Earlier this year, the California School Library Association (CLSA) had its annual conference at the Bahia, down in Mission Bay- an easy day trip for me. I cleared my schedule for that Friday, made sure my husband could pick my daughter up from school, and headed down to the bay. My objectives were simple: learn a few things relative to k-5 school libraries, introduce myself to the librarians from my daughter’s school district who were presenting that day (Risen from the Ashes), and meet up with my professor and some fellow students.
I was glad I made the effort to come down, but I almost didn’t make it in. I hadn’t read the registration information correctly back home, and when I got there, I realized that a one-day pass was much more expensive than I had anticipated, even with my CSLA membership. For a self-funded romp in library conference land, it just wasn’t worth the price. My miniature drama played out in front of everyone as we were all queued up to check in. I had already been given the official conference schwag-bag and when they could not offer me any student discounts or alternatives, I swallowed my pride, handed back the bright red Perma-bound sponsored bag and announced that I would at least be keeping the free pen, since I had already been using it. Oh well, I thought. I can spend the day catching up on homework instead. Then, just as I was approaching the elevators, my conference angel tapped me on the shoulder and whispered conspiratorially, “Here’s a bag and a program… Go! Just go! Enjoy the sessions.”
So that’s what I did. My first selection was a jam-packed session entitled “New Books for Boys: And Anyone Else Who Likes a Good Read” by Deborah B. Ford, Director of Junior Library Guild. I got the impression that everyone already knew her (or knew of her) and were there to hear the good word. But really, it just amounted to her describing book after book that was coming out. To me, it seems like that would be something I could do on-line, but everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves. I was hoping for more lecture and tips. Still, I scribbled some notes in my freebie Follett notebook, including a reference to TuBooks with whom I am now connected on Twitter.
Finding my next session was an adventure, as it turned out to be aboard a paddle-steamer. Sadly, we never went out on the bay, but just learned about content marketing while rocking back and forth at the dock. Brigeen Radoicich-Houghton (please don’t ask me to pronounce that) from the Fresno County Office of Education gave a great session, full of interesting and useful information, summarized in my tweets:
As I moved from session to session, I carried my red schwag-bag with me like I owned the place. Or, at least like I belonged there. Like I was a legitimate, paying member of the profession. My bag and I ended up at Doree Tschudy’s presentation, “Becoming a Centered Librarian”, which, by that point in the afternoon, sounded enormously appealing- as if we might even get down on the floor and do some yoga, who knows. Well, that didn’t happen, but I did learn that creating stations for various library programs can be as easy as using book carts, and that crazy determined people like Doree Tschudy get away with library programming for each class that involves a choice of six centers in a period of 20 minutes, leaving 10 min to check out books. Wow!! I’d like to try something like that next year.
Later in the afternoon, I got to listen to the Vista Unified School District (VUSD) librarians who are really rockin’ it. They gave us an update on the implementation of the district’s library strategic plan- reviewing some of the successes and lessons-learned. I was proud to be a VUSD parent and library volunteer. Great group of ladies who know their stuff. I met briefly with Ranae Mathias afterwards and, later, sent her a quick email to follow up and let her know that she should think of me as an ally and advocate.
Finally, that evening, I got to sit down with Mary Ann and talk to some of my student colleagues. I really enjoyed chatting with Suzanne Sannwald who is a high school librarian down in San Diego and who I plan on keeping in touch with. I’ve admired her work on our course site and discussion boards for the past two semesters, so it’s great to know her now.
All in all, it was totally worth the effort. If not for the session content, then definitely for the people I met, and the red bag that, together with my #sensibleshoes, has school librarian written all over it.