I Still Have All My Toes


No thanks to a leaky boot and Philly sidewalk slush. Yep, I’m at Midwinter. Thus far it’s awesome, but thoughts come in bytes, not sentences and paragraphs so keep an eye on me in Twitter, feed to the right or @alringness

May your Friday shoes be warm!

Missing: One Month

Conferences, Job Hunting, Uncategorized
Conference badge with speaker ribbon.

I had a speaker ribbon.

I seem to have lost my November. Has anyone seen it?

Let’s try to catch up here: the Arizona Library Association annual conference came off quite well. The poster session was a blast, because I was there with the rest of the super-cool AzLA Web Committee, and because it’s way more fun to have conversations with people than it is to speak to them while they stare holes in you. My big scary presentation, the one where my co-presenter and I stood at the front of a room for 45 minutes and spoke about roaming reference while 80 eyeballs bored holes in us, went off very well. I chose to present after years as an attendee because the two of us had a terrific project I wanted to share, and also because speaking in public still scares me. The only way I can get over that fear is by presenting, presenting, and presenting again. I was so glad to have my co-presenter: she helped talk me through pre-presentation jitters, and started off the presentation on the right foot.

Overall, the conference was a great experience. I’m on the lookout for another presentation topic already: got to get over that public-speaking anxiety!

Right after the conference I had a job interview. I know, I said I was going to focus on the jobs I had instead of looking for more. But some really stellar positions opened up, and I fell for them. The interview was a really positive experience. For starters, I learned that I can survive a day-long academic interview. I also identified some things that I would like to work on in future interviews. Polishing my presentation skills is on the list, of course.

More jobs are being posted, finals are coming due…take a good look, because I think December is going to be gone pretty soon, too.

The Conference is Coming

Conferences, Professional Development
Silver metal box on a staircase landing

AzLA 2013 met at South Mountain Community College, a building filled with interesting spaces.

The Arizona Library Association Conference, to be precise. The past several years I have been an observer at my state’s library conference. It was a nice experience: catching up with past colleagues, soaking in the new information. This year, I have made a swift, unintentional 180 from that approach.

I will be presenting twice, participating in a poster session, and leading an honor society meeting.

Let me say: I did not intend to overcompensate for my past AzLA conferences this much. I had one presentation idea, but then a work committee I was on decided to present, and another committee decided to contribute a poster session. My only explanation for how I forgot I was also in charge of the honor society meeting was motivated forgetting. I think I was trying to pretend that I had not signed up for a number of commitments that will be challenging, to say the least. I love each of these things individually, and have a great time working on all of them, but when they are all added together, the result is that spare time and sanity will be luxury goods until after the conference.

Wish me luck!

Highs and Lows

Conferences, Job Hunting
Poster at ALA Annual Conference

The posters saved me.

Back home, safe and sound, and life is ordinary again. I had a colleague ask me if I’m glad I went. I am, but it took me a while to arrive at this conclusion. There were some major dislikes along with the likes. The major thing framing my experience of the conference is simply where I am in my library career. I’m a relatively new librarian. I went on my own time, without a specific to-do list or committee responsibilities. If you were me, and wondering what you should do at Annual, I would absolutely not recommend

The Job Placement Center

I had very high hopes for the Job Placement Center. I got a really terrific resume reading at ACRL’s Job Placement Center, so I was ready to make more great connections, talk jobs, etc. etc. This did not happen. The people running the welcome and registration booth gave me as warm a welcome as a bowl of goldfish might. They were not actively unfriendly, but they did not ask what I needed, nor did they attempt to showcase all the features of the Placement Center. The one thing I know about job hunting is that it makes one anxious and self-conscious, and a big smile and a hello goes a long way towards helping that. Didn’t get either of those. Is there some sort of magic handshake that turns the Placement Center into a world of opportunity? Don’t know, the people manning the center didn’t offer to tell me. I printed out a copy of my resume on the mind-numbingly slow computers and puttered around to the different booths, ready to do my “I’m an underemployed digital projects librarian” song & dance (do any other librarians on the job market ever feel like a poodle in a tutu at the circus?). But there were very few booths, none from state libraries or consortia that might offer lots of jobs from a variety of libraries, and after a failed attempt to connect with a singularly grumpy librarian from a university, I took my sad little underemployed self out of there.

It was really demoralizing.

