Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Hello again from the Special Libraries Association 2003 Annual Conferece!

I was able to get to a computer in the Cyber Connection, so I have a quick chance to write about the News Division sessions I attended today.

Debra Bade of the Chicago Tribune led a terrific panel about change. Debra began by talking about the results of an e-mail survey she sent out via Newslib a few weeks ago. Roger Strauss of Outsell talked about results of two annual surveys his company administers. That survey shows that while librarians still describe their positions in traditional terms, they spend less time doing traditional duties. Geoff LoCicero of IFRA Newsplex at the University of South Carolina talked about his nontraditional news librarian job and the changes his career has taken. Roberta Piccoli, who is now a consultant, talked about the changes she instituted throughout her career, most of which was at the advertising firm J. Walter Thompson in Chicago. She advised us to take advantage of change because it can really be a good thing for us, our information centers, and our careers.

The Palm Beach Post's Sammy Alzofon moderated a discussion about commercial sources for public records this afternoon. Sandy Levy of The Baltimore Sun and Liz Donovan of The Miami Herald shared excellent tips on sources for public records, focusing on criminal records and personal information, like access to driver's licenses. They all cautioned that public records from commercial sources are not always accurate, that some sources charge for records that might be available elsewhere for free, and that it is critical to pay attention to laws governing access to and use of public records. Sometimes, public records might be easily available, but cannot be used legally for journalistic endeavors. They also cautioned to make sure that journalists who have access to commercial public records databases know how to use the databases and the information in them properly. Sammy said they plan to make the useful handouts from this session available on the News Division Web site, perhaps after the conference.

I did not attend today's last afternoon session about training the trainers, but Carolyn Edds of IRE said it was good when I saw her in the hallway moments ago. I'm going to head up to the News Division Suite now for the silent auction. I heard there are going to be some great things for sale there, like a moose Charlie Campo of the Bangor Daily News brought from Maine.

--Jessica Baumgart


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