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Preparing for my First ALA (2013)

June 28, 2013

I’ve been to professional conferences before – Library Technology Conference 2010 at Macalester University, and more Handheld Librarians than I can remember – and I’ve been to conventions, both large and small.

But something about ALA has me more than a little nervous.

It’s big, yes, but it’s a different kind of big than what I’m used to. At the biggest conventions I’ve attended, I’ve always had a group of people I could come back to.  I had a home base.  I won’t really have that at ALA.  The classes, talks, and poster sessions don’t worry me – those are pretty standard fare. The difference at ALA is that it’s a professional conference.  That means networking.

Networking isn’t something that comes easily to me in a face-to-face setting.  Networking online is totally different. I can have a circle of Library-Folk on Google+, for example, and share neat things with them and see the neat things they share, and we can talk about it in threaded comments.  This is comfortable.  This is something I’m used to.

For all my years in public services, both in circulation and at the reference desk, initiating a conversation with someone I don’t know is still a little awkward.  At the desk, there’s always the transaction to serve as a vehicle for conversation.  I don’t know if there is an ALA conference equivalent.

Part of me is a little overwhelmed that this is “me” now. I take my last class (my portfolio) in the fall.  I graduate in December. I’ll have my official “librarian” stamp, signed, sealed, and accredited before Christmas*.  This is a Big Step In Adulthood for me, which I know sounds silly, but we don’t all sprout fully seasoned and experienced Librarians and Library Professionals from the frontal cortex of Ranagathan**.

We all start somewhere.  ALA 2013 will be my first ALA conference, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.  I am using the newbie tools to keep a schedule and generally plan my two days.

As the good Doctor says, allon-sy!

*Assuming that all goes well, knock on wood, yadda yadda. Cross your fingers!

Or the Library Leader of your choice. Just not Dewey. People shouldn’t spring from his head. It’d swell his ego beyond even Reasonable For Dewey proportions.

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