I missed my Saturday morning group long run today; my throat is still sore and I still have a cough lingering from this week’s exertions at the Wisconsin Library Association annual conference. It was very interesting to compare this type of professional conference to my previous experiences with music-related conferences. Much less yelling and arguing at panel discussions, for one thing. Also, musicians seem to take themselves much, much more seriously than librarians do; I cannot fathom the Mid-American Center for Contemporary Music sponsoring a disco-themed fundraiser, complete with costume contest. (No, I did not costume myself. Frankly, I was so exhausted by that point that I was digging at the bottom of my reserves to stand on the sidelines, clapping and laughing, for an hour before retreating to my room and bed.)
My head, she is stuffed to the brim with new ideas; I feel completely jazzed and fired up to go out and get started. So much motivation! So many brilliant speakers with inspirational and implementable models! And yet wait I must, with three more semesters to go before I can actually get fully into the trenches and get my hands dirty. That’s jaw-grindingly frustrating, of course. On the other hand, I bustled all over the place meeting new folks and making new contacts and network connections, handing out my business cards like candy, and maybe that will bear fruit in the end. At the least, perhaps it will help establish a support network for me when I do find my place, so that I’ll have professional friends for advice and support when I need it. Some of those connections I made were pretty far away, geographically, for practical consideration in terms of finding positions; I don’t have the same flexibility that some of my (younger, childless, more single) classmates do. These were some wonderful people, though, and mentoring knows no map boundaries these days. And who knows what the future will hold?
There were so very many themes for the weekend, and since there was a lot of freedom in terms of deciding which sessions to attend, I was able to tailor my week toward what I felt would most benefit the long game – mostly the sessions dealing with advocacy, leadership, and collaborations. The further I get into this MLIS program, the more strongly I’m feeling the pull toward those areas, particularly the idea of fostering and promoting collaborations between community groups to benefit the entire community. And believe me, this conference offered plenty of information both validating that idea and informing me about how to go about achieving it. By far, the best part of my week was the pre-conference long session, Lead the Change. I think I may have been the only student in the room, which was stunning to me; how could a student not jump on the opportunity to participate in this? Six hours of intensive and participatory discussion of how to resituate, reframe, and rethink the library as a key player in the community! I left there so energized, I was practically dancing.
And now it’s back to the grindstone. I knew it was a time sacrifice to attend the whole week of the conference, instead of the single day that most of my classmates chose to do, but I felt it was a worthwhile sacrifice to make. It was, but that doesn’t help with the backlog of work through which I now need to power myself for the next few weeks. I have a short paper due Monday, a slightly longer paper due Wednesday, some sort of exercise also due Wednesday that…was that even discussed in class? I don’t even know what we’re supposed to do. That class was cancelled this week, as the professor was also at the conference that day, so I know I didn’t miss any explanations. Email sent! And I have some interviews for a case study to do Monday afternoon, and I also have to fill out an application for some field work that I need to give to the person I’m interviewing, and I need to send out some more emails for some more case study interviews — oh, this cough is going to need to go away soon, so that I can get through all this!