I do my best to stay relevant and on-top of my librarian duties by being active in the work of librarian and information professional organizations. In January 2014, I attended the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (a.k.a. ALAMW14). I was there from Saturday, January 26 to Monday, January 27. They say, as you become more seasoned with professional conference attendance, you’ll only attend the days when you absolutely need to be in attendance. I’m finding this to be true for me.
It was cold. And very slippery with ice and snow. Considering how much of a, uh, brave, fearless person I am when it comes to pain and injury, I was my active, bubbly, inquisitive self, undaunted by fear and discomfort (I’m being sarcastic here).
I am learning that the best part of attending these professional conferences isn’t the unpaid, often-invisible work. The best parts are the people. I’ve come to be surrounded by really, really, really awesome librarians. They’re awesome because I like them and (oh dear gawd) they like me back. They bring out a part of me that is hidden most of the time, the part that is truly brave and assertive. Such is the power of the social.
At the risk of embarrassing them publicly on the interwebz, I can’t overestimate how much this group of conference peeps mean to me. It bums me out that we only get to see each other once or twice a year. But I think about them a lot, smile at their accomplishments, and shed tears at their grief, as if these were my own. For reals. No foolin. Thanks to social media, we continue our long-distance relationships between our conference-based f2f meetings.
Then there are the new friends that I make through these professional organizations. I may not know them as well as these other friends I have made through ALA. Not yet. Not right now. I expect this to change considerably. Social media has made that possible, too.
As I write this post, I am at the Information Architecture Summit 2014, being held at San Diego, California’s Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina. I had volunteered to be a graduate student assistant for the conference, so I am able to attend at a lower cost. In exchange for some time, attention, and effort, I am able to indulge (just a little bit) my info-geek-y tendencies (delusions?). I’ll be here from March 26 to March 30, keeping tabs of the Podcasting track. I’ll know more about my assignment later today, at the conference volunteer orientation. Thanks, ASIS&T!
Unlike ALA, I don’t know anyone at IA Summit. I’m here because I was impressed by the speaker line-up (i.e., mostly Irene Au and Peter Morville). I wanted to hear them speak in person. And the conference is within driving distance from my house.
So, when the call came out for IA Summit 2014 volunteers, I said to myself, “Why not?” I didn’t think I’d get in. All I know is that I wanted to go. And I could go, if I was chosen. If I didn’t get chosen, it wasn’t Earth-shatteringly disappointing. I am already fully invested in ALA, my ALA friends, and the work we do together on behalf of the American Library Association and its members.
Now I’m here. Everything’s just icing. Drinks on Riot Games during the Opening Reception? Heck, yeah. Thank you!
As I will be attending ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada this summer, in late June, and seeing my beloved ALA friends again, IA Summit 2014 is great practice for the networking and schmoozing (i.e., drinking and eating) that I will undoubtedly be doing. Since I have a very strong homebody streak, I could really stand to increase my capacity (while maintaining my t2 diabetes lifestyle).