I’m about 30 minutes away from logging into the opening keynote speaker for the Maryland/Delaware Library Conference. I have attended MLA/DLA for years. I have been on the conference planning committee multiple times. I have been on the MLA executive board. I am as involved as I can be in the association.
I love going to conference. It’s a nice break from my routine. In normal years I get to get paid to stay in a nice hotel, eat good food and drink with librarians. Oh, yeah. There is learning as well. It’s something I look forward to all year. I’m not the most social of people, but it is nice to see my library friends, go to pub quiz, etc.
This year I am getting ready to attend from my couch. There is no trip to a nice hotel. There is no break in my routine. I still went in to the branch this morning. There will be no hanging out with library friends. There will be pub quiz, but I will be playing from my couch. It’s a virtual world these days and I’m really tired of it.
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I’ve gone into DC the past five days for the American Library Association Conference. Today, I head back to the real world. Before the real world, I thought I would add a few more thoughts about my time in DC.
I’m going to miss going to the city every day. I’ve lived and worked in the suburbs for the past 24 years. My wife has gone into the city every day for the past 24 years. I would happily trade places with her. I loved taking the train to the city and having a nice 20-minute walk through DC to go to work. I loved having a city with multiple lunch options outside my door. My normal work life has Wendy’s and a grocery store as the only close options if I don’t want to pack a lunch. I loved jumping on the Metro to go to a baseball game after work on Saturday. I know working in the city is out as an option at this point, but I really need to make an effort to head down more on my days off. I hate that I live so close and never go, but it’s hard to convince my wife to go back after she’s been there for work all week. She’s happy to stay in the burbs.
Larger crowds still annoy me. I don’t understand how people think it is a good idea to just stop walking in the middle of the crowded hall(or on a crowded sidewalk). I don’t get groups of people deciding these areas are the best places to stop and chat with friends. I don’t get the people who go to an author talk and then talk loudly with their friends. If you have no interest in actually hearing the author speak and would rather chat with your friends, go have coffee somewhere. Generally, I don’t understand why people don’t care how their actions affect others. This isn’t necessarily a crowd only thing. Unfortunately, that attitude is something I deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes I wish I could be someone who can do what I want without considering how it affects someone else.
I was much better this time at schmoozing with people in the exhibits. One publisher has promised to send me books for my branch(and one to me personally). I spoke to another company about partnering on a training we are doing at the state level. I stopped by the booth of a company we do business with to tell them how much I like their service. I talked to CIA recruiters. I stopped by the state library association booth to say hello to the people volunteering their time. It was like Bizarro Tater went to the exhibits in my place.
It was a good five days, but now I go back to my suburban life and Bizarro Tater goes dormant again. Maybe I can convince admin that I should go to PLA in Nashville in the spring.
I have a few minutes before I head off to the ALA closing session so I thought I would write a little about why I haven’t posted since Friday(missing my usual What’s Good post).
I’ve been attending the American Library Association Conference in DC since Friday. The conference opened with Jason Reynolds
and then the exhibits opened. The exhibit area is full of publishers and other companies who do business with libraries. There is a ton of free stuff, including ARCs of upcoming books. I could spend the entire conference in the exhibit area and be happy, but there are also a lot of good programs about library services to attend.
Saturday I focused on the learning part of the conference and skipped the one speaker, Hoda Kotb, that I wanted to see because I couldn’t figure out another time to eat lunch. I went the wrong direction looking for food and ended up eating at Bolt Burger because it was the first place I found. Had I headed the other direction I would have found plenty of options. I then met my son for dinner and the rest of the family met us and we went to the Braves/Nationals game.
