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Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday Discussion: Favorite Things About Conferences

Although I am not going to ALA Annual this year [long story involving a huge party being thrown in the honor to celebrate 4 decades since my birth], I will be following it online.

But ALA is not the only conference in town.  And you do not only need to go to conferences that involve getting on an airplane, finding childcare, or being away from home for a week. In fact, there are many conferences and full day meetings that happen in our field all of the time, all over the place.

Conferences are a great time for librarians to get together and collaborate, network, and learn from one and other. Even something like the programs we have for ARRT [like this free one coming up soon] can have more benefit for you to develop your skills and re-charge your batteries than you might realize.

For me, I love meeting people from different libraries. I like going to programs that discuss topics both those that are new to me AND those I feel like I have a good handle on.  In fact, programs on the topics I feel like I “know” are my favorite thing about conferences.  I like to see my areas of expertise through the eyes of others.  Often, this show me something I have never thought of before. Sometimes we get so caught up in how we do things [especially if they are working out well] that we forget to consider new ideas. I am always looking for new ideas and approaches to RA service.  And if I am, you should be too!

I feel like there is an energy when librarians get together in person. As a profession we may be introverts-- although I certainly am not-- but when we are all in the room together, and start talking about our work with leisure readers, a low murmur becomes a loud hum, turns into animated conversations, evolves into boisterous exchanges. I have seen it happen. That energy itself, along with the ideas, experiences and thoughts we share combine into a powerful force. It is an energy we carry back to our libraries and share with staff and patrons. And when that happens, everybody is a winner!

I am hoping all of you who read this will pledge to attend at least 1 meeting or conference in the coming months.  You need to feel this power, collect it for yourself, and then bring it back to your library. If you don’t think your supervisor will allow it, contact me and I can help you craft your argument.  Or feel free to simply pass this post on.

Here are some of my suggestions in my area.

If you live in Illinois, why not consider a trip to Peoria for the first event joint Illinois Library Association conference. Online registration opens on July 10th.  RA for All is a conference sponsor and I will be presenting for ARRT. [Details soon]

Or, save the date for December 9th when ARRT will have an all-day mini-library conference at the Naperville Public Library 95th Street Branch. [Details this Fall]

But I know not everyone who reads this blog lives in Illinois. So for today’s Monday Discussion, share some conferences or meetings, both big and small, that you plan on attending. But also tell me your favorite things about attending any meeting.  Basically, why do you make the effort to be there in person? What do you get out of it besides a day or more out of the office.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

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