Learning Doesn’t Take a Holiday

It’s December, the time of year when thoughts turn to . . . competitive intelligence?

On December 9, SLA’s Competitive Intelligence Community hosted an online presentation by Jim Miller, who provides strategic competitive intelligence to businesses, associations, and nonprofit organizations to help them manage their public affairs challenges. The topic of the presentation was continuous learning, which was apropos given that the COVID-19 virus has accelerated the use of technologies that enable individuals and organizations to learn 24/7.

Miller recently founded Your Brain is Not Full, an organization dedicated to building a community of individuals and organizations advocating for the development of a lifelong learning mindset. He focused his presentation on the skills shortages and mismatches plaguing the economy and how he believes CI methods can help discern which jobs will need reskilling and which skills those workers will need.

“I think a lot of the skills we use in our CI programs are also used and utilized in developing a continuous learning mindset, and I see this as sort of strategic foresight for education, training and career planning,” he said. “This is an area that is growing and is certainly going to be rapidly evolving in the near future, in the sense that we need to look at ideas around what roles people will be playing, what jobs they’ll be doing, and what skills they’ll need to participate in the economy in the future. And I think people with a CI background and a foresight background have an excellent role to play in helping to do this.”

The CI Community isn’t the only group within SLA offering educational programming this month, a time when (virtual) holiday parties are crowding business and personal calendars. On December 18, the Michigan Community will host its annual business meeting, which will be followed by a presentation by Sharon Ladenson of Michigan State University Libraries on incorporating anti-racism practices into libraries.

“The Michigan Community usually has a speaker attend the end-of-year gathering,” says Alex Hauser, the Michigan Community’s secretary. “In the past, it has been an in-person event where we’ve gathered in a combination holiday party and annual business meeting. Last year we met at the Detroit Zoo, and the zoo’s director of animal welfare spoke to us about various welfare initiatives.”

On December 21, the SLA Legal Community will present “Data Science Fundamentals,” which will explain what data science is, how it is “done,” and how it relates to topics like big data and artificial intelligence. The presentation will discuss how, and to what extent, data science is relevant to legal librarians—how it is used in empirical legal research to optimize the business of law. The presenter will be Sarah Lin, a former legal librarian and now information architect and digital librarian at RStudio, a data science software company.

In addition to presenting these and other December education events, SLA has extended access to its 2020 conference content through the end of the year. This will give attendees more time to view sessions they missed or want to watch again—proof that, in SLA, learning never takes a holiday.

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