Professional Adventures, aka Conference Recapping

Although I barely ever write here anymore, this blog is nothing if not a place for conference-recap posts. And since I’ve been to quite a few conferences already this year, looks like I’ve got a lot of recapping to do! I don’t know why I feel so compelled to do this – I guess it just gives me something easy to write about while also recounting my professional adventures.

ALA Midwinter. In February, I attended ALA Midwinter in Denver – and I can hardly believe it’s been just a few months since then, because it feels like forever ago. I had a really great time at Midwinter this year. My favorite thing about these big ALA conferences is that there’s so much opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. I did a lot of that in Denver, and it’s just as important (or even moreso) as any meeting or program you might go to.

I also re-learned the value of trying new things, which in this case meant popping into meetings for committees I’m not on. I went to the ACRL Diversity Committee meeting and ended up being part of conversations that directly connect to the work of a committee I am on. I also went to the ACRL Student Learning and Information Literacy Committee meeting, where I was immediately welcomed and put to work, as they were using the meeting time to evaluate their website in small groups. If you’re ever at an ALA conference and not sure what to attend, I highly recommend checking out a committee meeting that sounds interesting. A lot are open to anyone, and in my experience they’re always happy to have guests.

My ALA Midwinter was jam-packed and a ton of fun – here’s a Wakelet story with all of my tweets/etc. (trying out Wakelet now that Storify is gone).

Distance Library Services Conference. In April, I went to the DLS Conference in San Antonio. I actually wasn’t originally planning to go to this, but decided to since it’s just a three-hour drive to San Antonio and I’d never been to this conference before. It’s not too overwhelming with just a few hundred attendees, and the program had a lot of variety, covering information literacy, outreach, user experience, assessment, and more.

At the time of this conference, I was less than two weeks into my new role as OER Coordinator. Thankfully there were a handful of OER-related sessions, so I went to as many as I could and took copious notes. It was a really well-timed opportunity to sit back and listen to the conversations around OER and to make a few connections with more experienced OER folks.

LOEX Conference. I attended LOEX in early May, which was very convenient as it happened to be here in Houston. It was my second time going to LOEX, with the first being in Grand Rapids, MI in 2014. Leading up to the conference, I was pretty stressed out and a little nervous about my presentation with a colleague. Thankfully, it all went perfectly fine and seemed to be well-received by those who attended.

To be honest, LOEX was a kind of surreal experience. Partly because having a conference in your own city is totally different than when you travel to one. But also because I was at an instruction conference while newly not in an instruction-focused position for the first time in my career. Sessions that I would normally be super into were instead just interesting – I was still into them, but not in the way where I would as deeply consider how the topic applies to me and my institution. I don’t mean to sound like I didn’t get anything out of the conference, because there was still plenty that was relevant and engaging for me. It’s just that I started to really experience the mental shift from my old job to my new one, and see myself as no longer part of “instruction world.” And it was weird.

ARL Symposium for Strategic Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Lastly (for now) is the ARL Symposium, which was in Minneapolis less than a week after LOEX. I presented here as well, on a panel about looking outside of libraries for successful DEI strategies. This was actually the first time I was invited to present somewhere – and let me tell you, when I got that invitation I was so surprised, and then flattered and excited, of course! I really enjoyed the experience of researching strategies outside of libraries (I ended up looking into Coca-Cola’s mentoring program from the early 2000’s) and learning from my co-panelists. Deray McKesson gave an inspiring and thought-provoking keynote speech. Definitely check out his podcast, Pod Save the People, if you’re not a listener already.

Here’s my Wakelet story from #SFSL18.

I’m keeping extra busy this year – I realized I’m travelling somewhere every month from now through October! In June I’m going to the Northeast Texas Consortium Distance Learning Conference and then ALA Annual (and presenting at both), so if nothing else, I’ll have plenty of material for more conference recap-style posts.

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