ALA 2010 continued my tradition of excellent first-timer conference experiences. I was so excited that the conference was in Washington, DC — a. because I had never been, and b. I had a friend from undergrad to stay with (for free) who I hadn’t seen in 3 years. ALA is a HUGE conference, however, and trying to choose what to do with my limited time in DC was daunting. Ultimately, I decided that no matter what I chose would be the right thing – there really isn’t a “wrong” thing to choose at ALA or in DC.
I’m not going to give my entire ALA schedule like I did at SLA – for 6 days, that would be way too much. Instead, I’m going to hit the highlights.
DC highlights: I attended the Library of Congress open house for ALA attendees, and saw the Rare Books Reading Room, the Children’s Literature Center, the European Reading Room, and the Hispanic Reading Room (and got free stuff!). I visited the Natural History Museum, American History Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. I also toured NPR! It was all amazing. I tried to keep up with my location on Foursquare, so checking out my profile will create a better picture for you! I also got to see John Green (for the second time!) and David Levithan at the Politics and Prose bookstore, and get my copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson signed.
Friday night, I attended the ANSS (Anthropology and Sociology Section of ACRL) Social because my mentor, Miriam, invited me to come along. We were matched together using NMRT’s Conference Mentoring Program. I will talk a little more about this in my next post. I had planned to go to the NMRT Mentoring Social, but since my mentor would be at the other social, it just made sense to attend. I ended up meeting many academic reference librarians from all over, and everyone was very welcoming and helpful. I know I can contact some of these librarians at any time if I have a question. Also, dinner was delicious!
The next night, I ended up at R.F.D. (sort of by accident) at the Facebook/Twitter After-Hours Social. I met a LOT of fellow library school students (especially from U of Pittsburgh!), and many new librarians who reassured me that jobs were out there, and that I would (eventually) succeed. It was a lot of fun, but I was exhausted the next morning!
For Sunday lunch, I attended Bites with LIRT, the Library Instruction Round Table, at the Old Dominion Brew House. This was a great experience – LIRT has some very nice and generous members, and they are really excited about the idea of students and new librarians getting involved. Library instruction can occur in any kind of library, and this is a very welcoming, inclusive round table–one that I will consider getting involved in in the future, depending on my job, of course.
PR Forum with Stephen Abram – This was by far my favorite session, but I expected it to be, because I’m a big fan of Stephen Abram. If you’ve never read his blog, Stephen’s Lighthouse, or any of his articles in Information Outlook (and other various places), you should. I could write a whole blog on his session alone (maybe I will at some point), but essentially, librarians have to sell themselves. We have the “critical competitive advantage in a Google world.” We have to make the library an event, a place to be, and promote it as such (as well as promote ourselves – no anonymity). He gave lots of tips and PR tools – go check them out!
RSS (Reference Services Section) Open House – My reference librarian supervisor told me about this session, so I thought it would be a good place to meet reference librarians, as well as get a glimpse into committee work. I was right! I met some really interesting librarians, and sitting in on the Catalog Use committee meeting provided insight into what I’ll be getting into one day soon! Again, I know that after I get a librarian job, I will be getting involved somehow.
Screencasting Tips and Tricks – While I have used screencasting software before, this one discussed some interesting pedagogical tips, and alerted me to Jing, a tool that inspired lots of ideas for distance education and instruction sessions.
Library Instruction Live! Reaching Distance Students in Real Time – Like the screencasting session, this one introduced me to an important piece of software, Adobe Connect, that again, can be used for instruction with distance learning students. Distance learning is becoming pretty commonplace, so it seems important to get a handle on what we can do to teach as well virtually as we do in person.
Science Fiction and Fantasy: Informing the Present by Imagining the Future – I’ll be honest. I’m not the biggest sci fi/fantasy geek out there. If Cory Doctorow hadn’t been on this panel, I wouldn’t have gone. I’ve read his book Content, about the evils of DRM, and I’m a pretty big fan. However, I’m really glad I went anyway. Not only did the first 250 people get a bag of free books (the only books I took home with me! And I’m reading all of them!), but each panel member was very interesting. They all talked about how the power of imagination has actually shaped the future, especially the creation of technology, and that’s a really powerful idea that resonated with me. Also, one of the most retweeted quotations from ALA was from feminist sci fi author Cherie Priest: “Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown.”
As far as famous authors/personalities go, I saw Salman Rushdie, Cory Doctorow (as part of a panel), Toni Morrison, and Amy Sedaris. ALA had several amazing author guest speakers, and I could’ve gone to them all. It’s very tough to choose between that session that looks really useful and hearing from one of your favorite authors! The ability to offer these sessions is definitely one of ALA’s strengths.
I took advantage of the ALA Placement Center’s free resume reviewing service, and got some good feedback from a longtime librarian who has worked in academic and public libraries. She was very encouraging, yet still gave me some practical tips. She also told me that if she were hiring, she would be taking my CV into consideration. That was very nice to hear! I now wish I had gone to some of the other ALA Placement offerings/sessions (some of them conflicted with other sessions, as always!).
*crickets* I spent some time in The Stacks, but not nearly as much as I did at SLA. I guess some of the novelty wore off, and since I do not yet represent a library, I have no idea which products will be useful for me to know about. It was also so huge and overwhelming that I almost wanted to avoid it altogether – strange, I know. While there were free books galore, I decided it would be a major pain to check a bag or ship books home when I could just check them out from the public library. I know LOTS of you out there do not feel that way, but I also have an aversion to accumulating stuff I may have to eventually move. I figure one day, when I settle down somewhere, I will finally start a decent book collection.
That was a lot, I know, and I haven’t even mentioned everything! I’ll discuss my overall conference impressions/tips in my next post (coming soon). What were your favorite sessions? Do you plan to go next year?