This year’s conference will take place from June 22 – 27 in Chicago, IL. These scholarships will allow librarians to take advantage of the conference’s professional development, educational and networking opportunities. Candidates must be an ALA member and submit an essay that answers the following question: “How will attending the ALA Conference contribute to my professional development?”
Each scholarship will provide up to $1,000 to defray the cost of conference registration, travel and expenses. The scholarship recipients will be honored by EBSCO and ALA representatives during the conference at a breakfast hosted by EBSCO.
The application deadline is February 1, 2023, and entries will be evaluated by a jury designated by ALA.
As a new library employee, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by conferences and the logistics involved in attending a conference. This blog post will cover basic information about LibLearnX (LLX) so you can feel more confident when attending LLX!
What is LibLearnX?
LibLearnX stands for The Library Learning Experience. It is a collaborative learning experience that sparks conversation and new ideas within the library profession and provides networking opportunities for library professionals. This year LibLearnX will be from January 27- 30, 2023 in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. LibLearnX also offers the LLX Digital Experience, a virtual option with live and on-demand sessions that are available through February 28, 2023. General information about the conference can be found here: Link to LibLearnX site.
Attendees can expect to learn, network, and celebrate. LibLearnX offers a variety of active learning experiences. Some of these experiences are: Accelerators, discussions of new and innovative ideas; the Ideas Xchange, peer conversations about trending library topics; ShopTalks, short presentations offering practical tips; and Learning Labs, action-based instruction and collaborative learning sessions aimed at addressing current issues. The full education session schedule can be found at the following link: Link to education sessions. Attendees can network by chatting with exhibitors in the LLX Marketplace, participating in interactive sessions, and attending social activities and networking breaks. Finally, celebrate colleagues, authors, books, and the library community at several awards ceremonies throughout the weekend.
Why should new ALA members attend LLX?
New library employees will benefit from attending LibLearnX because it offers excellent professional development opportunities for librarians at all career levels in a more intimate conference setting. New members of ALA can collaborate with their peers and discover solutions to challenges they face. Since LLX is highly interactive, new members will be able to expand their network in hands on learning sessions and during networking sessions.
Hotel and Travel Information
One of the greatest sources of stress surrounding conferences is the cost of travel and attendance. The ALA offers several discounts for attendees. Libraries can register four staff members and receive one complimentary registration. LIS Schools can register a group of seven students and/or faculty and receive three complimentary registrations. More information on registration costs and discounts can be found at the following link: Link to registration information. Information about hotels and transportations can be found here: Link to hotel information, Link to transportation information.
Conference Attendance Tips
Donna Hunter, Conference Marketing Specialist at the American Library Association, offers these tips to those who have not attended a conference before.
Participants who take advantage of meeting others and building relationships will be successful in expanding their networks to include peer, mentor, and mentee relationships.
When planning which sessions to attend, identify the sessions that will help you and your library the most, as well as sessions that speak to the future of libraries.
While attending the conference, think about what information your team at home can most benefit from and plan to bring that information back to the library.
Plan to report back to your manager with information on the sessions that excited you and that will benefit your career objectives or your library’s goals.
Make sure to check out the inspiring stories on the main stage and in the LLX Studio.
Meet with exhibitors in the LLX Marketplace to discuss your library’s needs.
We hope these tips and the above information help you have a safe, informative, and fun conference experience at LLX! Questions about LLX can be directed to the following link: Link to conference contact information.
As the new year approaches, many of us have begun to consider what positive changes we can make in 2023. Whether you’re a regular resolution-maker in your daily life or someone who is newly interested in setting career goals, here are a few suggestions on how you can utilize some classic resolutions to make the most of your new ALA membership.
Let’s start with a fun one – who doesn’t want to promise themself that the coming year will be full of fun trips to new locations? ALA, along with some of its 8 divisions, have options for those wanting to travel for conferences in 2023:
*LibLearnX and ARCL 2023 are both also offering a virtual attendance option; please check back later for ALA Annual and AASL 2023 to see what options are available.
