So this weekend, I went to my very first conference of the American Library Association which provided me the opportunity to network and engage with others in my newly-discovered profession and I must say that I enjoyed most of it. And I am tired as hell which is why I am writing this from home.
The company where I have worked since July 2011 switched me over from Diversity Fellow to a full-time employee as a Metadata Specialist. However, attending this conference was one of my fellow duties. I had to serve as a representative of my company's commitment to diversity. This also entailed my badge photo being blown up for all to see as my company updated the rest of ALA on its happenings.
I knew this from my time participating in NABJ, but I really enjoyed being in the mix. Every time I sat in a session to hear about the update of where librarianship was heading, I met someone new, business cards were exchanged and soon after this blog, I will have to send out some follow-up e-mails. I plan on riding out this Diversity Fellow thing as long as I can to make contacts.
In writing this blog, I decided to just sum up my points on attending my first ALA conference in a list.
1) Unlike journalism, librarians aren't necessarily used to seeing aggressive neo-librarians. Actually, quite a few expressed surprise at how quickly I exchanged information.
2) Library conferences are seriously all about learning. There is socializing but after sitting in session after session, you will just want to eat and go to sleep.
3) People are so super-eager to mentor you and help you out if they think you are young. I can't tell you how many free cab rides and meals I got as a result of this.
4) Adding to the last point, if they help you out, they also want to see you contribute to the organization in some shape, way or form. Therefore, I will be joining at least five listservs after this blog.
5) While I plan to get involved with the Black Caucus of ALA, I definitely don't want to limit myself within the bigger organization. While it was more organized than some black organizations I have participated in, I did not feel the embrace that I did with the other divisions of ALA. And yes those divisions were predominantly white.
6) Had a chance to talk with our other Diversity Fellow out of California who vented about what he wasn't doing and how he couldn't get what he wanted out of the fellowship. And how he didn't know what he would be doing with his life in six months once it was over. Felt sorry for him, but one thing I've learned is the main time you can ask for what you want and prove yourself is when you're the new person. I communicated my wants and needs into a job. Go me. This sister did it for her damn self.
7) I have gypsy written on my forehead. Had dinner with my boss and she pretty much told me she doesn't see me trying to stay at my company forever. I am a go-getter and she encouraged me to continue my raised profile at my company.
8) If there are black, experienced women at your company, they will pull you aside for a "keep it real" moment on how to move up in the company and how much harder you will have to work. And they will keep their ear to the ground for you.
So there you have it. Less professional blog is forthcoming.