Published: May 23, 2023 by Nanci Dela Cruz Aguayo
Since I started library school, I have made it my mission to attend conferences where I can network and learn information that will make me more attractive when I graduate. In my current job at a university library, travel funds are limited only for librarians; thus, I was delighted to find out about SJSU travel scholarships for current students. Within days they approved my application and I was able to start attending the Ex Libris User Conference of North America (ELUNA) in Los Angeles.
Context of ELUNA
ELUNA is an annual conference for libraries that use Ex Libris products, such as Alma. Alma is a library management system that manages electronic and printed documents in a single interface. Major higher institutions in Las Vegas use Alma to manage their collections. Since I want to be a college librarian in Las Vegas after I graduate, I thought it would be beneficial for me to learn about Alma’s abilities and network with people from other institutions.
On the first night of the conference, I decided to attend the first attendee’s dinner. When planning my outfit for the trip, I made sure to pack at least one nice extra business dinner outfit, just in case. I met a wonderful Connecticut e-Resources Librarian and discussed which parts of the conference we are looking forward to and which sessions would be most beneficial.
The best sessions I’ve attended were on usability testing with Primo (a library discovery service). I found this useful as I would like to learn and develop my skills in usability testing. Another popular topic was artificial intelligence. Different librarians contributed their views, and it was interesting to hear how they thought libraries might adopt it.
The conference experience was spectacular. I strongly recommend that MLIS students attend at least one conference before graduating. On the other hand, the conference took place during the week of the finals; I spent all my free time completing a major project for my Information Literacy course. I would definitely recommend moving your classwork forward as much as possible before attending a lecture, if possible. Otherwise, I thought it put me in a librarian mindset that helped me focus even more on my project.
Overall I had a great time learning new information and new people. I really appreciate SJSU for providing these amazing opportunities for students.
Editor’s note: SJSU iSchool strongly encourages students to attend professional conferences, but also realizes that it can be cost prohibitive. Travel scholarships are available to eligible students to help reduce financial burden and increase conference attendance. Nanci Dela Cruz Aguayo, a student at iSchool, received one of these travel grants.