Be More Social
ALA provides members many outlets for networking, connecting, and socializing. If you haven’t taken advantage of these yet, 2023 is your time!
ALA Connect – ALA Connect is a digital space where you can ask questions, make connections, and share your experience. Take some time to browse the different communities to find ones that you find interesting and consider subscribing to digests of the groups that are most relevant to you. Log in to ALA Connect with the same credentials you use for ALA.org – it’s that easy!
Join NMRT– New to librarianship, ALA membership, or both? The New Members Round Table is a great starting point to help you navigate ALA and connect with others who are doing the same. From there, consider joining a committee, subscribing to NMRT Notes, or following NMRT on social media.
Volunteer for a Committee – Looking to expand your network? Want to learn more about an ALA division, section, or round table? Seek out volunteer opportunities! You may see these advertised on ALA Connect, posted on social media, or on ALA.org. Feel free to reach out to organizers for a description of duties, time commitment, and expectations before applying.
Learn a New Skill
Those looking to build their resume of skills and abilities in the new have tons of options for online professional development. Consider:
ALA eLearning– A repository of webinars, courses, and other eLearning materials for all library professionals. Consider this a one stop shop for your training needs. You can search by category, cost, topic, ALA Division, and more!
Library Juice Academy– Library Juice Academy is an online academy that focuses on skill-building PD and continuing education for librarians and information professionals of all kinds.
Excited about the possibilities that 2023 holds but worrying about costs? There are many money-saving and scholarship options to look out for.
Shirley Olofson Memorial Award – This award is intended to help defray attendance costs to ALA Annual for one NMRT member. Application is open through December 16, 2022.
NMRT Professional Development Grant– This grant helps NMRT members attend ALA Annual with a $1000 award for conference attendance-related fees. Application is open through December 28, 2022.
ALA Scholarship Program– This program helps to fund master’s degrees in Library/Information Studies at an ALA-accredited university or equivalent study in School Librarianship. To learn more about the specific areas of support and for guidelines, see below:
Social mixers and elevator speeches may be where your mind goes when you think about networking. And, if you’re attending a professional conference or networking opportunity, it never hurts to brush up on the traditional networking tips: bring your business cards and prepare to schmooze by brainstorming engaging questions, perfecting your pitch, and researching registered attendees (Sweeney, 2014). But, there are many ways to connect with others in libraries that fall outside of the conventional wisdom.
The NMRT Online Discussion Forum Committee asked NMRT members to share creative strategies for forming meaningful connections within the LIS community and networking tips for those brand new to libraries (Birkenhauer, 2022). Members shared the value of volunteer work for networking and also suggested the use of social media as an alternative to in-person networking opportunities.
Volunteering your time and participating in committee work is a great way to get started in collaborating with library colleagues across the country and meeting others in the profession outside of your organization.
If you’re unsure where to start when approaching networking at large conferences or other professional events, joining a committee may give you a concrete starting point. “[A]s a committee member I automatically had purpose and a place to be.” (Brickey-Jones, 2022). For example, ALA committees and discussion groups often host meetings at the ALA Annual Conference, which you can join as a member. Violà, a networking opportunity.
Serving on committees relevant to your job duties will help you find professionals in similar positions or with related interests. Keep in mind that some committees lend themselves to networking more than others, depending on factors such as committee size, charge, and regularity and modality of meetings. While some groups may meet exclusively in-person, some committees’ activities take place primarily online, on Zoom, via email, through ALA Connect, and the like.
If a committee is too large to facilitate significant connections, seek subcommittee work. Serving on a smaller subcommittee often allows for the opportunity to get to know a few familiar faces. Additionally, starting small with volunteer work for a regional organization may be a less overwhelming approach to networking, as state and regional groups attract a fraction of the memberships of national and international organizations.
