Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That, Or, How I Picked Sessions at LOEX

I'm still mulling over what I want to write about the presentation I gave at LOEX this year. It went well, for sure. People laughed at my jokes and asked the right kinds of questions when I was done, so I'm counting it as a success. But that's a post that's still percolating. Instead, I'm going to tell you about something else that I did at LOEX.

This may come as a surprise, since most of what I see written about conferences is about networking while there, but I attended some sessions. For me, the whole point of attending conferences is professional development. I know, you're shocked. Bear with me, though. I want to explain how I pick sessions because I was clueless about conferences at the beginning of my career.

At LOEX...

  1. I attended some sessions that will benefit current projects. For instance, we're starting up an online presence - blended learning mostly - so at LOEX I went to a couple of sessions about converting and updating online information literacy courses. The biggest thing I learned from these sessions is that I've already done my homework and that I'm ready to do this thing. 
  2. I also picked some that could help with future projects. Chris Sweet, of Illinois Wesleyan University, gave an amazing presentation about how he teamed up with a service learning course to integrate information literacy. Sweet's assertion is that service learning and information literacy have the same end goals. This session was one of the best I attended, and his ideas got me so fired up that I made an appointment for next week to talk about Sweet's ideas with our director of service learning.
  3. Finally, and this is the thing I always neglected in the past, I went to a couple of things just for the fun of it. I attended a session about graphic novels and I watched the lightning talks (I'm not sure I could give an entire talk in 7 minutes, so I wanted to see others try it). 

Yes, I make sure to go to sessions that help me develop as a professional, but all work and no play make Jessica a dull librarian, so I make sure to have some fun as well.

How about you? How do you pick sessions at conferences? Or, if you've never been to one, what kinds of sessions do you think you'd like to see?


  1. I'm still in library school and recently attended my first Rural Library Conference (Michigan). Selecting which workshops/break-out sessions to attend was challenging! It's moments like those I wish I had Hermione Granger's time-turner necklace.

    After much thought and deliberation, I ended up picking sessions which I thought would supplement and build on the courses I've taken thus far as well as help fill gaps I've identified. For example, there was a session on graphic novels, manga, and anime -- this topic wasn't really covered much in collection development and I was feeling pretty clueless about manga and anime!

    I chose to attend a session that focused on LGBTQ collections -- another area in which I knew bolstering.

    1. Wow! There was a session on LGBTQ collections at a rural library conference. I'm impressed!

    2. *needed bolstering

      I was impressed, too! What was disappointing: attendance was very low.

  2. If you have a mentor type person, ask to follow that person around for part of the day to see which sessions interest her and why. Could lead to some interesting conversations.

    I usually pick sessions to inform future projects. Sometimes, like on day 3 of the conference when I'm feeling like a zombie, I'll just wander into a random meeting room and listen to whatever's happening. Serendipity!

    Over time you'll come to know which people are the best presenters. If I know someone's a great presenter, the topic doesn't matter as much, because I know I'll stay engaged. I just use it as an opportunity to pick up presentation ideas.

    1. I've never had the benefit of a mentor at a conference. What a great idea.

  3. Being a library student, I should add that I am quite familiar with the different libraries in my area due to tours, observations, and interviewing staff for various projects -- this fact also helped me select which sessions to attend. Most of the Thumb Area libraries seem to have a pretty good handle on Christian / Inspirational Fiction -- I skipped that session and opted for a workshop on Non-Fiction RA which is sometimes known to make even the most seasoned librarian squirm. :)

    (Sorry about the typo in my last comment.)