I have been looking for a word to describe the 2008 SLA Annual Conference. While the participants were networking with enthusiasm and were bouncing from session to session with alacrity, the word that comes to mind is “anxiety”. People I spoke to were glad to be in Seattle but realized many of their colleagues were unable to make it due to budget constraints. I had a sense people were thinking they might not be able to attend next year. I overheard a discussion about more corporate library closings. Another conversation was about how the Association needed the change more quickly, as information technology was changing rapidly and the demographics of the SLA were not. Finally, some vendors implied that they were there as a courtesy to the organization they had grown up with, but they acknowledged the bulk of the power and the money to buy things had left the information center and its inhabitants years ago.
So if some vendors attend as a courtesy, and the demographics are skewing the wrong way, and if change is occurring slowly, and libraries are closing and attendees are unsure they can attend, what I think you get is anxiety.