Guest Post: NMRT Leadership Director Kate Kosturski

Initially a Debit, but Forever a Credit

Kate Kosturski, NMRT’s Leadership Director, shares why she’s willing to spend what can seem to be a staggering amount to go to conferences and build her professional development. It turns out there are credits to be earned by attending “library summer camp”!

In September, I had the privilege of attending the Special Libraries Association, New York City chapter’s inauguaral conference, where the SLA President Elect, Jill Strand, gave the keynote.  As it seems to pass whenever you have an association president in the room, questions about dues and conference fees came up – really, just one question:  Why are they so darn high?

My friend Tracy and lamented this line of questioning over Twitter (and some drinks).   No one will argue conferences are expensive – my bundled registration for ALA Midwinter and Annual was $400, and I am not looking forward to having to find hotels in San Francisco next summer for conference that seems to be held right in the middle of Pride Week and a homestead for the current World Series champs.   I’m not looking forward to playing the “find the cheapest flights around” game for conference in Chicago during Super Bowl weekend. (Sorry Bears fans – I have to admit I am seriously praying that you don’t go to Tempe for the big game this season!)

At the same time, while these are temporary debits, and I may have to put off getting the new TV or (even worse) figure out how to juggle rent, car insurance, and food with a conference bill that can go into four figures, I have to remind myself that they are actually credits in my professional development account.   Spending a few days at McCormick Place or the Moscone Center reconnecting with my fellow librarians and learning a few new things is worth the money I may have to give up – especially as I do not work in a library (I’m what you call a “vendorbrarian”) and run the risk of falling out of touch with the peers that accompanied me on my degree and job search journeys.   Sure, I lose some vacation days and don’t get reimbursement from my job for going to conference, but what I get out of what we have started to call “librarian summer camp” outweighs those extra credit card charges.

And networking can happen in the most unlikely of places.  Last year, while en route to a party on the Las Vegas Monorail (and unfortunately starting to feel the effects of that supposed dry heat), I struck up a conversation with a fellow librarian from my home state of Connecticut – who just happened to work in Westport, the next town over from my home in Norwalk – and she mentioned that there were openings.   We exchanged cards, and while nothing did come of that posting, I would have never known about it had I decided Las Vegas was just too expensive and I was sitting Annual 2014 out.

We are getting close to Midwinter 2015, and housing for Annual 2015 will open up shortly after the New Year.   While those bills will be painful, I encourage you to look past the short term ouch and towards the long term benefits of being at conference.

See you in Chicago!

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