Student Programming at Conferences
25/03/2011 § 11 Comments
UPDATE: We caught the attention of ALA with this one and Jenny Levine AKA The Shifted Librarian posted the following comment – we encourage everyone to submit ideas and participate in the Civics Class.
Hackers, great post. I’d like to encourage you to submit programs for the 2011 Annual Virtual Conference – there’s still time.
Also, are you planning to play along with ALA Civics Class this spring? Please say yes. I could use your feedback on the syllabus.
As future LIS professionals, we’re expected to attend conferences both to network and to become more familiar with our interest areas. It’s a good idea, but with most conference programming focused on those already working full-time, it can feel like our voices are getting lost. I’m writing this post to share some ideas that I have for student programming at conferences as ALA creeps ever closer. This post is also being published on the day that our student body at SLIS is hosting our first student-focused conference (more on that later!) More importantly, I want to hear from you: what is it that you look for in a conference that makes or breaks your decision to attend? What programming would help you develop as a professional, or help you explore new areas as a student?
The idea for this post came from ALA Think Tank, when Jenny Levine asked for programming suggestions for ALA’s annual virtual conference. I said I would like to see more student programming, but after posting it I realized I wanted to be more specific. What is ‘student programming,’ exactly? Obviously we can benefit greatly from a lot of the programming that is keeping people out in the field informed, but as students, we are also in a different place. Here are some of the things I’m thinking that either already exist or that I’d like to see:
- Job hunting/PhD prep: it’s on all of our minds! ALA has some great options already (office for diversity–double check–hosts a PhD fair where you can meet folks from different programs) that I loved last year. Look up job hunting stuff. Helpful to have something focused on new job seekers fresh out of school (ie how not to get lost in the crowd).
- Networking: conferences are a plethora of networking opportunities already. Some departments also host get togethers for attending members and alumni to network, as do some divisions/roundtables/etc. A student-specific gathering would be a great way to share advice with others in the same place to talk about student life–a IRL version of HLS!
- Student research panels/posters: what are we doing in our classes? how about our jobs/internships? Finding ways to build on and apply this work to boosting your resume and getting some publication and presentation experience is a good thing. At our conference, presenters and posters get feedback forms from the audience to help them see how their work was received.
- Mentoring: As we’ve mentioned here before, having real-world experience is key, and a mentor can be someone who can help show you the ropes as you learn more about the field and your place in it. The downside? Mentoring can be hit or miss (see some of the commentary included in Micah’s post coming later today) and doesn’t always give you the experience you hoped for. I wonder if ALA’s various divisions, roundtables, etc. might be more inclined to offer mentoring opportunities if there was a clearly understood ‘contract’ for what both parties wanted. For example, something as simple as having potential mentors and students interested in mentoring each fill out a form. For mentors, this could be something outlining their areas of expertise and what activities or events they are interested in sharing with a student, while students could say what they want to learn about/see/do and what areas of librarianship they are most interested in.
Also, the HLS crew has been talking about having a get-together or going as a group to certain events during ALA Annual. Readers–what do YOU want from this? Formal/informal, a certain type of venue, etc. Let us know!