Published: April 16, 2023 by Kesheena Doctor
At the beginning of the year, I had planned to attend as many conferences as possible while remaining I’m at school
student. At the beginning of the spring semester, I applied for
SJSU Travel Scholarship for Current Students to attend the
ALA ACRL 2023 Conference. Within days, I was notified that my fellowship had been approved, and I was able to begin planning my trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where this year’s biannual conference was being held.
Travel logistics planning
In preparation for this trip, I revisited a previous blog I have written about attending conferences for reference. After some deliberation, I have decided to attend ACRL 2023 since I intend to become a liaison librarian at an academic institution. Pittsburgh was also a short plane ride from New Orleans, which kept airfares low. Since I met the scholarship eligibility requirements, I applied for the SJSU Travel Scholarship almost immediately after it became available for the spring semester. I understood that funds were limited and would increase my chances of approval if I applied immediately. As soon as I was notified that I had been awarded a scholarship, I
registered for the conference and made travel arrangements. A learned colleague of the
ARL Kaleidoscope Program offered to share their hotel room with me, which also helped me manage my budget. During the first week of the spring semester, I was able to secure funding, travel, and accommodation for ACRL 2023.
Although I am new to librarianship, I still had colleagues to meet and interact with at the conference. An old zine friend who is now an instructional librarian at Reed College also attended ACRL. In addition to my roommate at the hotel, five other researchers from the ARL’s Kaleidoscope program attended the conference. I made tentative plans to hang out with everyone, which quickly filled up my time outside of the conference.
After reviewing the
conference program, I realized that it was not possible to attend all the presentations that interested me since presentation times often overlapped. After some deliberation, I decided that I would attend the poster presentations for each day and during free time I would participate in the panel discussions that interested me. The ACRL also offered informal get-togethers, and I had planned to attend the exhibits opening reception, first-time orientation, student happy hour, and St. Patrick.
Define the objectives of the conference
Having decided to attend ACRL on short notice, I missed the conference proposal deadlines and was unable to present. Instead, I chose to try to attend as many presentations as possible to learn more about how librarian conferences work. The ACRL also offered volunteer opportunities, which I signed up for and was accepted into a mock interview panel at the conference.
ACRL Career and Placement Center 2023. I also made the decision to actively meet with other Indigenous librarians, BIPOC librarians, and SJSU students and faculty.
A month before the conference, I met with my mentor from the Kaleidoscope program to discuss my goals and they gave me some sweet suggestions to make it easier for me to achieve them. Since I was going to be interacting with thousands of future colleagues, I had concerns about dress code and how I would present myself. My mentor took on these challenges, suggesting that I present myself in a way I felt most comfortable with and represent myself authentically. After our conversation, I decided to bring the attire I wore when I worked at my part-time job at the public library. We then discussed possible networking tools I could use, and I elected to bring business cards and a mini-zine that detailed how I got into librarianship. I made a handful of copies and chose to reserve the mini-zines for librarians with whom I had close ties.
Other small details
While preparing for the actual lecture was straightforward, I worked diligently to complete the class assignments that were due during the lecture. I anticipated that I would be very busy at the conference and not have time to work on homework. Working ahead was extremely stressful and I highly recommend structuring a diligent yet achievable schedule to effectively meet deadlines. I was lax about my homework schedule and mixed up a few homework due dates, so I spent the week before the conference studying around the clock. I also planned my luggage needs and took some light in case I needed to walk around with my bags on the days I was traveling to and from Pittsburgh. Planning all of these details prepared me for my trip so that I could spend my time experiencing the conference as much as possible.
My Conference Preparation Checklist
- review upcoming conferences
- make a list of conferences you would like to attend
- note important deadlines for proposal submissions and travel awards
- solicit proposals and/or travel grants
- secure accommodation, financing and airfare
- reach out to networks to find out who is attending the conference and make plans
- review the conference program and plan your personal schedule
- work on school homework ahead of time to have free time for the lecture
- research the host city for things to do
- pack and make sure you have all the necessary networking gear
Stay tuned for part 2 of the blog where I discuss my time at ACRL!