|Library Conference Attendance|
Library Conferences: Real Value for Library Staff and the Public We Serve
Why attend conferences? We all like to travel and see new places; but how useful are conferences for library staff?
The South Carolina State library believes that encouraging library staff to take part in gatherings of library professionals at the state and national level will result in better informed, more enthusiastic, more highly skilled library workers. Conferences can excite and motivate, inform and enlighten. Conferences help expand library worker’s understanding of and currency with library trends and practices. They provide an opportunity to attend sessions that will contribute to the employee’s skills and knowledge base. Conferences allow library staff to network and enlarge their contact with colleagues statewide and nationwide.
Conference-going is not a frill, but a necessary element in the continuing education of library staff. The State Library’s goal is to create channels through which library workers can communicate the excitement and the experience of going to a conference, and share what was learned with colleagues and co-workers, leading to overall improvement in services to library users.
Paying For Conference Attendance
Many conferences, and most travel, are costly. Libraries have not been able to budget for staff to attend conferences in recent years. To assist libraries to send staff to conferences, the State Library makes grants on a limited basis. Grants funded through the Library Services and Technology Act for public, academic, and school librarians to attend conferences are available year-round.
Certain rules and requirements apply – please read guidelines carefully. Click for guidelines and application information.
The State Library awarded 31 LSTA grants to conference-goers in FY2010, representing 17 county public libraries. In FY2011, grants have been made available to academic and school librarians as well.
Other Funding For Conference-Goers
South Carolina conferences are often held locally or just a few hours drive away, and the costs are more modest. If staff does not qualify for an LSTA grant, there may be other funds available. Friends of the Library groups may offer to pick up the cost for staff to attend local or even national conferences.
What Conferences Are Available For Library Staff?
There are conferences designed for just about every kind of library worker. For public library staff, the biggies on the national scene are “ALA” and “PLA” – that is, the American Library Association Conference, held annually, and the Public Library Association Conference which occurs every other year. PLA tends to be smaller and more focused on issues that interest public library workers. ALA is the big enchilada: Something for every kind of librarian!
Conferences are held for special library workers, for academic librarians, and for school library media personnel. If you work in any of these fields, there are conferences designed especially for you.
Don’t see a conference you are interested in, in our list? Please let us know so we can include it here.
Calendars Of Library Conferences And Events
Check these current listings of upcoming conferences.
Tips For Attending Conferences
Conference Attendance Reports
When the State Library makes an LSTA grant award to attend a conference, the attendee must choose how he or she would like to share the conference experience with other librarians in South Carolina. Here are the choices:
We offer the personal reports of conference attendees here to give you an idea of what it is like to attend some of these conferences, and what the attendees learned or experienced.
Latino Children’s Literature Conference, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 2012
by Cindy Frellick, Greenville County Library System - Youth Services
The Latino Children’s Literature conference is organized every second year by Dr. Jaime Naidoo. There were approximately 70 attendees, and that number was made up mostly by librarians and teachers. The majority of events were held at the Gorgas Library of the University of Alabama.
Authors present were Monica Brown, Rene Colato Laiñez, Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy, Meg Medina and Lila Quintero. Illustrators in attendance were Joe Cepeda and John Parra. They all presented key-notes that covered themes describing their personal experiences in the process of author/illustrator collaboration, the preservation of culture and language, social activism, and the plight of illegal immigrant children.
Breakout sessions were offered from a variety of doctorate candidates, librarians, and by the authors themselves. The themes were varied: minority presence in children’s literature, ELL parent involvement, alternative Latino texts for the classroom, digital resources for Latino families, similarities in Latin American and Appalachian folktales, benefits of story nights for minority families, and fairy tales reinvented to address social issues.
Graduate students presented poster sessions during both days. They briefly described themes such as family story backpacks, multicultural fairytales, Chicano children’s lit, YA literature for minorities, Juan Bobo stories, factors affecting the Pura Belpré awards, and the experiences of migrant worker’s children in literature.
On Thursday evening they hosted a family event at the Tuscaloosa Public Library. Several of the authors read from their latest books and gave free copies to the first 100 families in attendance. This was the only disappointing part of the conference as only a few families actually came.
