My very first LIS conference was last year’s SAA meeting, which took place in DC. It was before I started library school, so I really had no idea what to expect. I was too shy to reach out and meet new people since it was my first conference — and I felt like I was an imposter who had no idea what archives were really about. Additionally, since I didn’t have to travel for it, I felt more comfortable going home after a day of sessions instead of hanging out and meeting new people.
This year’s SAA conference was a lot different for me. First, I felt like I was reaching the end of a marathon — from March-June, I attended 5 (!) conferences. All of those conferences really helped me become more comfortable with the idea of “networking” — or meeting people, which is how I prefer to think of it. The best way to feel comfortable about meeting and talking with strangers is to do a lot of it. And everyone I’ve met at LIS conferences is overwhelmingly friendly and approachable. I also think attending conferences in cities outside of your home, while more expensive, really forces you to socialize more.
After finishing three semesters of library school, I no longer felt that I had no idea what people were talking about in the archives world. I certainly didn’t understand everything, but I didn’t feel like an impostor anymore. Also, I really like the size of SAA’s conference — it’s definitely not as overwhelming as ALA. I feel like at any given time, you see familiar faces along with unfamiliar ones.
Overall, my best experience at SAA was having a graduate poster. It was a great opportunity for me to meet new people and discuss my research interests in archives. Mostly, I just really enjoyed the format of individual interactions and discussions. I highly recommend doing a poster session!
It’s interesting to look back over the past year and see how far I’ve grown. Honestly, I think that conferences and connecting online with the library/archives Twitterverse and blogworld have been far more valuable experiences for me than classes — at least in terms of personal development and growth. Does anyone else feel the same?
(If you’re interested in reading conference session reviews, check out this collaborative wrap-up post over at Hack Library School.)