Sunday, October 27, 2013

New England Library Association Annual Conference

Portland, MEI attended the New England Library Association (NELA) Annual Conference in Portland, ME this year (Oct. 20-22). The conference was attended by approx. 600 people, including people from across New England and from a few other U.S. states. I went in order to participate in a panel session on Tuesday morning and enjoyed the entire conference.

I tweeted the conference and thus don't have a lot of notes; however, there is a conference blog at http://conference.nelib.org/. Handouts or slides, if available, are at http://www.nelaconference.org/. Brian Herzog has also published a recap of the conference.

Rich HarwoodI enjoyed the keynote speaker, Rich Harwood from the Harwood Institute. His presentation about community, and turning outward, built upon what I had heard at the R-Squared Conference last year. At that conference, John McKnight taught us about doing community asset interviews, in order to understand how the library can support the community.  The survey sheet that we used in KcKnight's exercise can be found here, along with the interviewer's prompt card.  (A video of McKnight is below from R-Squared.)  McKnight ties his interviews to the library, while Harwood's focus is solely on the community itself.  He wants us to learn as much as possible about the community, without interjecting how the library might help.  His goal is that we learn, then find the natural connection.  That connection might be something that we do outside of the library or in support of some other group's efforts.

Portland (ME) Public Library Bookmobile
There were several highlights for me over the three days: visiting the Portland Public Library; stepping inside the Library's bookmobile, which was parked outside of the conference on Monday; meeting colleagues from other LIS programs; hearing about an awesome makerspace in New Hampshire; visiting the headquarters of LibraryThing; and making new friends.  I, and five LIS colleagues, spoke on Tuesday morning about LIS education, which is what brought me to NELA.  I now look forward to attending another one in the future!


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