At the end of the two days, we were treated to small group sessions with the authors and illustrators.
What I took away from this conference was a much deeper understanding of Latino and minority presence in literature, and of the social issues that affect it. Certainly, there is an element of inspiration after speaking one on one with people like Ada and Campoy, who are pioneers in this field. The bibliographies and story ideas will be quite useful for programs here at Greenville libraries, and I also hope to maintain contact with several of the authors and presenters. I will be collaborating with Dr. Naidoo on a bilingual story time publication for ALA during the next few months.
For all of the above, I am thankful for the opportunity to have attended such an outstanding event.
Association of Bookmobile & Outreach Services (ABOS) Conference, Richmond, Virginia, October, 2012
by Darlene Taylor, DCL Bookmobile Coordinator
I recently had the privilege of attending the Association of Bookmobile & Outreach Services (ABOS) Conference entitled Thinking Outside the Walls, held in Richmond Virginia.
Traveling up I-95 there are not any major cities until you reach Richmond. Downtown Richmond reminded me of one big ant hill in the middle of my large rural yard. There are of course multiple lanes of city traffic, multiple buses and bus stops, bicycles zipping between the cars and those one way streets. Over my lifetime I have lived and worked and been sent to other conferences in big cities but, when I go, I always feel I am similar to the Clampetts in Beverly Hills.
The conference was 2 and ½ days of workshops with the opportunity to spend time with people like myself who spend their days providing library services from Bookmobiles or other outreach vehicles throughout the United States. We talked of course about dwindling funds to purchase vehicles and aging Bookmobiles and how to still provide the best services we can. We exchanged creative ideas to try in our communities. Vendors talked to us about the best, most durable and most practical new features in Bookmobiles as we dreamed that one day our county would be able to afford to purchase one. We celebrated with our peers who were lucky enough to buy a new vehicle.
We met the author Donald Pollock who read to us from his book, The Devil All the Time. One of the story lines is a about a married couple who are serial killers. Amazon calls it an, “exceptionally gritty, twisted page-turner.” It was a real treat to have someone read to us!
I visited the Library of Virginia and strolled through their current exhibition, Virginia Law and Justice. It was on the subject of human rights and citizenship in Virginia history. I enjoyed the old photos and the style of hand writing in the old documents (no computers back then). I peeked in the Café and took a turn in the gift shop.
I attended workshops designed to teach me to enhance the customer’s experience and increase customer satisfaction. I was advised to meet with people at organizations who serve older adults. They suggested training older adults to use eReaders. We were told how other libraries are getting the Baby Boomer Generation involved in the library. There were ideas for programs to boost literacy for preschoolers, how to use outreach as marketing, and build community connections. There were several on the latest trends and technologies for outreach vehicles. There was a very interesting workshop titled: A Survey of Bookmobile and Outreach Programs Around the USA. Did you know there are vending machines in the U.S. that check out books?
There were so many creative ideas. The ones that I thought we could use include: improve your esthetics (think Trading Spaces) cleanup, paint, and create attractive displays. I brought back some samples of schedules, flyers and bookmarks that other outreach staff has created.
So, you may see some changes in the look of the schedule or the decorations in the bus when we return to the road after the addition and renovation of the Jennie Johnston McMahan Library in St. George is completed. We are looking forward to returning to our scheduled stops; seeing our long time patrons and meeting new patrons.
My Declaration of Interdependence: A First-Time Attendee’s Reflections on ACRL 2011
Immense. Vibrant. Engaged.
These words come to mind when I recall my recent experience at ACRL 2011 in Philadelphia, PA. In my six years of being a Reference Librarian at an academic institution (Columbia College), I had not yet been to ACRL. My co-workers (both of whom have been long-time librarians) had been at least once before and encouraged me to attend this year. And so, with much thanks to the State Library for this year’s LSTA Grant, I found myself on a plane bound for the City of Brotherly Love.
Philadelphia is a great city to visit! If you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend it. From the friendly Convention Center staff to the nice young man on the street who helped me and Sandy (one of my co-workers who presented a poster) find our way to the National Constitution Center, I can easily see how Philadelphia earned its nickname. And the Reading Terminal Market was incredibly fun! (I highly recommend the chocolate chip blondies at the Flying Monkey. After a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, of course.)
