Meeting Opens Eyes, Doors for New Librarian

If an SLA Annual Conference is akin to a freshman-level survey course—think Special Librarianship 101—a divisional conference is like a doctoral dissertation. The presentations are focused on a specific subject area, the attendees work in that area, the exhibitors serve librarians in that area, and the language—well, if you have to ask what a word or phrase means, you probably shouldn’t be there.

The 2017 Spring Meeting of the SLA Pharmaceutical & Health Technology Division (DPHT) was one such conference. Held April 2–4 at the Loews Philadelphia, the meeting brought together information professionals from around the globe to learn, share ideas, and meet others interested in pharmaceutical and health librarianship and specifically the theme, “Going Beyond with Non-Traditional Data Sources and Data Driven Analytics.”

One of the attendees was Aman Kaur, an early-career information professional and the 2015–2017 Eugene Garfield Resident in Science Librarianship at the University of Pennsylvania. Aman had attended the SLA 2016 Annual Conference, but this was her first DPHT meeting, and she agreed to share her impressions of it by blogging each day on the division’s website.

Given that she’s still new to science librarianship, it’s not surprising that it took Aman a day or so to learn the language. “About halfway through the conference, I started using pharma librarian lingo,” she wrote in her final post. “It is easy to pick up the hot topics within the division when you are surrounded by DPHT members and immersed in the professional development sessions.”

The conference content more than lived up to its billing, covering topics such as deep learning automation, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, precision medicine, the Internet of things, analytics in the pharmaceutical marketplace, and altmetrics. The social and networking opportunities were compelling as well, with the highlight being a scavenger hunt at the Mütter Museum, home to a wide-ranging display of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments.

For Aman, the networking events provided an opportunity to meet fellow professionals who could help her along her career journey. The attendees, she wrote, “. . . were open to talking with me about the education and experiences needed to succeed as a pharmaceutical librarian . . . Several members gave me career advice and offered to review my CV and connect me with potential employers, since they knew that my residency ends later this year.”

Read Aman’s notes and reflections on the conference on the DPHT website.

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