by Scottie Kapel, Head Editor, INALJ Oregon
I’m writing this from a table at the back of the exhibitors hall at the AASL 16th National Conference in Hartford, CT. This is my first conference, and so far the experience has been very rewarding, in terms of both stimulating sessions and generous swag. Thanks to the conference tips and tricks found in the posts of my co-editors Nena Schvaneveldt, Courtney Baron, and Adrith Bicchieri, to name a few, I came to the conference with a decent plan of attack, a hefty stack of business cards, and comfortable shoes. As an added bonus, this conference provided me with the opportunity to put my love for planning to good use as I organized my schedule (and back up schedule). Because I’m in the thick of the conference, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to really reflect on what I’ve learned, but even without this reflection, there is something that I’ve noticed that I didn’t quite anticipate.
As I already mentioned, this conference has been hugely beneficial, which I expected, but what I didn’t expect was the intimidation I would feel being in the same room with so many wonderful and experienced school librarians. I don’t know if this is simply because I’m still a newbie in the field or because the field I’ve entered (school librarianship) is a far cry from the field in which I specialized (archives & preservation). I feel like a bit of an impostor amongst this group of seasoned vets, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know that this insecurity will drive me to study harder, talk to colleagues more frequently, and constantly work on areas where I think I need improvement. Because I wasn’t trained in this form of instruction, I’m really hoping to gain some wisdom from my fellow school librarians while I’m here so that when I attend the next national conference in two years, I will feel more confident in my abilities and contributions to both my students as well as the profession. Even with just a few sessions under my belt so far, I’ve already got so many ideas that I’m excited to take back to my school to share with teachers and students. I know a lot of us have found ourselves in positions that differ from what we studied in school. For those who have, did you also struggle with the feeling that you floundered your way through your first few months? What tip or piece of advice has most helped you establish yourself in your adopted field?