15 Days to OLA

by Lauren Bourdages, Head Editor, INALJ Ontario

15 Days to OLA 

laurenbourdagesIn the summer I applied to be part of the askON Text Reference Pilot project because I wanted to get some direct experience in providing reference services. For those of you who aren’t familiar with askON, 28 public and college libraries in the Province of Ontario have partnered with the Ask Ontario Task Force to provide easy top access, chat reference services. In September they started a text message reference service to run alongside their chat service so I signed on as an unpaid Intern to do two shifts a week. About 4 weeks in I got offered a third shift and accepted it. Then the askON Project Manager asked for two volunteers to put together a Poster Session about the pilot project for the OLA Super Conference in January, 2014. The OLA Super Conference is Canada’s biggest library industry conference; I volunteered almost immediately. Along with one other Text Reference Intern I crafted a proposal and submitted it, and last week we found out our proposal was accepted. So now I’m prepping for my first ever industry conference, my first conference and I’m going as a presenter. It goes without saying that I am a giant bundle of nerve and excitement and I am counting down the days as I work on the poster with my partner.


I know there are a few things that I need to get ready (aside from my poster obviously!).
I’m going to need 5 things:

1. Business cards

2. An elevator pitch/personal value statement

3. A presentable, comfortable outfit

4. To spend some time reviewing conference tip articles, especially all the fantastic tips in INALJ’s Conference articles

5. A direction for what I want to get out of the conference

Right now I’m focusing on that last one. As I prepare to register (there’s still two days left in the early bird registration phase) I’ve been trying to decide what sessions I want to go to. I’m only going for one day, and part of that day is going to be devoted to setting up and presenting my Poster Session (I’ll be presenting from 12:00-1:00 on Thursday, so if you’re going to be there stop by and say hi!), so I have to be strategic about what sessions I go to. I figured that I have two options

1. Go to sessions that are going to expand on topics I already know about/already have experience with

2. Go to sessions that are going to expose me to new things that I’ve found myself interested in getting experience with

I’ve decided to go with option number 2; I am going to use the conference to explore an area of interest that has been more and more on my mind lately. I figure using the conference sessions for that purpose is a good way to not only expose me to the current trends in the topic, but if I can get past my extreme introversion and social anxiety it’ll also be a great way to meet people who are on the path I’m interested in getting on. I could easily decide to go to the sessions relating to school libraries and learning commons’ which has always been my main area of focus/expertise, but lately I’ve been really drawn to something completely new and different for me; usability and accessibility.

I started coding HTML in high school and I’ve dabbled on and off with HTML and CSS ever since. I had been wanting to go into programming, but Calculus and I didn’t get along in high school so my marks weren’t good enough. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that lately and I want to explore it because it is something I’ve always enjoyed. I know from my work with INALJ that library and information education can and has been a gateway to my newly desired career path so I know it can be done. I believe that using the conference as a means of exploration is the best way to get started.

That being said if any of you reading this would like to weigh in with thoughts or tips on this matter I’m all ears!


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.