Last week, I addressed how my conference presentation went and what I learned during the conference. I also promised there was still more to the story. That’s what I plan to address this week.
Conferences are more than just attending sessions. There is also the social aspect and it is just as important. You never know who you will meet and the role they could play in your life then or later. Sometimes, those individuals become friends. Other times mentors. Yet others could be future colleagues. Then there are the people you already know that are great to see again. Without further ado, the rest of the conference through my eyes.
No sooner had I checked in at the registration table than I heard my name called. One of my friends (and former project supervisor and full librarian colleague from Ellis Library) had spotted me and waved me over. We hugged and I noticed another friend (and full librarian) from Ellis was sitting nearby. They had been talking before I arrived. We went to lunch and caught up. For the next two days, we formed the nucleus of the ever-changing group of people from Ellis to eat lunch together. Day two included my former supervisor and day three two of the new grad assistants. It was great to spend time with those I knew and to learn about changes at Ellis and in the MLS program from the new students. Plus the new grad assistants were also nice people I was glad to meet. Day two also saw me eating breakfast with the same group plus others from Ellis. I also spent time with my best friend from grad school. While we only saw each other in passing throughout the conference, during our MLS program’s reception we sat and talked for over an hour.
Throughout the conference I met new people. At the meet and greet I finally placed faces to the names of people I only saw in the organization’s correspondence and publications. One even offered to look over my résumé. At the vendor fair/trade show I not only spent some time chatting with my connection at Penguin Random House, but I also met and talked with new people. One was a librarian elsewhere who went to the same undergrad and studied in the same department as I, just a few years before my time. Another was a jobber who first asked what I was presenting one they he asked about my job search and offered to help. One person my friend introduced me to I saw and spoke with at multiple events; now all three of us plus two others I went to school with will all be serving on the web committee (I’ll be helping convert the website to WordPress from Dreamweaver). During Battledecks, a charades/stand-up comedy event, I spent the time before it started chatting with a librarian with whom I had a shared interest in nature photography. Our paths crossed several more times and she also attended my presentation.
As great as all the continuing education was, the social aspects of the conference were a bit euphoric. It was great spending time with old friends and making new ones. It also felt nice to be seen as a professional for three days instead of the oft taken-for-granted fill-in-where-needed person.
Old Stomping Grounds:
The conference was held in the same city as where I went to grad school. Therefore I was on very familiar grounds. I wanted to see campus and return to Ellis and the historical society and see those who could not attend the conference. But alas, there was no time. I did grab a couple of hours bouncing between my old shopping places near the conference center (Micheals, Barnes and Noble, Target, and Natural Grocer) after the conference ended. And I made a trip to the nearest of the three Hy-Vees (not the one I used to visit weekly)! I miss that store! As much as I utilize the two great chains in my area, nothing can compare to the selection and prices at Hy-Vee. Plus it still has the best selection of allergy-safe foods. I wish we had one in our area! Lastly, I got to have dinner my last night with a family who lives out there. I drove home the next day.
That concludes the conference through my eyes. I do not yet know if I’ll be able to attend next year. If I still do not have a full time job, I doubt it. If I do, then it depends on if the institution will allow it. Do you have any questions about these aspects of my experience?