While a variety of social networking platforms offer virtual networking opportunities, Twitter is a favorite for LIS professionals. A 2016 study focused on #medlibs found that Twitter served as a space for medical librarians to network with colleagues (Ford and Tolmie, 2016). A recent article in Medical Reference Services Quarterly presented case reports of health sciences librarians’ use of Twitter, maintaining that use of the social media platform can professionally benefit librarians (Danquah et al., 2022).
If you’re hesitant to jump immediately into online networking, Twitter allows for participation as well as observation. Users can follow others in the field, monitor hashtags like #librarytwitter, participate (or lurk) in Twitter chats like #critlib, and keep an eye on trending topics.
Twitter also allows for the sharing of knowledge gained from professional development opportunities. “I have found that Twitter is particularly valuable for not only networking, but just learning about opportunities […] I’ve learned about two different conferences from just being in the LIS twitter space.” (Zerrenner, 2022). Conferences often assign an official hashtag, which allows users to monitor tweets with that hashtag for conference updates. Conference attendees might tweet about breakout sessions attended, new insights gained, or other conference happenings, opening up the opportunity for Twitter users to interact with their tweets by replying, retweeting or liking.
After the October 2022 acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, many are uncertain about the future of the company (Fung, 2022) and, by extension, the future of Library Twitter. Potential alternatives include Discord, Reddit and Mastodon, a decentralized platform featuring LIS-related servers such as Glammr.us and scholar.social. For those looking to join Mastodon, Twitodon allows users to identify and follow those you’re connected with on Twitter on Mastodon.
Keep in mind that ALA Connect and listservs also function in much the same way as our favorite social media sites, in that they connect people with similar interests. Conversations with others in the LIS community, like those hosted by the NMRT Online Discussion Forum on ALA Connect, are happening online in these spaces. Join the discussion!
While some of the above suggestions relate to conference attendance, neither networking approach necessitates in-person participation, funding, or travel. Are there other accessible approaches to building a network that you’d like to recommend to those new to the field? Leave a reply below.
Ford, C. & Tolmie, D. (2016) Breaking the limits of time and space: How Twitter is helping #medlibs collaborate and communicate. A descriptive study. Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 16(2), 116-131. https://doi.org/10.1080/15323269.2016.1150737
LaVentra, E., Danquah, M. B. B., Lopez, B., Justice, A., Sikora, L., Grooten, T. M., Haygood, L. (2022). Trends in… Adoption of Twitter by health sciences librarians. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 41(4), 397-407.
Would you like to attend this year’s ALA conference, but don’t have the means to do so? Apply for the NMRT Professional Development Grant award by December 28th, 2022.
The award offers $1,000 to one person to offset costs and expenses to attend this year’s Annual Conference in Chicago, IL on June 22-27, 2023. You must be a current ALA and NMRT member to apply. To join, visit the ALA website and follow the “Join ALA” link. To apply, please visit https://www.ala.org/rt/nmrt/initiatives/applyforfunds/applyfunds. Applicants will be notified in February.
For questions, please contact the chair of the NMRT Professional Development Grant Committee, Julie Gabb at email@example.com.
Caroline Akervik, Eau Claire Area School District, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Librarians tend to be an eclectic bunch who enter the field having made forays into others. However, there does tend to be a shared thread in many librarian origin stories. That is, there is generally a person or library that hooked the future librarian on the career path. For me, that person was a school aide who also happened to be a nun. When I was in fourth grade, Sister Dorothy welcomed our class into the library once a week. Once there, she read to us. I remember she read the entirety of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. At that point, I became a reader. Though we moved several times throughout my childhood and I attended schools in different states, I do have fond memories of the libraries of many of those schools, of curling up in a chair or even on the floor and reading a book. I was well and truly hooked. Decades later, I became a school librarian, and I continue to serve as a school district library coordinator.