Sunday I went to more classes, but also went to the talk with Frank Miller in the ballroom. I found out when I got there that he would be signing books after. I always bail on the author talks when the Q & A starts because the people asking questions annoy me, so when we got to that point I went out and got in line for the signing. I was near the front and got the book signed pretty quick. I thought meeting him would be the highlight of the conference. My afternoon session was a dud, so I left and went back to the exhibits. I had heard that Henry Winkler was at the conference, but not that he was signing. While in the exhibits, i saw people lined up to see him, so I got in line and this happened
Yesterday, I went to a few more classes and also heard George Takei and Tomi Adeyemi speak. I also finally got to eat lunch at Busboys and Poets(it was packed on Sunday when I tried to go).
Today I go to the closing session with Mo Rocca and then I have tickets to see my favorite band tonight.
It has been a good weekend, but I’m exhausted.
Last week I wrote about being awkward and attending conference. I am now back from the conference and thought I would report back on how I did with the social aspect.
When I arrived at the conference and headed into the keynote speaker, I hovered a bit while talking to someone I knew while waiting to see who was arriving and where they were sitting. I use the same strategy when I attend our all day staff development day for work. It’s always a mistake to sit and just go with the luck of the draw with who sits next to you. I can be a disaster. I did resist the impulse to go sit with the people from my library system, but it didn’t matter as I didn’t really talk to the handful of people who sat at my table. After the keynote, I attended the welcome reception. I found my friend from my branch and mostly talked to her and her husband, but I did venture over to talk to the conference chair who I know from working on the committee in the past. I did not succeed in mingling more than that.
The next morning I was up early to work the registration table. It gives me the opportunity to see everyone as they check in, but not an opportunity to really talk to people. I did have a short conversation with a couple of the people working with me and found a new coffee place to try while in town. Most of the rest of the day was spent in sessions and didn’t leave a lot of time to talk to people. I did chat with someone I know from previous conferences while in line at the bar and someone I have talked to via email about a project I’m working on. My pub quiz team was full of people I already knew.
Not much to say about the last day. Someone I worked with on a statewide committee years ago happened to sit at my table at the closing keynote and we said hello. That was about it.
I didn’t talk to anyone who could have any impact on my career. There were several CEO’s there, but never the opportunity to say more than hello as we walked past each other. I did better about talking to people I met before but didn’t really make an effort to meet new people. I have an even bigger challenge with this next month when I go to a national conference in DC. It will be harder to only talk to people with whom I already have a connection. It’s either reach out or stay quiet.
I was a few sentences in to a post this morning about feeling residual anxiety from a dream last night and how that is rare for me. I was already struggling to get the wording the way I wanted when there was a knock at the door. As I mentioned earlier in Destruction Day, are master bath is being renovated. The knock at the door was the person who is doing the renovation ready to start the day. I am not going to attempt to restart the interrupted post(It wasn’t that great anyway) so instead I will just post some stray observations from my conference I attended last week:
I was spoiled that last two years at conference with multiple people from my system attending. I didn’t have to worry about eating alone or trying to join a random pub quiz team. This year went back to the old ways of me being one of only two non-admin employees at the conference. I did go to dinner once with people from work, but I had more times when I was eating alone. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about pub quiz. Two people from work showed up(including our new CEO) and I found people I played with last year.
I always struggle with mingling and networking at conferences. I’m really bad at it and, if given a choice, will eat alone if no friends are there and spend time alone in my room. This year, I made an attempt to spend more time actually talking to people instead. I’m not sure if those people appreciated me talking to them, but I feel good about my attempts to be a normal person.
I finally won a raffle in the vendor area after 20 some years of attending the conference. Multiple bottles of wine were won and then my ticket was drawn when they were giving away three childrens books. Even when I win, I am a loser.
Every time I leave the conference I feel like I’m ready to make a leap and do something new with my career. I never do. Even though I was better at talking to people this year I will not use it to try to move ahead in my career. I will continue to work for the same place in the same job until I retire. I do try to take back what I learn and use it in my job, so the conference does make me better at my job. I will never be the person who has the ability to use networking opportunities for career advancement. So, sorry coworkers, you are stuck with me.