This past June, I had the opportunity to attend my first American Libraries Association Annual Conference. This Conference is the largest conference for librarians, with nearly 20,000 librarians in attendance from around the world. This is the prime opportunity to meet and network with colleagues, see the latest products available for libraries, check out what great things other libraries are doing, meet great authors and illustrators, and hear some wonderful and inspiring speakers.
Leading up to the conference, the schedule starts becoming available in bits and pieces so that before I knew it – I had “favorited” 4 things to attend all at the same time over and over again! Therefore, as the conference drew closer, I refined my personal “schedule” to something more manageable that kept in line with my conference goals. My goals including finding out more about participating in round tables, award juries, and other committees as well as professional development sessions and meeting a few vendors for our library. At the conference, I found that it was great to have my personal “schedule” as a guideline – but the locations of said events really matter as some were about a half mile away within the conference center, or located in a hotel somewhere else in Chicago. So that was a learning experience.
I am very thankful for the opportunity I had to meet with the Feminist Task Force, which I hope to become more involved with as well as the EBSCO Scholarship winners – a scholarship for which I had the pleasure of serving on the jury last year. I hope to serve on a jury again in the future. I spent a good deal of time in different sessions, during which librarians from all over the country created panels on various topics and shared what they were doing in their libraries. I also went to the “Ignite Sessions” in which different librarians spoke for 5 minutes each on what they were doing, but each speaker was in no way connected to the other. I loved these Ignite sessions, and hope to bring some of these ideas home to our library. As a side note, one thing I learned was to get to any of these sessions early unless I wanted to sit on the floor! The Exhibit Hall itself was huge. I had specific vendors that I needed to speak with for various reasons, but I always swept by the publishers to see which pre-published books they might be handing out or what authors were signing books.
Chicago itself is a wonderful city! I had never been before, and spent a few hours on either end of the trip doing some walking around and sightseeing. I didn’t get to see or do everything of course, but my three favorite things were to go to the top of the
Sears Willis Tower and step out onto the glass ledges, visit the Art Institute of Chicago, and take an architectural boat tour. I highly recommend all of these things!
Overall, the conference was more than I expected. I was overwhelmed and exhausted a good amount of the time, but I really felt plugged into the great library conversation taking place across the country (and world!). I came back not just with ideas of things to do here in Methuen, but with a sense of confidence about my own librarianship and professional philosophies. I’m still a pretty young librarian, professionally speaking, and I will always love to learn and experience new things. I hope that I will be able to continue to attend conferences like this throughout the rest of my professional life.