Note to self….Be SURE to attend the 2009 AASL Charlotte, NC. It’s hard to measure the growth professionally, but there has to be a Dewey number for the experience of being a part of a national conference. Perhaps a 001.94 for “Mysteries”…..or, 978 for “Westward Expansion”…..or even 370.1 for “Education”, par excellence. Without a doubt, attending a national conference is in a class all by itself.
We ate well, but we connected even better. For instance, I attended a breakfast to honor the new AASL president, Sara Kelly Johns. At my table were school librarians from
Connecting with vendors and viewing new products makes national conferences exciting and profitable. In an earlier post, I mentioned that I learned of the “core collection” for graphic novels from H.W. Wilson. Or, how about the development that Gale is going Google. Yes, they are now putting some of their database content out for the web crawlers. The whole idea is that they want to compete with the Wikipedia phenomenon and go to where the researchers are – on Google. The “catch” is that in order to read more of the Gale content, researchers will need to login to their database account. I guess that I will need to re-think my teaching that databases are part of the “Invisible Web”. Being on the cutting edge of our profession is both exciting and important for a quickly-evolving field.
Vendors are anxious to connect with us, too. The national conference is a chance to try ideas out on us and get our opinions. For filling out a survey on proposed publications for ABC-CLIO, they gave me a terrific reference book. One of the sponsors of the special vendor hall activity, NetTrekker, sent me a trial subscription. I had never used the product, but I tried it this week for a World War I project. The teacher and students were "wowed". For attending a focus group for the Gale/Cengage company, they treated me to a “working lunch” and then dinner at a restaurant.
I was quite surprised when the organizer for the Gale focus group explained that she was excited that I accepted the invitation to attend the session. It turns out that my school is among the “biggest users” of the Gale databases in the country. Who knew? The Gale project managers were listening and taking notes when I explained how I get my students to use the databases for their projects. I was impressed at how much vendors value the comments of all school librarians and how important our feedback is for their product development.
It goes without saying that MSLA has benefited from its connections to the national level. Our state conference has incorporated many ideas from the national conferences. Also, the speakers we have brought to Massachusetts are often "great finds" from the AASL and ALA conferences.
At a national conference, we’re one of many instead of being the only one in our building. There is comfort in numbers and strength in joining forces. Circle