What I Learned at My First Library Conference

May 19, 2016 Casandra Laskowski

conference mic.jpgWhen I was told about ER&L by a colleague, I knew it was something I needed to attend. I am still a graduate student and my part time job in the law library does not give me control of digital resources, but every class in library school referenced the changes technology was ushering into the field. The law school I work at has an entire lunchtime program dedicated to technology in the legal field. Two library directors speaking to my class expressed that their next hire would likely be an electronic services librarian. I believed ER&L to be my best chance to really see what people were actually using and decide what training I should undertake. Fortunately the Wiley scholarship for the conference afforded me this opportunity.

Luckily, a gracious colleague helped me pick sessions to attend, as conference schedule was littered with names of programs I’d never worked with and tools I never realized existed. It was my first conference. I was excited and a bit terrified. I shyly walked into the welcome reception. While I am terrible at random ‘”Hello’s,” I quieted my introversion and began a conversation with two other solo wanderers at the reception. One had been a librarian for years and the other was newly minted. But both were new to the conference, and each one had different expectations of what they wanted from it.

The sessions were a blend of real world experiments, efforts, and projects and explorations of new and upcoming tools and software. Even the individuals that asked questions at the end of sessions all seemed to be working on distinctive projects, looking to apply what they learned in a variety of situations. It made the information in the sessions feel so much more malleable and potentially useful.

NISO presented on privacy guidelines created as a joint venture between libraries and publishers. At D4D, the information architecture workshop fascinated me with how ubiquitous the issues of information architecture were, and how useful this session would be in a range of practical situations. I attended a session on using E-books as textbooks to reduce costs for students, and the EBSCO lunchtime talk about their collaboration with librarians and developers to create a modular, open source ILS. I listened to librarians tell of their creative solutions to a range of problems. I learned about EZProxy and Altmetrics.

I sat, took notes, and witnessed how different every librarian’s job is, but also how similar. I observed the strength and ingenuity to adapt to changing pressures and demands that underlie each talk. I saw all the things that captivated me about being a librarian embodied in the speakers. The experience reaffirmed my choice to be a librarian and made me fall in love a second time with librarianship.

Image credit: hxdzbzxy/Shutterstock

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