I've just returned from the NELA (New England Library Association) Conference in Manchester, NH. This was my first conference in a few years and I'm so glad I went! I did things the right way this time; first by splitting a room with two other librarians which equals cheapness, and also by not even trying to pretend I was going to attend sessions relevant to my job or that would help me in my career.
Perhaps it seems like that defeats the purpose of attending a conference, but it doesn't. The fact is that I work in reference, which is boring, and conference programs relating to reference are boring. Also, it's stuff that I could learn elsewhere. So I just passed by all those workshops on genealogy research and government documents and attended the sessions that looked interesting to me.
Here are the highlights:
- Storytelling workshop with Motoko and Eshu. I could have listened to them tell stories for hours!
- Dinner banquet with speaker Simon Winchester. He is a fantastic author and interesting speaker.
- "The Internet is Not Flat" with Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices. He is everything I could want in a presenter - dynamic speaker, multimedia presentation, interesting topic, and plenty of humor
- The Life and Times of Beatrix Potter. Why aren't there more sessions about authors? She had a fascinating life and wrote some of the best-loved books of all time!
- Hot Teen Titles: Sexuality and Teen Fiction. Librarians generally aren't great speakers, but Amy Pattee is funny and animated and did a great job!
- Drop-in Demo: Games and Gaming. I learned how to play Guitar Hero. I have no illusions that this will help me in my job, but it was fun! Apparently, I rock.
- Several of us had dinner with children's author Jarrett Krosoczka who is super nice and totally rocks his argyle sweaters. He has a graphic novel coming out soon, which I am rather excited about.
It was an exhausting three days, but I learned a lot and got to hang out with many fun and interesting librarians. I need to do this on a regular basis to remind myself why I got into this profession!
ALA was my first conference ever and I felt guilty for not attending more cataloging related session. I did however sign up for two YALSA meal events where we got to meet authors. It does make things interesting when you go around the table doing introductions where everyone is school or public and you are an academic cataloger. I think next year I'll pick a smaller conference and choose more fun sessions.
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