Our conferences and events discussion topic prompted ILN participant Anna Shelmerdine to reminisce about her first conference experience – and about how she’s currently living and breathing conferences! Thanks Anna for this guest post:
I remember my first conference. It was an ALIA Access in Brisbane, Australia in 2010. A couple of months earlier I had started my first paid library job. I was very excited about everything to do with libraries, so when I saw a call for volunteers I jumped at the opportunity. The conference was three days packed with tours, sessions, workshops and exhibitions, and I was in the middle of it. Of course, it was a lot of work. I could only see some of the events and not always the ones I wanted to see the most. But what I did see was great.
The highlight for me was a tour of a very innovative library for the Pharmacy Australia Centre of Excellence. It had only just opened then and looked very impressive. In my spare time between duties I visited the exhibitor hall. There I was, strutting in my heels (a note of caution, don’t wear heels if you’re going to run around the whole venue all day…) talking to stallholders like I had millions of dollars in my library budget. I felt super-important. I even chatted to the then-president of ALIA. It was like meeting a celebrity!
Fast forward to 2015. There was a time in the last five years when I wasn’t interested in anything library-related, I wanted out of this field. Luckily, I’ve since changed cities and have a new library position. I feel reinvigorated and invested again. An opportunity recently presented itself to get involved in another conference; not as a volunteer this time, but as an organiser. And again, I jumped at it. This conference hasn’t happened yet. We’re a month away and there is still so much to do. It is incredible how much work is put into a small conference like this. Unlike the earlier ALIA conference, ours (IAML Australia) has a specialised target audience – librarians (or future librarians) who work with music. It’s a big learning curve for me, but my wonderful colleagues from the organising committee are helping out.
I would like to think I’m bringing enthusiasm and and fresh ideas to the table. One of our meetings was dedicated to marketing, so in true librarian style I began reading up on techniques for how to successfully market a conference. Apart from the obvious social media posts, we noticed a lot of short informative videos cropping up in various articles. So I thought: Let’s make a video! Mind you, I’ve never done anything like this before. I went from being excited about the prospect to doubting I could make this happen in a very limited timeframe. But in the end, it worked! I decided on a topic – How to get to the conference without spending a fortune; and enlisted my husband as the cameraman and editor. It’s a simple video, but I wanted to make it so that those who are only just starting their library careers, gain some confidence in approaching their managers about funding.
And guess what… it’s on YouTube now:
It’s branded for IAML Australia but it can be edited under an Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike Creative Commons licence (this licence lets others distribute, remix and build upon the work, but only if it is for non-commercial purposes, they credit the original creator/s (and any other nominated parties) and they license their derivative works under the same terms)
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