01 September 2004

Springtime in Library Land: See the World. Become a Librarian

by Virginia Sanchez

I spent so many hours and miles of Spring 2004 on airplanes in the course of attending library conferences - four conferences in six months - that I thought I'd share some of my experiences. All of this travel added an interesting dynamic to completing the 12 units if coursework I was enrolled in, but I survived and came away with increased enthusiasm to be a Traveling Librarian Extraordinaire!

Attending conferences is a great way to meet people from all over and expand your professional and social network, as well as to visit interesting places. I dragged my feet for the longest time over working the �networking� angle, as it seemed so Machiavellian, so I would just go to the various seminars and then go sight-seeing by myself. After a while, however, I realized that just in the course of sharing a table, a taxi or sitting next to someone during a seminar, I was doing all I needed to do to network: have fun and talk to people. We all have more in common than we often think, and a simple joke about librarian stereotypes, or how this particular workshop is far too early in the morning after that very fun reception the night before, can get the conversation ball rolling.

In January 2004, I attended the Joint Meeting of the Northern California and Nevada Medical Group ( NCNMLG ), the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona ( MLGSCA ), and the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association ( PNC/MLA ), which was held in Sacramento, California. Several of the librarians from the Arizona Health Sciences Library attended, and I was introduced to medical librarians from all over the country.

Susan Trombly, Collection Services Librarian; Mary Riordan, Information Services; Hannah Fisher, Information Services, Jeanette McCray, Deputy Director; Gary Frieburger, Director, Michelle Ochillo, National Library of Medicine Fellow.

It wasn't all seminars at the Sacramento Conference. We were walking distance from Old Sacramento and attended a Mystery Dinner Theater on the Delta King . Michelle Ochillo, who is a National Library of Medicine (NLM) Fellow and a graduate of Louisiana State University 's School of Library and Information Science, had a wonderful time touring the California State Capitol building. Unfortunately, �The Governator� was elsewhere, but she did make the acquaintance of a very friendly California Highway Patrolman.

Michelle Ochillo in the Senate Chambers and outside �The Governator's� Office

In April 2004, I attended the Annual Substance Abuse Librarians & Information Specialists Conference in Berkeley , California. This was held at the gorgeous Berkeley City Club , and was walking distance from all that famous �Berzerkely� action! I had great fun visiting with Jessica Hinkson, a kindred spirit and librarian for The Center for College Health and Safety .

Jessica Hinkson

In May 2004, I attended Annual Medical Library Association Conference in Washington , D.C. I had an opportunity to meet librarians from the National Library of Medicine , but also experience that phenomenon that happens only every 17 years: Cicadas . These where winging in larger and larger numbers every day, and created quite a bit of comedic dance steps by the squeamish venturing outside!

Washington , D.C. is a fascinating town. I rode the public buses and the Metro, strolled DuPont Circle and met a friend for dinner that I had bonded with at another conference, the irrepressible Liz Foster, Librarian for the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information .

In June 2004, I attended the Annual American Library Association Conference in Orlando , Florida . This Mega-Conference was rumored to have drawn 20,000 librarians. The Exhibitor's Hall alone was immense, and the technology of the booths ranged from a table and chair with a few flyers, to multi-decked stages with strobe lights and walls of television monitors. The conference agenda was packed with activities, seminars and discussion groups, which meant there was a very real chance that you would not see your room mate all day unless you deliberately planned to stick together. The SIRLS student contingent made very good use of our cell phones and most of managed to find each other at the Spectrum Scholarship Bash held at Universal Studies. I was able to participate in Cynthia Wilson's � I am a Librarian � project, which she says intends to show, �pride in our profession and send a positive image will help the world to realize that the stereotype is not true of all librarians. It will also help encourage more people to join the profession.�

If given the opportunity to attend a professional conference, go! I advise wearing comfortable shoes, and keeping the name and telephone number of your hotel on your person at all times, but beyond that go with open eyes, ears and mind, and meet your colleagues. You will find that you have far more in common with that librarian from North Dakota or Louisiana than you ever dreamed, and may make a friend and ally for life.

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