This week I spent about a day, or two half-days, at the 2009 New York Library Association conference in Niagara Falls. The theme of the conference was "Libraries: Peace, Love & Freedom," and many of the vendors and NYLA division booths were decked with tie-dye, lava lamps, peace signs, and other hippie paraphernalia. There were also some sessions on intellectual freedom in libraries and other relevant issues, although I only made it to two panels due to time constraints. I must poke gentle fun at the theme, having lived a bit too long in Berkeley, but it was a colorful theme and I got a neat pair and a half of socks!
I volunteered at the iSchool booth when I first arrived, chatting with prospective students and alumni. I also attended two conference sessions. One was a panel of representatives from library schools around the state, talking about what's going on in their programs. Megan Oakleaf, my professor for 605, represented Syracuse and discussed the cooperative projects between students and libraries in IST 613, Library Planning, Marketing, & Assessment, which I'll be taking next semester. I'm glad I went to that, because it got me thinking about what I might do for my project. I also went to a session on Living History Through Social Networking, which discussed the use of social networking tools to teach information literacy. See the wiki here. I learned a lot about Twitter especially that I didn't already know, and now I have a better idea of how to use it both personally and professionally.
The best part of the conference was the SU reception for students, faculty, and alumni on Thursday night. Not just because of the wine! but also because I got to meet alumni and other students. As a distance student, it's easy to feel isolated from other people, so I really enjoyed interacting with people in person, and especially meeting students who began the program this fall on campus and are in roughly the same place that I am. It's also interesting to hear perspectives on how courses are taught in person vs. online.
It also occurred to me that conferences are like the gateway week in the summer (or maybe it's the other way around!) - you can get away from the distractions of daily life for a few days (and I've discovered as I go on how many distractions we distance students have, especially jobs, families, and kids) and dive head first into the exciting world of librarianship. It's really invigorating; as I did after IST 511, I came home full of ideas and enthusiasm for the path I'm headed down. I also discovered that sections of NYLA such as ASLS (academic and special libraries) have their own little conferences, and the ASLS is having theirs in my husband's hometown of Ithaca next June, so I have a lot more of these to look forward to!
5 weeks ago