Its the beginning of March, and even though I’m in college I’m not looking forward to my Spring Break. I’m looking forward to going to Boston for PLA.

Why, you may ask. Well its because at PLA I have the opportunity to meet with other librarians, see new places, and absorb a wealth of information from professionals all over the United States. The presenters are not paid to attend these conferences, but rather come to share what they have learned so that others may experience similar positive results. For me PLA is a breeding ground for great ideas, and who wouldn’t be excited about being involved in that.

I am halfway through my Library Science program, and attended both National and local conferences. The difference is astounding. At the national conference I was able to attend sessions of librarians who wrote articles, books, and blog; I was surrounded by dozens of authors of books I had read; and was able to leave with my suitcase full of ARCs, 5 bags full of “goodies”, and a head full of ideas.

I would recommend attending a national conference to everyone, but especially current Library Science students, and new librarians. While a student, ALA offers an excellent benefit of discounted conference admission and membership fees. If interested in working in a library you can not afford to pass this up.

Working with young adults requires a library that stays on the cutting edge of librarianship, which can still be two to three years behind the lives of the young adults. Attending conferences, participating in online classes, pushing yourself and your library to try new things, and sharing ideas with colleagues will keep our young adult departments meeting the needs of these important patrons long into the future.

posted by Jami Schwarzwalder

About Jami Schwarzwalder

Currently a teen librarian with the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA.She is passionate about technology, making, and learning. See what I'm up to at

2 Thoughts on “Importance of Conferences

  1. Linda Braun [Member] on March 5, 2006 at 10:43 am said:

    I’m glad to read this because I think sometimes students assume they aren’t invited to conference, or they won’t know enough, or it’s too scary, or something similar. It’s good to hear from a new librarian some of the reasons to attend and how to think about attendance. One thing I wondered when I read the post was if you have any suggestions for student first time attendees in terms of how to handle conference planning and participating. Thoughts?

  2. Jami Schwarzwalder [Member] on March 5, 2006 at 9:45 pm said:

    The only advice I have for first time attendees is to make sure that you enjoy yourself. I normally review the events making a tentative plan for what I want to attend mixing topics I am currently studying with people or issues I am not very familiar with. I don’t always go to my first choice because its full or I spend more time in the exhibit hall, but each day I have one session that is a must see, that I will show up early for to ensure a seat. I also break up the exhibit hall into smaller portions to go through at various times.(First day will most likely be a mad dash for freebies)

    One librarian told me to take address labels with my contact information for the exhibit hall. I always fill out any forms I can during lunch or even in my room at night to save me time.

    Another piece of advice is to make sure you talk. Talk with librarians. Talk with presentors. Talk with the exhibitors in the exhibit hall. You are their future, and they will gladly answer any questions you have.

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