After a nice long pause on the blog, I’m back online. Part of the DHC’s fellowship involves professional advancement, and as part of that, I had the massively good fortune to go to the American Library Association’s Annual conference in Anaheim last weekend. I actually got to co-lead a discussion group, but more on that later.
The title of this entry refers to 20,000 librarians, which at first glance, seems ridiculous. 20,000 librarians? A gross exaggeration, surely. You’re completely right, there weren’t 20,000 librarians at ALA 2012.
There were 20,134.
Despite all my pre-reading, my programming list-making, and my copious amounts of business cards, I was completely unprepared for two things:
Firstly, the sheer blessed scale of the conference. Having attended the Illinois Library Association’s conference a couple years back, I thought I knew what to expect. A big conference center, to be sure, and two or three large hotels to manage overflow. Oh man, did I underestimate that. Easily a dozen hotels, a four-story conference center, and a constantly ebbing-and-flowing crowd of librarians. And, oh the librarians.
Secondly, I was unprepared for how welcoming, how friendly, how eager to help and willing to talk the conference attendees would be. It seems silly in retrospect, given that our entire profession is predicated on customer service, but I was overwhelmed. A librarian from Colorado Spring, whom I had never met, got my number from my aunt, called me, set up a time to talk about my professional aspirations, and squired me through the ins-and-outs of conference etiquette. I met another recent grad at the career centre who included me in a mentoring meeting so I could get resume advice. Presenters at the poster displays fell all over themselves to give me contact information so I could follow up with additional questions. It was like a family reunion, only with a family I’d never met before.
Along with the fellow from UCLA (you’re all following her LA blog, right?), I had a chance to present at the Dance Librarian Discussion Group under the Arts Council. Our presentation, “Thinking Beyond the Barre” (which how amazing is that title, by the way?), focused on how to justify processing dance-based collections within an institution and how to frame outreach programs. Increased visibility is increased access, after all. My main fear was speaking to an empty room, but people came! We had just enough to encourage lively debate, but not too many to discourage everyone speaking their piece. I came away with a deep and abiding need to write an article about my personal passion: participant dance, a subject woefully underrepresented in dance archives.
Final reflections? I’m chomping at the bit to get involved with larger ALA interworkings. Perhaps I’ll take on that opportunity for sitting on a committee about videogames in public libraries! We’ll see!