ALA Reflections

July 9, 2016

So many people—14,000!—gathered in Orlando, Florida for the American Library Association annual conference in June 2016, and I was one of them. I was a Student2Staff member, representing Drexel University where I’m pursing my MSLIS. As an S2S-er, I worked four hours each day of the conference, and had the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes. I still had plenty of time to attend talks, tour the exhibition area and seek resume advice. I loved being among all these people who care about education, intellectual freedom and BOOKS—not just those newfangled electronic versions, but the paper and ink kind.

What I am loving about the library profession so far is the political awareness and engagement of many librarians. It is refreshing, especially since many of my work experiences (in TV, in classical music, in circus arts) tended toward the apolitical as in, “How dare you mix feminism and (insert particular artform here)?”, as if I can easily separate my being in the world/awareness of the world’s workings from my creative expression and work life. Maybe some people can do that, but for me, the personal is still political.

Also comforting for me is that even though our schools and career advisors like to talk about librarians being “Information Professionals”, I felt that many in attendance share my view that libraries and librarians are in the “business” of helping to share and create knowledge. We have way more in common with teachers than with computer programmers, though some librarians teach and some program computers. There’s a vast range of skills and interests within the library field, and so I am hopeful that I will find work within it that really suits my wide-ranging knowledge of the arts, the media, history, social studies and more.

My Godmother was a librarian, and it seems that knew me better than I knew myself when she got me my first job—at age 16—working as a Page in the Queens Library. She passed away unexpectedly shortly after I moved to Philadelphia, but I know she would be happy about and proud of my latest career move.

 

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