The conference itself was every bit what I expected: plenty of sessions to attend, posters galore, vendors of every library-related product imaginable, and even some fun, including an evening with the band Marc Fields and Bad Data. I was hoping to get Mr. Fields’ autograph – I mean, it’s not every day that you get to hear songs like “245: MARC Tags Rule!” and “VuFind Blues” - but alas, I was never able to locate the guy. Mysterious. Oh, well.
As far as the sessions go, it’s hard to say which ones were most meaningful; although, some of the Cyber Zed Shed sessions got me the most excited. I can’t wait until summer to try these toys out!
Another fantastic experience was meeting new people. I met a wonderful librarian from NC State University. We had such an engaging conversation after one particular session that I was almost late to the next event! Needless to say, we plan to keep in touch.
And I don’t think conference organizers could have made better choices for keynote speakers. From a sneak peek at Tiffany Shlain’s new movie Connected to Char Booth’s thoughts on “being good enough” (a bit of pithy advice shared by her partner’s mother) to Jaron Lanier’s reference to Google’s “tremendous squad of nerds,” their ideas were thought-provoking as well as entertaining. I was particularly taken with some of Lanier’s more sage observations and advice:
So, what did the conference experience leave me with?
For one, I’m supercharged and ready to forge even further ahead with the Embedded Librarian service that the Edens Library staff have now firmly established here at Columbia College. I have also come to realize that the mutually positive and beneficial relationship the Columbia College library and IT staff enjoy is a wonderful (and perhaps rare) thing.
Oh, and I think I have some ideas for a new job title, thanks to Lanier and Booth, respectively: Folk Artist of Human Knowledge and Information Research Therapist.
(But somehow I have a feeling my Director might be a bit dubious about such a title change, so perhaps I’ll keep those ideas to myself.) In summary, it was a whirlwind four days in Philadelphia. But these are the kinds of experiences you savor at such conferences. After you’ve crammed your carry-on (which has now almost doubled in size due to all the handouts, freebies and maybe a souvenir or two) into the plane’s overhead bin and flopped down, mentally and physically spent, into your seat, these are the experiences that make you say, “Totally. Worth. Every. Minute.”
ACRL 2013 is set to be in Indianapolis!
The DigCCurr Conference - Santi Thompson
For decades now, information professionals have debated solutions regarding preserving digital content for long term access. These discussions often focus on the various roadblocks that limit our abilities to preserve materials born digitally (or digitized from the original), the types of preservation strategies that librarians and archivists can use to maintain content over time, and the durability of particular storage media. As the project manager for the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program (SCDNP), I follow these conversations with great interest because SCDNP generates thousands of digital files that need to be preserved well into the future.
In addition to these topics, there are other important factors to consider when developing a digital preservation program – particularly establishing sound policies and procedures for digital preservation. Thanks to generous support from the South Carolina State Library, I was able to attend a weeklong institute that focused on the role that policies and procedures play in digital curation and preservation in May 2011. The DigCCurr Professional Institute: Curation Practices for the Digital Object Lifecycle is a curriculum-based program produced by the School of Library and Information Science at the University of North Carolina –Chapel Hill. The institute helped attendees understand the importance of establishing good policies so institutions are ready to face the challenges of preserving digital materials from their creation. This pro-active approach tries to change the long held notion that archivists and librarians need only to consider digital preservation once the material finds its way from its creators to the library or archive. The week of events included lectures, lab experiments, and plenty of time to engage with other information professionals from all around the country. Key topics during the institute included core professional principals of digital curation, the roles and responsibilities of individuals charged with digital curation, and the ethics involved with preserving digital content over time.
In addition to the lectures and labs, a critical component to the institute invites attendees to create their own projects based on the curriculum discussed during the week. With a colleague, I am currently conducting a risk-assessment survey of the policies and procedures at the University of South Carolina Libraries’ Digital Collections department using the Digital Repository Audit Method Based on Risk Assessment (DRAMBORA) tool, which is one of the curation tools attendees learned about at DigCCurr. This assessment will help the department identify particular areas to focus more attention on in the future and will also assist us in filling in any policy gaps that may exist. Through this work, we will strengthen the department’s policies on preserving digital content.
