Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Librarians Rebooted: ALA 2012

One of the greatest benefits of attending a conference is the encouragement received from other librarians. Currently, most libraries are likely  under so many budget cuts and restrictions that the answer to any new idea is probably "No." Over time, it begins to not only wear on a person, but it discourages innovation. The obvious problem is that we need new innovative ideas now more than ever. We don’t provide better services by cutting; we only do that by innovating.

photo courtesy of Jazzy Wright 
I've spoken at the California Library Association and at Internet Librarian, but it was a special thrill to speak at the American Library Association's Annual Conference. I spoke about our "Job in a Box" program for E-Government in Action - Matching People with Jobs. This is part of our concept "Your Library in More Places" proving that our library can indeed be everywhere, when and where you need it. 

We've been expanding our book machine program for some time. We recently purchased two more machines: the first to be deployed at one of our branch libraries, making it a 24/7 library, and another one near a school, much like our Cutler machine. Because our purchase of the machine was so close to ALA, PIK Inc. asked if they could display our machine in the exhibit hall. It has a new fun design on the side that will hopefully catch the attention of patrons.

Additionally, I participated in the ALA Outreach and Diversity fair for the California State Library's Literacy and Outreach programs. They also highlighted our book machines and other programs to help connect patrons with jobs. 

The opportunity to participate in committee work is another benefit of attending a national conference. I currently serve on the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) for the Leadership Skills Committee and now also the Human Resources Management Committee. LLAMA is at the forefront of providing programs that will help librarians step into management and leadership roles. To further this goal, LLAMA recently revamped the mentoring program.

National and state conferences contribute to the vitality and development of our profession. Participating in these conferences is beneficial to the individual librarian, but also to the home library and community. This work is invigorating, but one of the keys to maintaining that passion is to find ways to replenish it. Conference is a great way to do that and come charging back with fresh energy!