Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Revisiting Big Conferences

Jealous of other tweeters? Yes. Yes, I am.

As I've been watching the Twitter back channel for the American Library Association Mid-Winter conference, I've been experiencing a ton of jealousy. So much so that I feel the need to retract a lot of what I said in the third post I ever wrote for this blog, "Why I Went to ALA Annual (But May Never Go Again)."

I still stand by what I said about this conference not being the be-all-end-all of librarianship, but I've come to realize big conferences can be a fantastic experience if you know what you're doing. Here are the things I always seem to get out of bigger conferences like ALAAC and MW, and ACRL:
  • Meeting Online Friends In Person. This is the biggest thing I get out of big big BIG conferences. Sure, I've met up with people I knew from online at small regional and/or specialty conferences, but the bigger the conference the more people I end up seeing. 
  • More Options for Learning. ALA usually feels a bit more public library focused, but there was still plenty to be learned. And, if all else fails, the conversations I fall into while eating lunch or strolling down the aisles of the exhibit floor give me just as much if not more than actual sessions,
  • Bigger Audiences. As you may have noticed, I tend to have strong opinions about libraries and higher education. I love how broadly my blog is read these days, but sometimes there's nothing better for getting yourself heard than actually talking at a conference. 
Sure, there are plenty of drawbacks to attending national library conference. The expense of registration alone can be enough to make you second guess yourself, and then there's the travel and the hotel and the meals and and and... But, really, other than that first one that inspired my early cynical post, it's been worth it every single time.

How about you? What do you think of the big conferences?

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