Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Librarians Buck Convention for Cinco de Mayo

By Chris Vestal

The heart and soul of Cinco de Mayo is defying the odds in the face of overwhelming adversity (to read about the history of the holiday see While no one actually engaged in combat this year, DC/SLA honored the holiday by keeping this theme in mind with speakers in unconventional careers.

Barbara Ferry and staff at the National Geographic Society Library hosted a lively celebration in the library’s space. Beginning with a trivia/scavenger hunt in the library stacks. The National Geographic Society’s library staff provided the trivia questions, posted them throughout the stacks, and even made some of the library’s resources available to answer them. Attendees entered their answers into a drawing for prizes, including gift cards, jewelry, and books published by National Geographic. Questions really ran the gamut of history, geography, and culture and included challenging ones, such as “What fruit is traditionally eaten in the evening to break the fast of Ramadan?” To hear all the questions and see the prizes see

Following the scavenger hunt and networking over tacos and margaritas, attendees broke into small groups and rotated among five speakers. Each speaker talked with individual groups about their non-traditional careers in this challenging economy.

Dave Hemingway-Turner, sales consultant for Innovative Interfaces, wowed some of the attendees by admitting that in the last 15 years he hasn’t had to apply for any of the jobs he’s had. He stressed the importance of forming connections with colleagues through professional associations like SLA.

Jennifer Whitfield, Outreach and Communications for the Joint Bank-Fund Library, spoke about the value of marketing and the challenges of developing communications and training material for multicultural environments. Whitfield is also a member of the Internal Association of Business Communicators and quipped that she hasn’t yet encountered any librarians who are also members.

Larry Lempert, Director of Product Research and Planning with BNA, noted that he enrolled in an MLS program to learn about Information Architecture and enhance his work at BNA, years after earning his law degree. He believes that librarians’ technical skills are easily transferable to positions that involve optimizing users’ experiences.

The National Geographic Society also contributed a speaker to the program: Ariel Deiaco-Lohr, account representative in the Society’s International Licensing and Alliances, talked about her experience in international publishing. Deiaco-Lohr spoke about the work she does to facilitate more localized content in the Society’s Traveler magazine.

View all the videos from the Cinco de Mayo event at the DC/SLA group on Youtube at or view one of the videos of the scavenger hunt below:

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