Should You Go to That (Non-Library) Conference?

by Kate Kosturski, Head Editor, INALJ New York State

Should You Go to That (Non-Library) Conference?

527926_759573701450_305419315_nMy fellow INALJ editor Sarah Dixon talked about attending the ALA conference in her latest blog post – and hers is not the first I have seen, so conference season is upon us. But, conferences are expensive, and a non-library conference may be a great way to get out of the echo chamber and learn something new about your profession.  I make a point to attend ALA regularly, and have done so since 2010, but I also supplement my attendance there with some other non-library conferences that have interesting programs, and (in some cases) are less expensive than ALA.

(N.B. – you’ll notice that several of my suggestions are all New York City-centric, and that’s due to my residence in the metro area.   There are other wonderful conferences throughout the country that fit this bill, so please feel free to share in the comments.)

New York Comic-Con   

Did you know that librarians can go to New York Comic-Con at a professional rate of $25 (that is not a typo), and for free on the professional day that takes place the Thursday before con weekend?  (If you’re interested, more information and the pass application is available here.)  While the pro day is great, the applicable panels are not just limited to that one day.  At the 2012 NYCC, I attended several panels on intellectual freedom presented by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and an overview of digital comics platform comiXology – topics many a librarian will face in their day to day work.   The American Library Association also sponsors a booth at NYCC, and liveblogs all weekend (full disclosure: the 2012 NYCC blogger was me).

(Folks based in the Chicago area can also obtain professional benefits from attending C2E2, including pro registration and a professional day.  Information on C2E2 2014 will be available in the fall of 2013.)

Drupal Camp/Drupal Con

Librarians with interests in technology and web design may find tech conferences more to their liking.   As a very new Drupal developer, I love to follow DrupalCons (the US DrupalCon is taking place as I write this in Portland, Oregon) and attended Drupal Camp CT last summer.  Meeting non-librarians in this context allowed me to deepen my personal and professional network and learn new skills that can be transferred to the library context.  As libraries change, and job descriptions change, laying groundwork for these outward collaborations is so important.

Finally, you’d be surprised where you meet librarians sometimes.   I just returned from the Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey, where I was accosted by several librarians for some love when they saw my JSTOR tote bag.  We really are everywhere. 🙂

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