by Julia Glynn Warga
I can’t believe it is already September. Another summer and another American Library Association (ALA) conference have come and gone. Twice a year I attend the ALA conferences Midwinter Meeting in January and Annual Conference in late June. During each conference I am introduced to new colleagues and ideas. My conference experience is typically divided into four areas of interest: Committee Work, Professional Development, People, and Events. I am always exhausted when I return home, but also reinvigorated by what I have accomplished, what I have seen, and whom I have met.
Scheduling my time during conference is a big challenge, and this year in Washington D.C. was no different, especially because I tried to include more activities. Besides going to my usual meetings for the Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) and the International Relations Round Table (IRRT), I also attended the English Librarians Discussion group, a soiree hosted by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) for librarians who do instruction, and various programs including sessions on sister library programs, censorship issues, and how to market your library. While I had hoped to also participate in a discussion for anthropology librarians and attend a committee meeting for reference librarians, there is only so much time. Maybe next year!
A highlight for me this year was presenting a poster on the exhibit floor. Two coworkers and I presented a poster on how our library significantly increased our reference and instruction statistics in one year by implementing a few simple and inexpensive ideas such as moving our reference desk and hosting a back-to-school game night at our library. Librarians from around the country were impressed with our outcomes, and we were very pleased with the positive reactions that we received.
Through my involvement with the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) as their New Members Round Table (NMRT) liaison to the Freedom to Read Foundation, I met Aubrey Madler, the 2010 Gordon Conable Scholarship recipient. The Conable Scholarship is awarded annually to a library school student or new professional who is actively involved or interested in becoming more involved in intellectual freedom activities to attend the ALA Annual Conference. For more information on the scholarship, click here. Aubrey was very enthusiastic to attend her first ALA conference, and I look forward to seeing her again at future conferences. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom blog featured posts by Aubrey reflecting upon her experiences.
Another special event for me at this year’s conference was the 40th Anniversary Gala for the LeRoy C. Merritt Fund held at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The fund exists to help support librarians who need assistance due to workplace discrimination or defending of intellectual freedom-related issues. The event was lovely with about 100 librarians in attendance, a delicious dinner, and speech by ALA past president Carol Brey-Casiano about how she once needed help from the fund. Plus the Folger Library is an extraordinary location to host such an event. Because I attended this gala, I could not attend the annual IRRT International Librarian’s Reception, but the gala was a once in a lifetime event. I don’t regret my choice.
Now it is September, and the time has come to begin thinking about preparing for the Midwinter Meeting in San Diego, California. Luckily, southern California will probably be a pleasant place to visit in early January.
Julia Glynn Warga is the Social Sciences Librarian at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, USA where she has worked since graduating in 2004 from the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science with an M.S. in library and information science. She is actively involved in various ALA-related committees and organizations including the Intellectual Freedom Round Table, the International Relations Round Table, and the Freedom to Read Foundation. Her professional interests include international relations, marketing & promotions, outreach, intellectual freedom, and collaboration. She also loves to travel. Her photo is from a spring vacation to Belgium. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org