Quick MLA Recap

At CMLE we are big fans of going to conferences! You get the chance to meet people, to learn new ideas, and to connect with others who do what you do in your library. So it was great to go to the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Annual conference in Rochester.

Have you listened to our podcast about attending and presenting at conferences? Check out #209 and get some info about planning your own conference experiences!

The checking in process was fast and smooth! It’s always fun to go to conferences where things are so nicely organized. You can focus on the fun things to do, the sessions to attend, and all the interesting people you are meeting. And there were so many good things to do here – we were jam packed from start to finish!

It’s always valuable to attend conferences for your own professional development. The library profession is a fast-moving one, and the skills we used five years ago – or even last year – are not a match for the needs of today and into the future. Continuing education of all types is a must for providing good service. Conferences not only do that, they make it fun to meet people who like the same interesting things you do! (And I promise you: there is ALWAYS something interesting under discussion at conferences!)

The photo above is a somewhat blurry look at the session “Radical All Along: A Historical Look at Minnesota Librarianship.” Yes, libraries have always been exciting places to learn new things. (And if the current Minnesota Public Library Commission would like to resume their past practice of performing interpretative dances – there was popular acclaim for it in the session!)

Other sessions included:

  • Minitex: Where Libraries are Strong, Staff are Good-Looking, and Patrons are above Average
  • Let’s Talk about Serving Patrons with Dementia
  • Would Trader Joe’s Hire You? Lessons from the Best Retailers
  • Wikipedia as Community Organizing
  • Libraries: Fighting Childhood Food Insecurity Year-Round for a Better Future!
  • Planting the Seeds of Learning: The Library as a Nature Based Learning System
  • RA Crutches
  • When home Won’t Let You Stay: Telling the Story of Refugees Living in Minnesota
  • Blinded Me With Science!: STEAM-based Programs for Toddlers and Preschoolers

And there were so many more great ones! The problem was picking just one session to attend at a time; but that is a pretty high-class problem to have at an event.

We were in Rochester’s civic center, so the public library was easily accessible. Several of us toured through the building – and it’s always fun to see how different libraries arrange things. This library brings in a lot of great visuals, along with an interesting collection of materials, to provide service to their local community members. And they were very patient with the flocks of visiting library people who stopped in to ask questions and admire their stuff!

Conferences are not all networking and educational sessions – there is always time for fun! A fun thing at this conference is the silent auction, with a huge array of things you can bid on – library related and just fun. Yes, I did bid on this Nancy Pearl action figure; no, I did not win it. Drat. But last year I did win the wonderful bear, Orville, who became our Official Office Bear! (You can find his image all over our website – he’s a natural-born star.)

And there are always plenty of fun things to do outside the conference itself.  The planning committee gave a lot of useful information on fun places to go, things to see, groups going to different restaurants, and other good suggestions.  This was my first trip to Rochester, and it was really fun to check out their skyway and subway systems, trudge their walking trails (even in some rain!), and to enjoy meeting library people at all kinds of different restaurants! Attending conferences is educational in so many ways; and getting to know a new place is just one of the valuable things you learn!

This was just a quick, obviously incomplete look at attending a conference. Did you go to MLA? Share your stories with us! Are you thinking about attending another conference? We have scholarships for CMLE members!

Go! Learn! Try new things! Meet interesting people! Libraries are great, and so are library conferences!

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