In January 2012, the DigCCurr Institute will meet again for a two day recap. During this time, I will share my experiences with using the DRAMBORA tool and what the findings were from the Digital Collections department. Other attendees will also discuss the work that they have conducted since the first institute in May 2011. After the two days of the institute, DigCCurr will host a public form called CurateGear, which will focus on new and emerging curation tools and methods. I am excited to share my experiences and learn some new skills that will impact how we preserve digital data over time at the Digital Collections department.
Patricia Sasser attended the Library Research Seminar V – October 6-9, 2010 in Hyattsville, MD. Here is her report:
Isn’t research on and about libraries part of every library conference? Of course the answer to this question is yes – but the Library Research Round Table (LRRT) of the American Library Association has a special interest not only in the results of research but in promoting and supporting the act of library research itself. LRRT does this in a number of ways and one of the most significant is the Library Research Seminar, a conference held once every three to five years.
In October of 2010, the Library Research Seminar V was held at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. I received a Conference Attendance Grant made possible by a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered by the South Carolina State Library. With this support, I traveled to Maryland to attend the conference and to present a paper entitled “A New Empiricism: Does Changing Resources Change Research?” This paper charted doctoral students’ use of digital resources over time, attempting to quantify ways in which digital resources may be changing the act of research. I was excited to attend the conference, both because I looked forward to receiving feedback on my own paper and because I anticipated all that I would learn from other librarians and archivists about their engagement with the act of research.
The conference opened with a plenary address from Dr. David Gracy (formerly State Archivist of Texas), who gave a compelling argument for the continuing importance of research even in times of financial and political uncertainty. He emphasized that the preservation and investigation of our cultural heritage is often perceived as a luxury rather than a necessity; it is the obligation of librarians, archivists and other information professionals to demonstrate the essential position of research in our communities. This address set the stage for the ten concurrent sessions that followed during the three days of the conference.
These sessions included (among many other things) research on archiving social media and other web 2.0 technologies, shared digital repositories, acquiring research skills through gaming, the use of Kindles in academic libraries, and workforce issues. Although all the presenters used different methodologies, a recurring theme was the challenges and the opportunities presented by ever-evolving library technology. After my own presentation, I appreciated the thoughtful comments and questions of colleagues. This feedback, along with the sessions I attended, prompted me to consider my own research questions in new ways and suggested new areas I might explore. Without the support of the Conference Attendance Grant and the South Carolina State Library, I would not have been able to attend the conference. I am extremely grateful for the ways that the Grant has facilitated my research; I would encourage every librarian in the state to consider applying for this grant to attend a similar conference.
Joey Holmes, Library Assistant, Laurens County Public Library, attended ARSL/ABOS in October, 2010. This joint conference for the two associations was held in Denver, CO. Joey’s report:
I recently attended the ARSL & ABOS conference in Denver. I appreciate the chance to go and thank you for funding that helped make this possible. The sessions were very informative. I attended:
Keynotes, moderated discussions, and networking events were worthwhile also. I am already using some ideas I got in Denver for adult programs in 2011! Hopefully other concepts can be implemented soon that will be helpful to us in terms of: safety, fund-raising, community awareness, service, and other areas as well. Again, thank you for all that you did in helping me secure the funding that made it possible for me to attend this VERY informative conference.
Philip Cheney from the Oconee County Library System attended the conference of the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) in the Fall of 2010.
As part of the conference he had the opportunity to tour two of seven “Anythink” libraries in the Denver area. The “Anythink brand” identifies the libraries as open to new and revolutionary ideas for services and resources, green construction, and sustainable practices. Library staff job titles and descriptions changed to include three different job titles: "wrangler," "concierge" or "guide." Branch managers are now called "Anythink managers." All staff who work for the district are referred to as "Anythinkers." Rangeview Library District and its Anythink libraries were the recipients of the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Philip videotaped with commentary his tour of the two branches.