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Jul 8 / Christine Illichmann

Being a Conference Intern – Student Mike Curcuruto Shares His Experience

SLIS Student Mike Curcuruto recently participated in the 2017 Great Lakes Resource Sharing Conference as a conference intern. If you’re curious about what a conference intern does or what was covered at GLRSC this post is a must read! 

Blogpost and Photos by Mike Curcuruto 

This past June, I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of three interns for the 2017 Great Lakes Resource Sharing Conference (GLRSC) that took place in Oakbrook, Illinois. The two day conference was well attended by many from Academic, Public, and Special libraries. The conference was developed as a way to support resource sharing endeavors in both public and academic libraries in the Great Lakes region.  The GLRSC has several key goals:

  • To train resource sharing departments throughout the region.
  • To share ideas for collaboration.
  • To share ideas for marketing, streamlining workflows, and staying on top of changes in resource sharing.

While the conference is primarily attended by those in the great lakes region, individuals from outside the region are encouraged to (and do) attend as well.

Prior to the conference, I sat in on several virtual planning meetings with GLRSC committee members. I was very grateful that the committee allowed us to attend these planning sessions, as they gave me a better understanding of the sheer amount of work and prep that goes into planning a successful conference.

Since this was my first professional conference, I was unsure of what to expect. I arrived a day before the conference started and was glad I planned an extra day because it took some of the initial stress of traveling to an unfamiliar city off of me. I was able to explore Oakbrook and got a chance to check out the conference area and hotel. The committee decided that we would meet in the evening to finish up name badges. Many hands made light work and everyone was very welcoming.

My badge. Everyone loved how the program was included right on their badge for easy access!

Day 1:

All of the presentations were held in the same conference room for the first day, so there was little set-up that had to be done. Kristin, a fellow intern, and I put up some signage directing conference attendees where to go and we were asked to post on social-media about what was happening at the conference throughout the day. One of the highlights for me was an update from OCLC about their current resource sharing endeavors and the presentation Enriching Your Wealth of Resources by Marking ILL presented by Adebola Fabiku (Wheaton College) & Laura Tomcik.

Adebola Fabiku (Wheaton College) & Laura Tomcik

Their presentation included creative ways to market interlibrary loan to your library patrons. I was surprised to learn that some libraries even have an ILL mascot.  While many of the presentations primarily focused on academic libraries, much of the information contained in them could easily be translated and applied to a wide-variety of library settings.

After a full day of presentations, it was nice to unwind and mingle with everyone at the reception and play some trivia (LIBRARIANS LOVE TRIVIA!)

Reception & Trivia contest

Day 2:

On the second day I helped get some of the conference rooms set up for presentations (tested microphones, set-up projectors, and laptops). For the rest of the day, my main responsibility was to provide technical assistance for several breakout sessions. This loosely translated into making sure speakers didn’t run over their allotted time and assist with any technology-related problems that may arise. I was fortunate and all my sessions went smoothly without any tech issues.  For the last session, I was asked to introduce the group of presenters. I was nervous, mostly because I didn’t want to mispronounce anyone’s name. While I did stumble over some of the more difficult names, I recovered quickly and managed to get through it.

I also did more social media coverage on my personal twitter and took pictures (the ones you see on this post). I now have major respect for people who can live-tweet because it isn’t easy trying to listen, compose a well-thought out tweet, and post all at the same time.

Some of the highlights of day two for me were:

  • Corey Seeman’s Keynote Address—History Has Its Eyes on You: Lighthouses and Libraries Weathering Storms of Change (link).

“Libraries like lighthouse can help you when you are lost”

His address was informational, inspiring, and entertaining. This year’s conference theme was “Harnessing the Winds of Change” and his address fit the theme beautifully. There are many changes facing libraries everyday—we can either cower away from them or we can face them head on, harness their energy, and thrive.

Corey Seeman giving his keynote address

  • Richard Adler’s presentation: The Michigan Service Hub: Bringing the Great Lakes State to the Digital Public Library of America.

It was great to learn more about the DPLA and the ways in which institutions from Michigan, such as Wayne State University, are contributing and sharing their collections with the world.

  • Jessica Curtis’ presentation: People Can Make the Difference: Staff Roles in Resource Marketing and Education

This was one of the few presentations that addressed public libraries and I was excited that I was able to cover this session since I currently manage a public library. I plan to incorporate some of Jessica’s ideas on how I can easily market resource sharing at my library branch in the near future. Hint: PEOPLE LOVE BOOKMARKS

Jessica Curtis “selling us” on ways to sell ILL to our patrons

Overall, this conference was a lot of fun to work on and attend and I am so thankful for the opportunity I was given. I would recommend anyone who has any interest in the benefits of resource sharing to attend. As library budgets grow smaller, resource sharing can be a great way to reduce our costs and offer more to our library patrons. I learned a great deal about resource sharing in libraries and I would love to attend next year’s conference. This experience was also a great way to get to know fellow LIS professionals and network. I just wish I didn’t wait until my last semester to attend professional conferences and I would encourage current MLIS students to seek out similar opportunities whenever possible. The sooner the better.  Many conferences offer reduced or free attendance to interns/volunteers. As a side note, I became aware of this conference during my practicum at Central Michigan University last fall. I highly recommend a practicum—even if you currently work in a library. It is a great way to gain a different perspective and grow your network.

To view past presentations and learn more about the Great Lakes Resource Sharing Conference visit: http://glrsc.org/