Thank goodness for the

Poster Sessions

These totally saved me. Poster sessions are where people who are working on a super-cool project tell people who are interested in the same thing about their super-cool project. For five minutes, you get to have an awesome conversation with an interesting person, and ask them all the silly questions about their project you never would have dared to–or had time to–in a lecture-style presentation. I learned about cleaning up metadata on digitized archival collections, open source folklore, and slow reading. I got to compare notes on roaming reference with librarians from halfway across the country. I listened to the answers to others’ questions and learned things about patron-driven acquisition I never would have thought to ask.

So yes, in the end, I am glad I went to ALA annual. I brought home lots of notes on things to tell my librarian friends about, things that do not pertain to my work, but which meet a need in their work. I met a lot of interesting people and learned about their libraries and what they do there. In the end, the function of ALA Annual was to remind me that the library world is a big place filled with possibilities.

Unpacking ALA


ALA Annual is far too much to unpack in one day. Right now, an entire weekend of experience is a mush of faces, presentations, conversations, and handouts. Has this happened to any of you?


The lovely people at Isovera were handing out jam with their business cards.


The program book is awesome for reading ads and awful for finding the sessions you want to attend.


Sustaining the level of energy needed to truck around a giant convention center and remain bright and personable requires a lot of food.

Does This Ribbon Make Me Look Desperate?

Academic libraries, Conferences


As if attending a conference wasn’t fraught with enough decisions–which sessions to attend, exhibit hall or no–they also present us with ribbons with which to identify ourselves. Part of me feels just like a Girl Scout collecting badges, and the other part feels like I’m maybe trying too hard to establish a marketable identity.

Oh the agony of decision-making when your body insists it’s only 5:30, not 8:30.

All Right All Ready

Academic libraries, Conferences, Uncategorized


The Association of College and Research Libraries annual conference starts tomorrow, and in the past fee weeks, I have been bombarded with print and e-mail advertisements from what must be every single vendor attending the exhibit hall.

I’m coming already, people. Just be forewarned: I’m not coming with a budget.

Brought to you by the letters M and W

Conferences, Networking
The facades in downtown Seattle are absolutely wonderful

The facades in downtown Seattle are absolutely wonderful

This time last week, I was coming home from the 2013 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting and thinking that goodness, it had been a busy week. One of the very last sessions I attended was the Midwinter End-of-Meeting Camp, and that session offered me the brain-unpacking I needed so very much. I was glad to find that I was not the only librarian attending an ALA conference for the first time, and that many of us were on the same page.

Ultimately, attending a conference is about learning. Learning about other libraries, and other flavors of librarianship, meeting other librarians and hearing what they do and why they came–and how it’s the same and different from why you came.

Just like becoming a college student for the first time (or all over again), there are things you can do to help you learn. For every suggestion I got before arriving, there were a few obvious things I was surprised to discover. I’m going to a few more conferences this year, and these are the things I’ll be keeping in mind:

1. Talk to everyone. Waiting in line, eating breakfast, before a session begins, after a session ends. This includes walking up to the presenters and chatting with them after sessions. It feels a little scary the first few times, but I found that everyone I talked to wanted to talk.

2. Don’t worry about what sessions you attend. Someone told me this before I left, and they were absolutely right. There will be one or two sessions that can’t be missed, but at a national-level conference, there will be at least two interesting, valuable, or fun sessions happening during any given time frame.

3. Do not eat in the convention center. Get out, breathe fresh air, take a little walk, and find someplace to eat that serves good food. Yes, that crepe stand on the corner counts.

4. Expect to gather tidbits of information, not glossy packages that can be unwrapped and plugged in to your particular job or projects. This is my takeaway from the whole makerspace craze: deconstruct everything, take out what you like, and use it to build what you need. Or want.

5. Do the exhibits, even if you have absolutely no purchasing power. I always thought exhibits were just for people who actually bought things, but shopping critically, comparing the various e-book services or types of library furniture, is a great way to see what the state of the art is.

6. Don’t paint your nails bright red. You will spend the entire conference touching them up in a desperate attempt to keep them from looking like a teenager’s nails.

Conference Preparation, Steps 2, 3, and 4



Paint your nails. I have a weakness for nail polish. I think it adds a nice finishing touch. But in the course of travel, packing, unpacking, and conferencing, my nail polish has gotten chipped in a million places. Thank goodness I brought the color with me.