Monday, July 8, 2013

48 Hours at NYLA: A Student’s Trip to the 2011 Library Conference

 This post originally appeared on Information Space, the blog of the iSchool at Syracuse University, on 9 November 2011.

I’ve just returned to Syracuse after two packed days at the 2011 New York Library Association conference. The trip was great, Saratoga Springs has a beautiful downtown, I met a bunch of great people and I learned a lot! People have been asking me why librarians bother going to conferences, but I think my schedule speaks for itself.
THURSDAY, November 3rd, 2011
12:00 PM: Arrived at the conference center and headed straight for the exhibition hall. Said hello to the SU School of information Studies booth, then talked with vendors about their offerings—learned about audiobooks, library bindings, jobbers and acquisitions assistance, digitization and tracking tools—too much for one visit!
1:45 PM: “21 More Ideas for 21st Century Libraries,” a presentation given by Kimberly Bolan Cullin (SU alumna ’95) and Rob Cullin.  We looked at some of the coolest ideas showing up in libraries worldwide, from collaborative workspaces to specially-zoned teen, children’s, & reference areas, and started to re-envision the library!
3:00 PM: Got food, explored the area around the conference center. Headed back just in time for the next workshop.
4:00 PM: “Sex in YA fiction: How Far is Too Far?” Lecture by Eric Luper, author of numerous YA novels. Learned a litmus test for sex and other questionable content in Young Adult fiction, and how to judge whether or not a scene is gratuitous. We explored the issues surrounding graphic content in YA that will face librarians as authors explore more radical subject areas.
5:15 PM: Back to exhibition halls to meet up with the iSchool contingent (a bunch of us attended!), and headed to a networking reception at a local restaurant. Met great librarians in every facet of librarianship, and connected with them for the future!
8:00 PM: Homeward bound—Friday’s another long day!
FRIDAY, November 4th, 2011
9:00 AM: Arrived, stopped by the exhibition hall to say hello, and headed to first session!
9:30 AM: “Building a Dynamic Website ROCKS!” This workshop presented a number of tools and strategies for website creation that libraries might find useful. I had already explored most of the tips and resources that were presented, thanks to the coursework here at SU, so I left the presentation a bit early and headed back to the exhibition.
10:15 AM: Spent the rest of the morning concluding my information-gathering in the exhibition hall, but was also excited to see the poster sessions! Two of them especially stood out:
  • LibraryPalooza at the University at Albany, SUNY. It was great to see how the library is introduced to incoming first-years. I was also really glad to see a presentation using the “lightning talk” Pecha Kucha model (Similar to the Ignite format, and a presentation style I can’t wait to try).
  • The Fayetteville Free library has recently embarked on a new venture: the Fayetteville Fab Lab. It’s designed to help people become creators of information, not just consumers, and will feature all sorts of cool gadgets to help people create–with librarians there to guide them!
12:00 PM: Went to get lunch with a few other iSchoolers. It’s great to get to know classmates in the conference setting; it’s very energizing, but casual as well. Then I spent some time with the SU volunteers. NYLA was full of SU alumni this year, and most of them stopped by at least once to say hello. It’s wonderful to see the sort of network I’ll have upon graduation!
2:15 PM: “Teen Spaces Reimagined,” with two SU alums on the panel, discussed the implications on community and library use when teenagers are given their own library space. This was a great panel because both school and public libraries were represented, and all of the presenters mentioned again and again how connected their libraries were to each other. This panel drove home some of the ideas I’ve been hearing in my classes about participatory librarianship—we’re all connected, and librarians are rapidly becoming guides to digital creation and collaboration, not just assisting patrons looking for a new book.
3:45 PM: In keeping with the participatory librarianship theme, my next panel was “Making Music at Your Library,” presenting ways to get libraries involved as venues for the archiving, creating, and presenting of music. I think there’s great potential here—the Far Rockaway branch of the Queens Library has recently introduced a recording studio, and is training young people to use it!
5:00 PM: After the last presentation of the day, I headed down to Mouzon House, a local restaurant, for the Syracuse University iSchool reception. It was wonderful to spend time with alumni, students, faculty, and staff, the food was delicious, and it certainly helped my time at the conference end on a high note!
All in all, NYLA was a great way to get my feet wet, and start learning about professional conferences in librarianship. Can’t wait for next year!

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