ALA-2013: A Rite of Passage
This year I was officially initiated into the realm of librarianship…hazing not included. The process involved attending the American Library Association’s Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois. This event marked my first encounter as a conferencee and exhibitor, and whoa what an experience. The event was chock full of librarians, archivists, consultants of various types, publishers, vendors and all of the mythical creatures that comprise the information empire. Did I forget to mention that I made a few new friends as well? That’s right; I had the opportunity to connect with potential students by discussing the SLIS program, my personal experiences and the endless list of available and potential careers. One of the most exciting aspects of the conference was speaking with WSU alumni who have graduated from our program. The encouragement from these alumni was endless and provided me with the chance to meet real-life working LIS professionals. So for all of you that are concerned about whether or not jobs in the LIS field actually exist….yes they do….the key is making yourself visible and standing out amidst the sea of prospects.
To make matters more interesting I was able to participate in my very first poster presentation where I talked about my position as a GSA and some of the accomplishments of the previous GSA, Crystal JolIy. Slightly hidden in the back of the special events arena we did not receive as many visitors as anticipated but plenty of people did stop by. I had the opportunity to address questions about my position as well as the state of minorities or lack thereof within the LIS profession. I met so many wonderful people and exchanged plenty of ideas and though my audience was not vast, the connections I made and the knowledge I gained was priceless.
Last but not least in addition to making new connections I was able to peruse the conference grounds and visit some of the other exhibits. The experience was slightly overwhelming because there were thousands of attendees and over 693 exhibitors of varying types including ALISE, BiblioCommons, Inc., EBSCO Information Services, Federal Trade Commission, H.W. Wilson, the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS), the Library of Congress, the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation, National Geographic, OCLC, Reference USA, and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) just to mention a few. Of course I could not visit all of the exhibits but I did get a chance to speak with a few vendors from the Library of Congress, Family Search, Digital Transitions, and Galaxy Press. Here I got the chance to see what these vendors had to offer how the representatives obtained their positions. Each had different stories to tell but all were nonetheless interesting and encouraging.