Library conferences – they leave librarians refreshed, renewed, energized, inspired, and tired (very tired). I attended SEAALL’s conference in Knoxville last week, and I had one of my best conferences ever! The group of librarians and the conference were great. Reflecting now, I can offer some new tips on conference attendance.
1. Attend some programs that discuss things you think you are doing already. There are two benefits: 1. you will get confirmation that you are doing some good work.; and 2. you will always find something new.
I went to “What’s Your Problem: Designing Engaging Assignments for Your Course.” My assignments are usually more than a hunt and find, so I did not feel inadequate, but the presentation gave me some great ideas and a new perspective on assignments for legal research.
2. Attend programs that address new ideas for your area. The benefit here: brand new ideas.
I attended “Beyond the Bound Research Text” with presenters from the University of South Carolina and the University of Kentucky. Both schools are using LibGuides to build their own legal research texts for their students. What a great idea! And USC admitted that they had gotten the idea for theirs from Kentucky at the conference the year before.
3. Go to at least one program that you think doesn’t apply to you at all. There is always a benefit: a new perspective and better overall knowledge of how libraries work.
A presentation titled “But I Just Work in the Back: The Rocky Road to a Combined Circulation and Technical Services Department” was not about research and instruction, which is my focus. But I went, and it was great. The presentation, by librarians from Stetson University Law Library, showed how work flow can be mapped to make departments more interdependent and more effective. Although it was about technical services, it gave me some ideas about reference – maybe everyone should rotate through certain duties, for example. Also, it gave me ideas to take back to other people in my library.
4. Skip a program, and talk to someone interesting. Benefit: Twofold, again. One, closer ties to other libraries and librarians. Two, great spontaneous brainstorming of ideas for classes, programs and research problems.
I skipped the second program on Friday morning to talk to librarians from Wake Forest and Florida. They had some great ideas about problems for teaching, including cutting edge laws on technology. Plus, I got to hang out with amazing librarians (one of which was escorting our own Puron Ripssis around the conference – send Puron a friend request on Facebook for the best pictures).
5. Volunteer. This is a benefit to the organization and to you – you get to contribute to the organization and the organization gets your expertise.
I volunteered to make a t-shirt quilt to help with the Service Project. I got to talk to almost everyone at the conference as they looked at the quilt. And the proceeds went to a local charity that provides books to children. A win-win.
What are your tips for conferences as we move into conference season?