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Friday, June 29, 2018

ALA Annual Conference Report: Call to Action-- Go to a Conference, Any Conference

Today I am combining my final ALA wrap up conference report with a Call to Action. Every single time I go to a conference, from national to state to even just a 1 day thing [like our every other year ARRT full day programs], I return inspired. Heck, I get inspired running other people’s in-service days and I am the trainer.

This is because conferences, large meetings, in service days, these are all times when you get to be surrounded by like minded people, outside of your normal work routine, to talk about the very best of the work we do and how to improve it. It’s inspiring. But it is also a great way to recharge and rethink.

While I had a great time at ALA Annual, you can get much of the same effect [on a smaller scale of course] without leaving home for a week. So today, I am going to do a wrap up of the more “fun” things I did at conference, but as you will see, all of them turned into an experience that enhanced my work life in some way. It’s not like I tried to turn every thing I did into work, but you just can’t help it. And I think that the best work gets done when you are looking at things from a different perspective anyway.

I will recount a few things I did and there are also pictures to go with these things at the end of the post.

Publisher Dinners: I went to two of these. Saturday night, Sourcebooks hosted a small group to have dinner with Susanna Kearsley author of the wonderful, forthcoming Bellewether. [Click here to see my comments about this book which will be a HUGE hit at libraries.] I was seated next to a librarian from NY who I had never met before. We had wonderful conversation about RA service and specific books. He was someone I certainly would not have met without this dinner. I passed his info on to a RUSA CODES committee member [with his permission] so we could get him move involved. So yes, I had a lovely free dinner and met an author of a wonderful book, but this connection with Ralph will pay the largest dividends.

Monday night I had dinner with Virginia from Library Lovefest [Harper Collins] with Lou Berney author of the forthcoming November Road. At this event I sat at a table with colleagues I mostly knew, but some I hadn’t seen in a years. And Lou was very kind and interesting. The book will be a huge hit. It is a thriller with a lot of frame and fascinating characters. Click here for details on the book. We also learned that the story is based off of his own mother and his two older sisters.

Both dinners provided the best chance I had to network and really talk to colleagues. We were settled in and not rushing between meetings. We could have substantial conversations, pick each others’ brains, and really discuss things. These were events that will effect me and even our entire community of RA library workers in the future.

NoveList: On Saturday night I attended the Carnegie Awards reception which is always a good time, but this year I sat at the Novelist table. Duncan Smith who is the founder of NoveList and a good friend is transitioning into a part-time consultant role with EBSCO, so this was his last time being the face of the company he created. You can see a picture of him giving his remarks at the start of the ceremony. I spent most of the evening talking with Duncan and other NoveList staff who I work for and with about the future of the organization. I currently have two projects in the works for them. I will post particulars here on the blog when appropriate. However, I can tell you with 100% certainty, the company is in excellent hands. NoveList will continue to be a wonderful resource in the years moving forward.

I even arranged a post event meeting between Danielle Borasky, the new head, with Steve Thomas so they could chat about doing an interview for Circulating Ideas.

Networking with friends old and new: Speaking of Steve, I did have a report on his panel here yesterday. But Steve, myself, and two other librarians arranged to hang out in the French Quarter Sunday evening for some gumbo. One of the women, I had never met before and she was very interesting [a former LJ Mover and Shaker]. All four of us had great conversation about libraries, books, and the like. Then I convinced them all that we HAD to go on a vampire themed historical walking tour of the French Quarter. Our tour guide was fantastic. She talked at length about vampire legends in NOLA but also studied vampire mythology throughout the world in college. She shared so much knowledge about vampire legends and their portrayal in popular culture. Look, even I learned a bunch so you know it was good. You can see us with our faces covered below. My dinner turned into horror research, a nice bonus of being in NOLA.

Exploring a Different Place:  We can all gain benefit from being somewhere different. I know when I am in a new or different place, I pay attention to everything a lot more closely. It is easy to coast when you are in your regular routine. Getting out of your regular workplace to learn, even if only for a half a day, is a good break for your brain. If you are like me, you will be more receptive to new ideas. At the very least, you will be energized by the change. I took time on the final afternoon to really walk around and be a little bit of a tourist. I have been to NOLA before but it has been many years. I have a few pictures to show that below.

Going to a conference may seen like a vacation to some, but you work hard every minute of every day. I was exhausted when I got home on Tuesday afternoon and I didn’t know why, until I realized I had worked 9 days straight without a break. I did relax a little on Wednesday morning, but honestly, I will probably go 12 days without a break. So, that little bit of time I took Monday afternoon to explore and take in the city with a friend was important for me to reflect on what I learned, what I will do with that information when I return, and how I will move forward in the coming months.

So that is my report on the less obvious things I took away from ALA Annual this year. I also joined the RUSA CODES Research and Trends Committee [effective 7/1/18] and had a meeting about another new venture that can’t be discussed yet. These things are also important because they needed me to be there in person for them to happen.

There are many reasons to go to any conference. Yes, ALA Annual is a big one and not everyone can afford to go either because of the money or even the time away from your library, but this post is to remind you that everyone benefits by finding some convention, conference, meeting, etc to attend.

I am very luck that I started going to conferences as a student working in a law library. I joined the Chicago Association of Law Librarians and went to one of the early Computers in Libraries Conferences for 1 day when it was in Chicago. My law library sent me because I had the best mentor, Nancy, who knew I wanted to be a public librarian and wanted to teach me all she could about the profession. I will never forget Nancy, and am forever thankful for her instilling an importance in going to conferences in me, but I know not all of you have people like that in your lives, so I hope to be your mentor from far away.

That’s why I write the blog, and specifically this week of posts. I am reaching out to all of you to be a mentor, to help you to improve. This Call to Action is part of that. I urge you all to find a conference you CAN attend. If you are having trouble finding something regionally or one that works with your time and budget constraints, contact me and I can put you in touch with someone in your area.

Enjoy the pictures and have a nice weekend. I am back on Monday with some big news!

But in the meantime, look for a conference to sign up for.

For past Call to Action Posts click here.

Author Lou Berney promoting November Road
at a dinner sponsored by Harper Collins’ Library Lovefest
Duncan Smith of NoveList at Carnegie Awards
Me [in striped dress] and some conference friends
right before we did the Haunted History tour of French Quarter
Lunch with Robin, Magan, and Megan

Couldn’t visit without a stop
Took a moment to just take it all in

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