Non-Library Conferences for Librarians

Stephanie Sendaula, INALJ Associate Editor

Non-Library Conferences for Librarians

stephaniesThere are a lot of conference acronyms in our profession: ALA, SLA, SAA, ACRL, PLA, AASL, AALL, etc… But sometimes we’re not able to attend those conferences for a variety of reasons including funding restraints, time constraints, or even the specific location. (Haven’t we all wondered whether to turn conference into a vacation and spend a few additional days exploring the area?) I attend as many conferences as time – and budgets – allow. In the process, I’ve discovered some non-traditional ones that provide educational sessions for all types of information professionals.

Budget: Less than $30.

Location: Varies
Discount for Librarians: No, but many are free of charge.
Make Your Case for Attending: THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) is ideal for academic librarians who specialize in the humanities and librarians responsible for technology and pedagogy. This un-conference (translation: there is no set agenda) allows you to brainstorm collaborative sessions upon arrival. Afterwards, simply attend as many as you like that interest you. I’ve attended two in Philadelphia and enjoyed them both. The best thing about having a user-generated camp is that they are in locations throughout the world. Don’t see one in your area? Start one!

Budget: Less than $200.

New York Comic Con (NYCC)
Location: New York, NY
Discount for Librarians? Yes, Professional pricing.
Make You Case for Attending: Do you handle collection development? Go to stay up-to-date on current trends and titles in graphic novels, comics, science fiction, and fantasy. Do you organize programming? Go to get ideas and inspiration from other public librarians who have incorporated superheroes into children’s and YA events. Be sure to read Leigh’s recap of her NYCC experience last year. Besides New York, there is also an unrelated Comic-Con in San Diego as well as smaller (also unrelated) comic conventions in other cities throughout the country.

BookExpo America (BEA)
Location: New York, NY
Discount for Librarians? Yes, Book Buying Professional Pricing.
Make Your Case for Attending: Do you participate in reader’s advisory? There are plenty of collection development sessions for children’s, YA, and adult literature. You can learn about upcoming trends in fiction and brainstorm ideas for book clubs. Do you get questions about eBooks and eReaders on a regular basis? BEA can help with that too. I attended several sessions last year on eReader usage and the impact of technology on publishing. Sounds relevant? I thought so. Bonus: You’ll get as many Advanced Reading Copies as you would if you attended ALA or PLA.

Budget: Less than $1000.

Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)
Location: Varies
Discount for Librarians? No.
Make Your Case for Attending: Are you passionate about digital collections? Interested in UX or QA? Do you work at a library that is part of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)? Alternately, do you handle government documents? Have you always wanted to learn more about knowledge management? ASIS&T is a great complement for those of you who are already members of SLA and want to learn more about the IN crowd that Naomi mentioned previously. I enjoy ASIS&T simply because it reminds me how translatable our degree really is.

Budget: Less than $1500.

South by Southwest (SXSW)
Location: Austin, TX
Discount for Librarians? No.
Make Your Case for Attending: This über-trendy festival isn’t just about film and music. Once you get past the parties (ahem), there are a number of community-driven panels as part of SXSW Interactive. You can meet with others interested in everything from STEM education and GIS trends to data mining and guerilla marketing. No matter which type of library you work at, you’re probably involved in emerging technologies and a lot of our roles blend librarianship and IT. SXSW can help you stay current and even ahead of the game.

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