


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