This past October I attended and presented at 4 conferences throughout the state of West Virginia and would like to share my experiences.
1. October 9 – 11, 2013: West Virginia Library Association annual conference in Shepherdstown, WV
This was my first WVLA Annual Conference, and my first time to Shepherdstown. Both were amazing! For those who are unfamiliar with Shepherdstown, it is a quaint little college town and home of Shepherd University with plenty of restaurants, bars and unique little shops to keep you occupied for hours on end. The conference was held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center which is conveniently within walking distance of the main road and Shepherd University. This year’s theme was “e = everyone.” Each day was filled with wonderful presentations and speakers covering MOOCs, digital resources, WV authors, the future of libraries, literacy, funding and so much more. Wednesday night’s activities featured storytelling by Granny Sue Holstein, a West Virginia native and amazing storyteller (you never want her to stop), karaoke, a movie, and a pub crawl. I had no idea how much librarians love to sing and have hidden musical talents! Artist and author Michael Albert did a presentation Thursday afternoon, handed out free signed posters of his artwork, and hosted a build your own piece of art session in the evening. The Three Amigas (again, so much musical & storytelling talent!) were the evening’s cocktail hour entertainment before our Awards Banquet and guest speaker, Dr. S.K. Hastings, Director, University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science. Dr. Hastings’ uplifting, energetic and moving speech focused on literacy and family involvement and how libraries play a major role in both areas. Friday morning’s breakfast session featured several WV authors and was followed by the various round table meetings.
Not only was this conference incredibly informative, but also provided a wonderful networking opportunity. Librarians from all over the state and from all aspects of library services attended and shared their progresses, setbacks and ideas. What a wonderful gathering!
2. October 18 – 19, 2013: Library 2.013 Virtual Conference
Library 2.0 (http://www.library20.com/) is a virtual gathering spot for librarians from all over the world with the goal of promoting “the future of libraries in the digital age.” The conference was online, in multiple time zones over the course of two days, and free to attend. Again, the vast array of topics covered would attract any librarian and all sessions were phenomenal. The conference lasted almost 24/7 in order to cover all time zones and participating countries. I highly recommend taking the time to browse through the recordings (all sessions were recorded and are free to watch) and watch anything that catches your eye.
3. October 23 – 25, 2013: WVCCA-WVADE Annual Conference
The West Virginia Community College annual conference, while not specifically geared towards librarians, was very informative. I was disappointed to see no presentations representing libraries or library services as I know that these services play a major part in student success. I would like to see at least one (it is a rather small conference) session next year addressing any of the major topics (adults learners, student retention, technologies; the list goes on and on). Several of the sessions I found very informative were those that covered grant writing (it was HARRY POTTER themed, with a portion of the music and everything) and the two sessions that covered apps with Bloom’s Taxonimy and Multiple Intelligences. I have to admit, I am incredibly biased in the selection of these later two because both were created by my awesome coworker Dr. Sherri Ritter and I have co-presented “Big Bloom Theory” with her on several occasions including this conference. Sherri also has a wonderful technology-centered blog, http://learningcenteredtechnology.wordpress.com/.
4. October 25, 2013: Forward Focus Virtual Conference
The theme of the second Forward Focus conference this year was “Inspiring Library Innovation.” A one hour panel discussion started the conference off and was followed by ten 30-minute group moderated discussions. I moderated two discussions and participated in several others and found these to be incredibly helpful. The moderators generated and posed three questions to the participants who had time to discuss each one, and boy, was there discussion! I am looking forward to Forward Focus next year and hope to be involved again. Even though this conference was not free to attend, it did not break the bank with a $10 fee, either.
As the calls for proposals, panel members, and round table discussions roll in, I feel a bit overwhelmed by the large number of conferences that I would love to attend, but most likely cannot afford (both time and budget). I found the 2 virtual conferences a nice alternative to the face-to-face conferences (although I am really pushing to go to ALA in Las Vegas in June). I would love to see more community college representation across the board! We have a lot to say, a lot to stand for, and a lot of wonderful things going on, so let’s talk about it!