I went to my first professional librarians’ conference last week; the Urban Librarians Conference, at Central Brooklyn Library. It was such a great experience; I met some fellow librarians, sat in on some panels that sparked a lot of ideas, and enjoyed wandering around the gorgeous library.
Check-in was a breeze, and you have to love a conference that gives you Laffy Taffy in your goodie bag. And a yo-yo. Which my toddler commandeered as soon as I got home, but hey – I got a couple of yo-yo rotations in, at least.
I’m always that person that feels like hugging the wall at networking events, but everyone here was so amazing. I got to chat up the publishers, Melville House and Penguin Random House, that tabled the event, and check out some books for my YA readers. As for the other publishers out there, where were you? Come on, I worked in publishing for 15 years, you all have library marketing departments, and you’ve all got some kind of New York presence. You need to come out to this! We can’t all make it to PLA or ALA, after all; this is a great chance to really speak to librarians; a much smaller, more personal setting, without the frenetics of Book Expo or the bigger library conferences.
The keynote speaker, Lancelot Chase, from StartUp Box, talked about how his organization works to get people in the South Bronx working in the QA (Quality Assurance) sector of the gaming industry. People game for a living, and make a decent wage to do it. StartUp Box works to bring their community together through gaming, too, holding gaming competitions in conjunction with the local police precinct. He was inspirational, and I’m pretty sure the librarians are fighting over who gets to invite him to talk to our patrons first (ahem. Get in line.)
I loved the TeacherLab session, led by Amy Mikel from Brooklyn Public Library. I’ve been trying to reach out to the local schools and get in touch with the parent coordinators, to make the parents and children more aware of what we have to offer them here at Pomonok, but TeacherLab is a professional development session for teachers that will bring them into the libraries and show them what we can offer them in terms of resources and collection. I love this idea, and hope to get one up and running by the end of the summer. Fingers crossed!
I also enjoyed Eric Neuman’s session on working with digital natives – that would be kids these days – and the digital divide, which encompasses more than not having the access to technology (although that’s a huge part of the problem). For these kids, technology is ubiquitous – it’s always there, it’s always been there- so they never had to learn how to use it like we digital immigrants did/do. They need us to help them navigate the whys and wherefores of research and technology, and they need the access to technology in order to sharpen these skills. He also included a gratuitous cat slide in his presentation, so – bonus.
I’d love to see this conference stay small and personal, but have more exhibitors take advantage of this opportunity. And I’d like to see some children’s publishing featured here. I’m not the only children’s librarian that went to ULU2015, and I’d have liked the chance to talk about the state of children’s publishing and educational publishing and media. I’ll be going to BookExpo this year, but again – it’s huge, it’s frenetic in pace, and there’s bound to be lost opportunities on both my side and the publisher side. Who knows, maybe I’ll make that a goal for 2016- help get some children’s publishing exhibitors at ULU2016.
I came away from the day with a notepad full of exclamation points and scribbled thoughts, and a real feeling of excitement at having been part of this day. I can’t wait to some plans into action.