Student Snippets


Conference Thoughts

So, let's talk about conferences. I knew that librarians had conferences before I came to library school. While I worked at an academic library in Virginia, I went to two of them. One was for the state library association, and the other was some kind of interlibrary-loan specific conference. Somehow this did not prepare me for how many library/archives conferences there would be happening in New England. As library students, we get plenty of emails about them and hear a lot about why we should be attending them. Students are even encouraged to submit papers and be presenters.

Conferences are a great opportunity but they are difficult to attend. Most of them are a good distance from your home, necessitate overnight stay, require missing class or work (and in my case, lots of babysitting), and charge registration fees. Simmons and sponsoring organizations make a good effort to mediate these demands by offering professional development reimbursements, travel awards, and scholarships for students. These efforts are nice but they also require some time and work on the part of the student.

I've been dutifully reading all the conference emails, and I finally found one that looked feasible. It was the joint spring meeting of the New England Archivists (NEA) and Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (ART). It was being held in New Haven, CT (only 45 minutes from my house!) and the conference was offering reasonable early-bird and student discounts. Thanks to some encouraging emails from our SLIS West program director, I decided to jump on the opportunity.

The conference was this past weekend, and I attended Friday only. Even though I had some reservations about spending an entire extra day away from the kids and sitting through about six hours of educational programming (and then waking up early on Saturday for a full day of class), I was so glad that I went! I spotted some fellow SLIS West folks as soon as I entered the main room, and I did not feel as out-of-place there as I thought I might. It was really nice to just sit back and soak it all in. It's kind of exciting to be in a huge room of strangers and feel like you're with "your people," because everyone there is speaking the same language (of archives).

All of the sessions and speakers were very interesting to me (except for the one on digital preservation which went right over my head), and I came home charged up with good ideas. Those ideas showed up in my life as early as the next day, when I was using them in class. My favorite session was about archiving the web - what a fascinating project! I got a good introduction to it and got to hear from three different web archivists. I'll definitely be thinking about web archiving and looking out for opportunities as I move forward.

Conferences are great for students because they give you an opportunity to learn more about your field in a way that you might not get in class. They give you a glimpse into what's happening right now and afford wonderful networking opportunities. Conferences are difficult to attend, but totally worth it if you can find one close by or apply for financial assistance. 

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