As excited as I was to learn that I had been awarded the Dr. Bernard Vavrek scholarship, nothing could compare to the excitement and energy that arriving at the conference actually held. There is a certain energy that flows when you are able to network with your peers. And with over 300 other Librarians who work in libraries just like yours in the house, you are certain to get caught up in the energy.
I was lucky enough to arrive in Raleigh in time to attend a preconference, where I heard Don Reynolds “What Do I Do Next.” There were loads of ideas on how to market our libraries as well as resources to utilize to make our days easier. Afterwards I had a wonderful experience at the mixer held at the old state capitol building. Here I was able to meet with a youth services worker from North Carolina and a Librarian from Alaska! How cool is it that while we are from all over the United States, we all share the same goals of promoting our libraries as places for all to come?
Thursday brought the official start of the conference and after much highlighting and rearranging my session schedules, I was able to attend 3 great sessions where I saw some awesome material displays, learned about signature events (really who doesn’t want to hear about a program called Chocolate in the Stacks???) I also learned a ton at a session on Google Docs. Matter of fact, by the next week I had informed our staff that our transition to Google was coming and our communication logbook would soon be in the trash! My shopping list is already set up and I know it will make shopping very easy when I can access our needs list from my cell phone! The evening wrapped up by attending dinner with another Indiana Library Director and some new friends from California and New York at The Pit. The Dine-Around was a wonderful way to wind down after a day of learning. Many of us attending work in districts where we can’t afford to send more than one person. Going to dinner alone is never fun. The Dine-Around allows for a fun evening where we can get to know other people from across the country while enjoying a great meal.
If I thought Thursday was a good day, I was totally blown away on Friday. I started my day with a session on adult programs. There were tons of program ideas presented to attract adults to the library including a great tip to advertise special events on water bills and to never forget the power of advertising on bathroom stall doors! Next up, Arkansas Librarians shared fabulous customer service tips and a staff program that I will soon be implementing at our library. The afternoon brought a program on ways to build computer training programs for seniors. The evening wrapped up with several librarians going to dinner at another Dine-Around and a most fun evening of relaxing with more librarians over a glass a wine and shared stories.
Just when I thought I could absorb no more, Saturday rolled around and I heard a presentation on using sales tactics to sell the library. My final session was on after school programs. By the end of the program, I truly just wanted to go hang out in the presenter’s library and play. This program was fast and jam packed full of ideas to take home.
These experiences, of course, don’t even touch on the products I learned about while visiting with vendors. After visiting with my ILS vendor I learned about several new products that will be coming soon, including a FREE upgrade with PC management (YEAH!!!) and it looks like we may be getting a mobile app soon. Also, who could predict how cute the Collaborative Summer Reading Program t-shirts are for next year. Trust me until you see it in person, the photo doesn’t do it justice!
As a Library Director and a MLS student this conference recharged my batteries. No matter how hard the universities try they cannot recreate the energy and excitement that 300+ Librarians bring to a room. Not to mention the lessons learned by sharing stories of real world experience. It also reminded me how blessed we are to work in a field that encourages sharing resources and knowledge. And this conference illustrated just how much we can learn from one another. I cannot recommend this conference (or organization) enough to anyone who works in rural or small town America. And I for one can’t wait for Iowa in 2013!