I asked other librarians to share what inspired them to enter the field. Three unique stories that I received are below. May they inspire and motivate you in our shared craft.
When I was growing up, my mom would take me to the public library once a week. The ladies that worked there always greeted me by name, were friendly, and they loved hearing me talk about my favorite books. When I got to middle school, I became a library helper and found out that I loved spending time in the library helping people. In high school, I joined the library club and became president. I took on a role where I created displays, organized contests, and helped to raise funds for literacy programs. It’s easy to say that libraries were always a part of my life.
I always thought I wanted to be a teacher and work with kids when I grew up. I remember the day my high school librarian told me that I could go to college to be a librarian. I knew that this was my passion and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. If it wasn’t for all the amazing, friendly, and dedicated library staff I spent time within my youth, I would not have gotten into the field. I hope to make an impact someday on one of my students just like the librarians of my childhood did.
Danielle Brannan, Mukwonago High School, Mukwonago, Wisconsin
I’ve always been a reader. I used to read to get out of doing chores. As an undergraduate student, I studied English and Education and planned to eventually become a college English professor who wore cardigans with elbow patches. I worked my way through college at three different bookstores (college is expensive), and I both loved it and was good at it. I had a knack for recommending books to folks.
Eventually, I graduated and needed a job. When no one wanted to hire me as a teacher (because there wasn’t a teaching shortage and I didn’t have any experience), I got a job at a college bookstore in Milwaukee. I told a new coworker my story and he said, “Why aren’t you a school librarian?” That career had honestly never occurred to me before that moment.
I looked into it and discovered I lived minutes away from a stellar library school (UW Milwaukee SOIS). It was fate! I enrolled and as I sat in my first class, I felt like a light was shining down on me because I was where I belonged. Everything about the program felt right. I was destined to become a librarian and now I’ve been working in my dream career for thirteen years, AND I can totally rock a cardigan with elbow patches!
For the last nine years, I was a dual language bilingual teacher in 1st and 4th grade. This last summer we had two librarian positions open in our district, and the LMS from my school encouraged me to think about applying because in a district with 10 bilingual schools, we had no one in the library, LMS or aide, who was bilingual. I chose to become a librarian for my district because it would allow me to impact my entire district by providing opportunities to advocate for the bilingual program, evaluate Spanish resources, and provide library programming in 2 languages. Now, I work in 4 buildings, and I love having students see, for the first time, someone in the library who speaks their language! Most have also never seen a man in the library either.
Our paths to our libraries are different and unique. Our work is rewarding and demanding. And, yet reflecting on the why we entered the field does help one persevere and handle the day-to-day challenges of the library life.
Nominations are now open and close Tuesday, November 15, 2022. The nominating committee will select at least two nominees for each position.
If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else, go to https://divrt.directnominations.net, log in and choose “New Members” (#72). f you are nominating someone else, they’ll be contacted to complete the form.
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: Shirley Olofson Memorial Award!
Are you a NMRT member looking for financial assistance to attend ALA Annual in Chicago, Illinois this year? Apply for the Shirley Olofson Memorial Award!
The Shirley Olofson Memorial Award is presented annually in honor of Shirley Olofson, a well-respected former NMRT President, who died during her term in office. The award, which is intended to help defray costs to attend the ALA Annual Conference, will be presented in the form of a check for $1,000.00 during the 2023 Annual Conference in Chicago, IL. The winner will be notified in February 2023. Apply by December 16, 2022 at https://forms.gle/zCPb7vwcAhaArHDs7.
Be a member of ALA and NMRT
Be active in the library profession
Show promise for activity in the area of professional development
Have a valid financial need
Have attended no more than five ALA annual conferences
Application deadline is Friday, December 16, 2022.
Mark your calendar! Less than 1 week until NMRT President’s Program: Finding Your Way in Library Land. Join us on Saturday, June 25 at 11:00am – 12:00pm in the Washington Convention Center, Rooms 159A-B.