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 chapterâ€™s inauguaral conference, where the SLA President Elect, Jill Strand, gave the keynote. Â 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: Â Why are they so darn high?
My friend Tracy and lamented this line of questioning over Twitter (and some drinks). Â Â 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. Â Â Iâ€™m not looking forward to playing the â€œfind the cheapest flights aroundâ€ game for conference in Chicago during Super Bowl weekend. (Sorry Bears fans – I have to admit I am seriously praying that you donâ€™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. Â Â 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 (Iâ€™m what you call a â€œvendorbrarianâ€) and run the risk of falling out of touch with the peers that accompanied me on my degree and job search journeys. Â Â Sure, I lose some vacation days and donâ€™t get reimbursement from my job for going to conference, but what I get out of what we have started to call â€œlibrarian summer campâ€ outweighs those extra credit card charges.
And networking can happen in the most unlikely of places. Â 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. Â Â 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. Â Â 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!