I was very lucky to have been selected as the Ken Davenport Scholarship recipient for the ARSL 2011 Conference held in Frisco, Texas. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to be part of something I had never experienced. My experience was eventful, fun, and slightly overwhelming. Not overwhelming in a bad way, but overwhelming in the sense that I walked away with about a million new ideas and stories that I wanted to share.
In addition to working in a smaller library, I am also an Information Technology Rural Librarians Master’s Scholarship (also known as ITRL) Program Recipient at the University of Tennessee. The scholarship is made possible by the Rural Library Professionals as Change Agents in the 21st Century Grant provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. I mention that, because there were really two reasons I felt that this conference was important for me to attend. It aligned perfectly with my current education focus and could help me in my current library position as the Information Specialist at the Lumpkin County Library in Dahlonega, Georgia.
The group sessions were everything from inspirational to entertaining. Linda Braun spoke to us about moving forward and being willing to leave things behind as libraries move toward being a community center and less of a book repository. Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, otherwise known as the two guys behind the comic strip ‘Unshelved,’ reminded us of the humor that can be found in the daily life of working in a library.
My favorite part of the conference was the variety of breakout sessions offered. This gave each individual the ability to explore different topics that were appealing to them or their library situation. These topics covered everything from grant writing tips, adult programming with no money, library signage, and getting teens in the library. And trust me, that is in no way an extensive list of topics. The breakout sessions were well run and presenters were excited to share whatever lessons they could pass along.
But even if there had been no group sessions and no breakout sessions I still would have walked away with more library knowledge than I showed up with. Having the opportunity to speak and interact with librarians who are in similar library situations as your own is an experience in itself. Bring up one topic, such as computer classes at the library and you immediately get 10 responses from 10 different people. Everyone comes willing to share about how things happen at their library. You learn very quickly that there are multiple ways to do one thing at a library and believe me there are ideas out there that have never crossed your mind.
I hope everyone takes full opportunity of the 2012 Conference – which I believe will be in Raleigh, North Carolina. Please pass the word around about ARSL. It is an amazing organization that works hard for the members and offers so much in the way of learning and growth. If you have never attended an ARSL conference before, please take the opportunity to apply for a scholarship for the 2012 Conference. Come to share or come to learn – you will end up walking away from your experience having done both.
Thank you again to ARSL for the scholarship opportunity and for presenting an awesome conference. Hope to see you next year!
Lumpkin County Library, Dahlonega, GA