The 9th circuit librarians conference – and why we should have smaller conferences

by Emily Donnellan


I met my co-workers for the first time this month.

It seems kind of strange saying that. I’ve been in my position since September. I’ve chatted with many of my co-workers via e-mail, messenger, or the phone. Sometimes all three if I’m having a difficult time answering a question.

I usually don’t think being a solo librarian is weird, until I mention that a conference is the first time I’m getting the opportunity to meet many of these wonderful people face-to-face. I think this is one of the reasons conferences are so vitally important to solo librarians. Occasionally it can feel like you are an island unto yourself. It’s nice to get off the island and visit with people that understand the unique situation you are in and want to help strengthen both your branch and theirs.

The 9th Circuit Librarians Conference was held in Fresno, California earlier this month. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I went in knowing I would learn something new, meet people, and hopefully get some ideas how on to improve the Boise branch library. I learned all these things plus a ton more!

The great part about this conference was that each program was relevant to me. I’ve been to AALL, Westpac, and ALA conferences but at each of them I felt like I must sift through programs to find the threads relevant to me. At this conference I didn’t have to do that!

Each of the programs was directed and targeted at our limited audience. For example we chatted about: superseded collections and how we’d like to tackle that given limited space and the fact that court libraries- by their nature -are working libraries rather than repositories; civics outreach and how to get involved with the community outside of the courthouse; district court permalinking in opinions and what we as librarians in our individual districts can do to facilitate that process; and of course my favorite topic outreach methods for court engagement.

I loved that I was able to attend every program over the two-day conference. I got more out of it by not having to choose one program over another and by having targeted programs. I was able to engage with the material far more than I usually am at other conferences.

I think this is something law librarianship needs more of: small, targeted conferences on topics of interest and relevance.

Big conferences are great but so much is lost in the shuffle of vendors and shiny new tools that it feels overwhelming. This small conference allowed me to re-center and I left with new ideas and renewed excitement for creating community at my courthouse.

Let me know in the comments if you know of more conferences like this or if your local librarian group, or university does something similar. I’d love to create a resource relating to small conferences.

A cool side perk of this conference was that our Circuit Court Archivist allowed us to visit his acreage outside of Fresno. It was spectacular, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share a couple more photos.

This entry was posted in Continuing Education, Issues in Librarianship (generally), Training and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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