Adventures in Conferenceland

I recently returned from attending my first conference as a capital “L” Librarian, but it was momentous for another reason: I was actually a speaker. If you’re wondering how exactly a “first-year nothing” ends up speaking at a national conference, well, press on, dear reader.

I owe a great deal of thanks to my colleague Meredith Farkas, who essentially roped me into it. She was asked to fill in for a last minute cancellation less than two months before the conference, and said she’d do it if she could split the time with someone else. She then informed me that I was that someone else. After some mild protestations (well, OK, tears and shouting) I agreed to do it. We set about putting together a presentation on user generated content and split up our allotted time. We brainstormed points and examples, and borrowed some slides from another talk she’d given recently on a related topic. After that, I just practiced my part and hoped it would all be over soon.

Of course, in the end the talk went very well – it was probably a review for some people, but seemed to be enlightening for others. I spoke a little too fast (like always) but had energy and humor that were hopefully appreciated. Above all I learned not to be afraid of all of you out there. We really are all in this together, and we move the profession forward by sharing, networking, and working together. I’m not sure if I would have applied to speak on my own, but I believe I ended up giving a positive contribution (however minor) to the conference, despite my previous underestimation of my abilities. I suppose this is all to say that all of you out there who can’t see themselves putting together a presentation or speaking at a conference should reconsider what you have to offer. I don’t know that I would have done it without a push from Meredith, so I hope this meager blog entry will inspire someone else out there to give it a try.

Aside from that, the conference was great. I quite enjoyed reading Joe Janes’ stuff while in library school, so it was great to meet him very briefly before his keynote (thanks, Hilary!). Casey Bisson is just down the road for me in NH, but I first heard him discuss his Scriblio project in California last week. I did meet a lot of new people, both friends of friends as well as others that came to my talk, and while I’m not exactly sure how all that networking will pay off, I did finally feel like a real member of the profession. I’m looking forward to attending and participating further in what we do for academic librarianship outside of our offices, and am now thinking about putting together a presentation on my own – but what do I talk about? Do I examine something my library’s doing and see if it would help others, or do I try to develop something new and ambitious? I understand that sometimes there can be quite a bit of tension between one’s daily duties and a perceived responsibility to the profession at large – anyone have any suggestions to a newbie on how to best navigate this?

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