So, I went to ALA, again. My first ALA was Midwinter, in Boston, which I attended because it was drive-able (and I got to stay at the Four Seasons at conference registration rates). I presented at New Orleans, and went to Anaheim to present and attend various trainings and workshops, then went to Chicago because that’s home, and I went this year to participate in some panel discussions and also to accept the 2014 HARRASSOWITZ Leadership in Library Acquisitions Award. At each of those, I attended sessions, as well, and had a chance to hear speakers I wouldn’t otherwise have access to. (The problem this year was that the conference was in Las Vegas. Envision 15,000 librarians at a conference, spanning hotels and conference facilities. Now imagine that those hotels are Vegas casinos, full of Vegas casino denizens. And 15,000 librarians. It was as surreal as you would expect. It was also 112 degrees. WTF.)
Complaints about Vegas aside, ALA does one thing really well: It brings together huge numbers of libraryfolk, and makes it very easy to network with just about anyone under the sun. But it’s huge. I always leave feeling like I got information and access I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else… but that I didn’t get everything I would have hoped for. This week I’ve seen four different things that made me think about the value of smaller venues for professional development.
This week is the registration deadline for LILAC, the Library Instruction Leadership Academy. Now, everyone I know who’s attended says that ACRL Immersion is the way to go for InfoLit professional development, but if you can’t afford that, and you’re regional to New York… here’s an option.
I saw a plug for the Great Lakes E-summit on the NASIG list, and sent it on to our Collection Development Coordinator. The program looks like just the kind thing that would feed into our current conversations about collection building in really useful ways — those are exactly the issues on our plate right now.
A former SUNY librarian who has since moved on emailed me about the Access Services Conference in Atlanta, and, again, it’s the kind of targeted program that is likely to be deeply helpful to an institution with just those issues on its plate.
And then the Past Chair of the SUNY Council of Library Directors emailed me suggesting that we look into hosting the ACRL Standards for Libraries workshop for SUNY, at nearly the same time that the Vice-Chair and I were discussing the possibility of the organization hosting a one-day assessment conference.
The ALA annual conference is a thing. It’s a good thing, and it does some things that smaller conferences cannot do… but it’s not the only game in town, by a long shot. There are more games than many of us realize, frankly.
So tell me and anyone who’s reading: what are your favorite small/targeted/regional professional development and conference-type things?