Today’s guest post comes from Lora Worden from Portland, Oregon in the USA:
There are countless reasons to attend library conferences: invaluable networking opportunities, gathering new program ideas, meeting the authors we love, enhancing our collections, and scoring swag. Attending conferences as a student can be especially beneficial, providing an exciting introduction to the field. Most conferences offer considerable student discounts. There are also scholarships to help cover the costs associated with conferences. Presenting at a conference may even get you in for free.
A highlight of my conference attendance was presenting at the YALSA YA Literature Conference last fall in Austin, Texas. The theme was “The Real Teen in Young Adult Literature.” I presented a poster session on young adult characters in foster care, shedding light on an invisible minority that often remains unrepresented in discussions of diversity and inclusivity in libraries and in literature. Of course, the real high point came when I met Jacqueline Woodson, author of two novels featuring characters in foster care: Locomotion and Tupac & D Foster , as well as many other award-winning books. I invited Ms. Woodson to visit my poster session, and was honored that she came by. It’s these moments of connection, whether with writers, librarians, support staff, or vendors that encapsulate the value of conferences: they feed the fiery passion that brought us into this field in the first place.
Imagine what might happen if we spread that fiery passion to people outside the library profession! Just as there are many reasons to attend library conferences, there are also many reasons to attend professional conferences in complementary fields. As an aspiring Children’s and Youth Librarian, I’ve found it worthwhile to present at early childhood education conferences and will soon present a session on afterschool literacy activities at the OregonASK conference. These conferences provide all of the benefits of library conferences—networking, skill building, inspiration, and yes, swag—while also supporting outreach initiatives.
I hope presenting at conferences outside the library profession has a ripple effect. Fueled by my passion for multicultural literature, I teach childcare providers why it’s important to include multicultural books in their programs (think windows and mirrors). I offer tips on how to locate and evaluate such books, and how to use such materials in their programs. This is yet another way that I can serve my community, because educators need these training hours and children need these books. And who knows? Maybe the passion will spread.
Thank you for sharing Lora!