By Michelle Rigual, SWALL 2017 Local Arrangements Committee Chair
Nearly sixty attendees and exhibitors gathered at the Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the SWALL 2017 Annual Meeting, held April 6-8. The theme was Outreach and Access: No Half Measures. “Half Measures” and “Full Measure” were the titles of two infamous episodes from Breaking Bad, a popular TV series set in Albuquerque. Inspired by the theme, Breaking Bad imagery appeared on the meeting website, signage, and name tags, and attendees received baggies of the locally produced candy that served as blue meth on the show.
To limit expense and waste, there were no conference tote bags or printed programs. In their place, each person received only a drink tumbler for desert hydration and a single-page Quick Guide to events and their locations. Attendees quickly adapted; those seeking detailed information used the hotel’s wireless internet to access the meeting website.
The Meeting officially kicked off on Thursday with the Opening Lunch, sponsored by LexisNexis, and speaker Prof. Cliff Villa from University of New Mexico School of Law. Prof. Villa presented Is the Act of God Dead?, a thought provoking and moving discussion of the extent to which natural disasters can be anticipated and avoided. The presentation drew from a diversity of sources including Thomas Jefferson, Nietzsche, Shakespeare, and the Wizard of Oz. Afternoon programs included Guerilla Marketing, Oil and Gas Law Research, The Politics of Food in the Southwest, plus four Ignite Talks of just slightly over five minutes each on the Internet of Things, decluttering your library, county law library outreach and access, and the history of women in the U.S. military. Thursday’s events were capped off with an opportunity, sponsored by Thomson Reuters, for attendees to network and socialize in a relaxed environment with live Spanish guitar, complimentary drinks, and excellent hors d’oeuvres.
Friday’s schedule was chock-full. The day’s educational content started with a plenary session provided by New Mexico Supreme Court Law Library Director Lynne Rhys on the timely subject of Library Activism in a Post-Fact Era. After the plenary, programming split back into two tracks, one focused on topics of interest to academic librarians, the second more varied. Programs included You Can’t Write Without Research: Tips for Helping Students with Scholarly Research Papers; Research Assessment in Doctrinal Classes; Sight, Sound and the Law: Common Issues in Audiovisual Production; Texas State Law Library’s Digital Collection: It is Remotely Possible!; and a two-part Deep Dive entitled Where’s My Free Lawyer? Legal Reference to the Pro Se Patron. The association business meeting was held just after lunch and time was set aside in the afternoon for committee meetings.
The final educational events of the day were two concurrent roundtables for government and academic law librarians. After a short break, attendees hopped a bus to the UNM Law Library for a reception featuring Latin fusion appetizers, local beers and wines, and the UNM Library staff proudly showing off the library’s many special features. Dine Arounds followed for those who had the willpower to not overindulge in duck taquitos at the reception.
Energy and attendance remained high on Saturday for a full morning of programming. Sessions included Introduction to Securities Law Research, UNM Law Librarians’ Fight for Law Faculty Status, Chapter Website Redesign: HALL Membership Services Move to the Cloud, The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Law Libraries, Build Your Own Digital Repository, and Getting Published: My Story of Writing and Publishing a Judge’s Biography.
Exhibit Hall breaks, dedicated meeting time for attendees and exhibitors, were held each morning and afternoon. In addition, sponsors provided product demonstrations during no-conflict times before and after scheduled programming.
Thank you to all the speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and members who attended the 2017 Meeting. The Local Arrangements Committee enjoyed hosting and is extremely pleased that the feedback on it has been overwhelmingly positive. We look forward to #Diversify #SWALL2018 #Houston.