Monday, February 03, 2014

A brief review of the American Library Association Mid-winter 2014 Conference

I have been waiting on this post. Initially, I had intended to blog from the conference itself (which turned out to be pretty unrealistic for this humble blogger) and then to write immediately upon returning; somewhere there is a draft which is really more of a list--events, sessions, etc. And while this may be interesting to some, it obfuscates the most important lesson I took home (and no, it had nothing to do with better shoes for polar vortices--though I did overpack--in cold weather just bring warm shoes and leave it at that).

from the Latvian Society of Pennsylvania.
EveryLibrary / Mango Afterhours Film Fest
 For transparency's sake, I am a member of LITA, YALSA, AASL, GamesRT, and the New Members Round Table--which means there are usually multiple simultaneous sessions which I find interesting; there were award ceremonies and free books (thanks YALSA!), great discussions around gender and technology, work which was accomplished, and plenty of social events. Which brings me to the idea I wish to promote. In previous years, I have attended conferences, listened to really smart people, and have brought some of that experience and learning back to my community (I work at a independent high school). But thus far, I have been really more of a consumer, or, perhaps better, a messenger: I receive ideas, contain them, and ferry them back to my library.

This year, I decided to dip my toes into getting involved. And it could not have been a better choice! I wish I had done so sooner! I learned so much about the structure of ALA by attending the New Members Round Table; was excited to help plan events for the annual in Las Vegas, and was stoked to help work on a beginning stage of a youth advocacy packet with YALSA. Not only that, but attending library-related social events meant that I could meet so many interesting people who were just as interested as I am in similar things--everything from a Tublarian meet-up to a YA librarian social at the Mutter Museum to dinner with friends at great restaurants.

ALA's next conference is in Las Vegas, and if you're an information professional, not only do I think you should go, but I think you should get involved! People want to hear you, want to talk with you, and want to share ideas with you--you just have to start a conversation. And if you're going to the summer conference, let's talk!