Thing #15: Attending and presenting at conferences

I really enjoy going to conferences and workshops and look for opportunities to attend them.  It is a great way to meet other people in the profession and to learn new things.  Money is a factor; I would love to go to ALA annual or midwinter but both the membership to ALA and the conference registration are too expensive.  I have attended the Nebraska Library Association annual conference twice and will attend again this year. 

Speaking at a conference is something that is relatively new to me.  Last year I participated in the New Members Round Table poster session at NLA annual.  A coworker and I created a poster and presented our idea to a small group.  It was a good introduction to presenting; it was low-key and there weren’t a lot of people there.  This year I have signed up to present by myself at NLA.  I am not totally comfortable speaking in front of a group, so this will push me out of my comfort zone and give me valuable public speaking experience. 

As an aside, the New Members Round Table of NLA is sponsoring a resume/cover letter review session at NLA this year.  You can have your resume and cover letter reviewed by hiring managers in Nebraska for free and meet with them at the conference to hear feedback about your materials.  If you are interested, please contact me.  My contact information is on my blog.

Thing #7: Face-to-face networks and professional organizations

Participating in professional organizations is an opportunity to meet people, develop professionally, and contribute your talents.  Currently, I am a member of the Nebraska Library Association (NLA) and the Mountain Plains Library Association (MPLA).  Being a member of my state organization has been extremely beneficial to my career.  At the first NLA event I attended, I met a woman who told me about a job opening at her library system; because of this conversation, I have the job I do today.  Since then, I have been involved in the New Members Round Table and currently serve as their secretary/treasurer.  This involvement has helped me meet new people and given me the opportunity to present at events.  I am running for office for other sections as well.  I have not participated in any MPLA activities because it has not been convenient to do so.   

Recently, I have been debating about joining the American Library Association (ALA).  The membership dues are higher than NLA and I am concerned that, like MPLA, it is more challenging to become involved.  However, I am considering expanding my job search across the country and the conferences would be a great place to meet people from other libraries.  Has anyone participated in the ALA Emerging Leaders program or in ALA?  What are your thoughts on the value of being a member?

Just yesterday I had a conversation with two other young librarians about face-to-face networks.  Has anyone participated in an informal “after-hours” library network?  Thoughts?  This could be a fun way to meet others who have a passion for libraries, to share ideas, and to help one another reach new levels in our careers.