Queens Library for Teens

What I Learned at my First New York Library Association Conference

As a fledgling library and information science student I probably had a different experience than many of the other attendees of last week’s New York Library Association (NYLA) conference. Most of the crowd were professional librarians. After spending two full days immersed in the library and information science field, surrounded by librarians, and I had some important realizations.

My Realizations
I wasn’t the only Syracuse University School of Information Studies student at the conference. I was in good company, joined by a lively bunch of more than a dozen curious future librarians. I enjoyed bumping into them, taking the opportunity to debrief after presentations. A few times, when I was torn between going to two concurrent presentations, I worked out a deal with a fellow student. We each attended one of the presentations and traded notes later. Some of the other iSchool students shared my happy realization that much of what we were seeing and hearing in these sessions reiterated and underscored our first semester’s worth of class discussions.

The most popular presentations I attended featured dynamic, forward-thinking presenters. These presentations touched on innovative examples and new ideas that set off ripples of excitement and animated murmuring among the audience. Many times, as those around us were ooh-ing and ah-ing, I found myself looking around the room, making eye contact with fellow iSchool students who, I later confirmed, were thinking the same thing I was: this isn’t news to me–we just talked about this in class! I have to say, by the end of the conference I was more glad than ever that I had chosen librarianship and chosen to attend the program at the iSchool.

This was not the first professional conference I’ve attended, but it was the first conference I’ve been to since I joined Twitter. Tweeting during the conference was a fascinating experience. Following the hashtags #NYLA11 and #SUatNYLA, I felt like I was more in-the-know than some of the other attendees. As I tweeted the most interesting bits of the presentation I was attending, I enjoyed reading the reviews and highlights of the concurrent sessions. Once, I even got up and left the room to join a presentation that looked much more interesting from the tweets coming from that audience. I’m looking forward to consulting my tweets later to remind myself of things I wanted to look up, people I want to follow up with, and interesting links. And, of course, I expanded my tweep network.

I’ll Share My Notes With You
I attended presentations on several great topics, including creating teen spaces, the challenges of collecting oral histories, remaking the library space for the 21st Century community, and bringing music recording and performances into the library. (Make sure you check out what the Queens Library for Teens is doing!) I was inspired, learned some new ideas, and saw some examples of great librarianship in action. Take a look at #NYLA11 and #SUatNYLA for informative tweets by some dedicated librarian types like Jill Hurst-Wahl (@jill_hw), iSchool Assistant Professor of Practice, and current iSchool student Julianne Wise (@WiseLibrarian). You’ll find my notes there, too!

For a couple of my personal NYLA conference highlights, check out Meredith Farkas (meredithfarkas.wetpaint.com) and look at iSchool Alumna Kimberly Bolan-Cullin’s website (www.libraryexperience.com).

Follow Mia Breitkopf on Twitter @MiaBreitkopf. You can reach her via email at mebreitk@syr.edu

Mia Breitkopf

Mia Breitkopf is a graduate student pursuing her Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science at Syracuse University. In 2011, she moved to Syracuse to study after seven years in Philadelphia, PA, where she taught public school and worked at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Mia holds a bachelor's degree in music education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and will graduate with her MLIS in May 2013.

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