I can sum up my experience at NYLA in an acronym (appropriate, I think, for the library profession and love of organization).
NYLA was “RLMP”–Reenergizing and Learning through Meeting People. And through having a glass of wine over fried scallops.
So, I’ll begin the story with our drive up to Saratoga. Aaron and I drove up Thursday night, with a great playlist of rotating Portishead, Massive Attack, and iSchooler Conversation AM radio (i.e. Aaron and I talking on the 3 hour drive). I learned a great deal from going to NYLA even though I was only there for Friday. Friday was a big day, however, with information sessions, the famed and pithy pecha kucha presentations (kudos to Matt Gunby and Topher Lawton), tradeshow chatting, lunch, and meet and greet at The Wine Bar. The info sessions I attended were: “Beyond Ebooks” Bibliographies, and the Intellectual Freedom Roundtable. Please ask me more about the sessions in person, not least because I would love to talk to you about your ideas regarding banned books, banned book week, and if you think Manga is a type of child pornography, all issues brought up heatedly in the IFRT session. Finally, I joined LAMS and FIRT for a mere $7 dollars (…plus awesome socks, an intellectual freedom badge, and a tongue-in-cheek cat bag!).
Overall, I was excited by Saratoga Springs area and the vigor of the professionals who spoke at the info sessions. The point of these conferences is to talk to folks who are on the bleeding edge of the library profession. When you connect with library professionals, from the president of NYLA to the vendor selling “books that would survive the apocalypse—just look at that binding!,” that sort of energy reminds you of why you came to library school. It was intellectually revitalizing too because the information sessions and lunch talks with IFRT librarians from Queens brought me more up to speed with the contemporary debate in information studies.
The conference information session schedule defines what is important in Library Land—those with a voice at NYLA are shaping the profession.I experienced the bizarre 6th sense of being able to pick out a librarian from the Saratogans. Granted, librarians were abundant this weekend in Saratoga because of NYLA. But hey share characteristics of unabashed quirkiness (case in point: the leader of IFRT intellectual freedom roundtable’s colonel-esque waxed mustache), expressions of inquisition or sharp-eyed awareness as if you can tell *thinking* is their job.
NYLA reaffirmed many of the ideas we learn about in Dave’s 511, from the importance of locality to a librarian as necessarily political and that defending the right to intellectual freedom and issues of privacy makes up much of the bedrock of librarianship.
Networking People I Met: People have this skewed idea about what “networking” is. We often picture this: Networking involves walking into a room, charming a powerful professional over drinks, handing you resume and business card to her and before you know it, you are shaking hands, laughing, nibbling tapenades, and have a job as a Cornell archivist. BAM. Got a job.
Networking is a process, not an event. Showing your face at a conference like NYLA is a statement of interest and professional investment. The fact that you chose to allocate your most precious resource, time, because of self-initiative to come to the conference sends a message to those present that you find the grand whirlwind worthwhile.
Re-energize: So many librarians and enthusiasm and organization of people coming from all walks of librarianship. It was exciting and enlightening to be around people immersed in librarianship every day. The attitude of professionals in Library Land (from Sue Kowalski, to Queens Librarians, to NYC School of Journalism Library) is highly engaged. People in library circles who attend NYLA are diverse, good-humored, and brilliant marketers, and especially good at pulling you into their booths. I learned that the library and information science field is anything but narrow.
To conclude, I personally learned that I need concrete career goals. There is a danger in lacking a clear direction and vision. I might be snatched up by an enthusiastic professional who wants me, but I do not necessarily want to work for them. With the benevolent Pandora’s Box of information professions available, one must focus and specialize career goals. If you do not take control of your goals, you will not be in the driver’s seat of your own professional development.
Even though I went to NYLA, I did not go all three days, nor all three sessions. Feedback from other students would be great!