Here we are on Thing 15, because that is the one that comes after Thing 13. Right? Right.*
Thing 15 is about attending, presenting at, and organizing conferences, which is something I know a little bit about.
I've attended the NELA Conference many times over the years. I've also attended MLA once (just for a day), and the PLA Conference once when it was held here in Boston. I'm looking forward to attending the NELA conference in just a few weeks in Burlington, VT. Back in Thing 7 I talked a little about why I enjoy conferences, so I won't repeat myself here.
Presenting at conferences
I'm fully convinced I'll do this some day when I figure out a topic I know enough about to present a program on it.
Last year I had a tiny taste of presenting when I had to introduce the presenters for a couple of programs. I feel fairly comfortable (meaning "not terrified") about public speaking and I put a lot of effort into being natural and not just reading someone's resume or the bio from their web site. Does anyone even listen to those kinds of introductions? I always zone out.
The reason I introduced presenters last year is because I was on the conference planning committee! I mentioned it in my post about the conference here. At the time I was planning to be on the committee again this year, but for various life-related reasons I didn't.
Being on the committee was a great experience in some ways, most notably in being able to influence the programs offered at the conference. I do enjoy having power and influence and it happens so rarely. It's also a great opportunity to work with other librarians from around New England.
There are a couple of down sides to being on the planning committee. One is that, obviously, you have work to do. This committee is pretty large so each person isn't responsible for very much but as a first-time participant I found it confusing. I got the impression that most of the people on the committee are on it every year so certain things aren't spelled out. For instance, we were told to bring program ideas to the first meeting but I didn't realize that if you suggest something it means you are the one planning it and have to come up with a presenter. I wasn't prepared for that. I'm also not a fan of paperwork and chasing people down to fill out forms, which is a large part of the committee work.
In addition to the extra work, the other down side to being on a committee is that you are locked into attending certain programs. You can't plan a program and then not attend. Also, every program needs a helper, so between planning and helping, there were something like 5 specific programs I was required to attend. This isn't really how I roll at conferences. Normally I go through the conference program ahead of time and circle each program I want to attend. I do this again when I arrive and get the final copy of the program. Then when the time arrives I go to whatever I feel like attending at the moment, which about 50% of the time are the programs I circled. It works for me.
Although I haven't decided whether or not to join the conference committee again, I do want to continue to be professionally involved and possibly help plan or organize something. Maybe it's time to organize another librarian cocktail party...
*Ok, Thing 14 was on citation tools. I haven't been in school for a while, nor do I work in academia, so I couldn't get myself interested enough to download and install the three tools listed. But I'm sure they're great.
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