I have only attended one library conference – and it was a fantastic experience.
With a background in teaching and my role at the time linked to my library’s children’s team, I was fortunate to attend the 2013 CILIP Youth Libraries Conference (YLG) in Birmingham. Attending a conference in a different part of the country is, in itself a positive experience and one of the only things virtual conferences cannot give you.
Travelling is learning, and as such I wanted to make use of my journey to the conference, which allowed me to drop in at the British Library for their Children’s Illustrations exhibition, then on to explore Birmingham, part of the country had never visited before (to my shame, it’s a wonderful place!) and prior to the start of the conference visit the Julia Donaldson exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and sneaked in for a look around at the new Library of Birmingham.
Attending the two day conference allowed me to meet other like-minded individuals, including children’s publishers, authors and the wonderful people that are children’s and school librarians (often solitary but with bundles of enthusiasm, keenness, overflowing with ideas on how you can improve your library with absolutely no money ,dried up felt-tip pens and sometimes tomatoes).
I am rubbish at remembering names and tend to lose name cards, so alongside a notepad, I put contact details directly into my phone helped to keep details from getting lost, grouping contacts under a conference ‘list’ for future reference.
A Lauren Child’s illustrated tomato a children’s librarian had plans for!
I came away from the conference with a real buzz for my role and an enthusiasm for what I could achieve over the next year or so. Spending time with others in you profession also meant after-conference-hours discussions, something that is often limited through phone calls or virtual conferences and yet resulted in many useful names, links and book contacts.
Since 2013 there has been limited opportunities for attending conferences for me due to lack of funds. Despite the lack of funding through work, I have applied through through CILIP bursaries to attend conferences. All have failed to get any funding opportunities to attend conferences.*sigh*
I know that I am not the only one that finds this frustrating, but in the present financial climate of cutbacks and expensive travel, it is increasingly becoming the norm.
But this does not deter me! Oh no! This year I attended CILIP’s Conference in Liverpool through Twitter (@knightystar)
Whilst physically being at a conference has the benefits of being able to see certain talks, it also means that sometimes you end up watching presentations that don’t really apply to you. So attending virtually can assist. Whilst I had a few issues getting onto Periscope, there were many ways of experiencing the conference:
One particular talk I wanted to see was by R David Lankes ‘An Action Plan for World Domination Through Librarianship’ and I was able to interact with through twitter and listen to his talk thus saving me the time and expense of travelling to Liverpool to attend.
The conference twitter feed was awash with information and views from the conference. There was a minor issues on twitter that there appeared to be two different conference hashtags going around, so I had to try keeping up with both feeds to ‘see’ what was going on.
Although I am sad not to be attending as many (make that any!) conferences as I would like, virtual tools make conferences more readily available to those that cannot attend.
In future I will be book marking the conferences I cannot get to and following the speakers I want to see at their various times via twitter and hope that library conferences and specialist group meetings (YLG) link up through a virtual medium for those unable to attend.
I will also write a blog post about the conference/presentation shortly afterwards as I think this will allow me to remember all the details, names and (with photos) remind me of the specific useful messages I will take from the conference for future use.
Photo credit: Lauren Child’s illustrated tomato taken by https://booksandbeatsandbeets.wordpress.com/