How I do love a conference: ALIA Information Online 2015

Online tweetThe first week in February was a busy professional one for me. The ALIA Information Online conference rolled into town and with a manager from MPOW on the program committee, we were in the thick of it with satellite and related events being hosted on our campus and a number of our staff chairing sessions throughout the 3 days of the conference itself. Like many organisations, we share attendance for a local conference, with the library buying a number of registrations and then interested staff given the opportunity to attend different days or half days. I’ve long since cottoned on to the fact that putting my hand up to actively participate at the conference provides a greater guarantee that I’ll be able to attend.

I chaired a session – this is the second time I’ve done this and something I really enjoy. Standing up in front of a crowd to talk is something I love doing (just ask anyone who knows me, I’m always happy to be front and centre talking!). It also gives me the opportunity to meet people from our profession that I might not otherwise come across – this time I got to introduce Mylee Joseph from the State Library of NSW and meet her in person after following her on twitter for many years.

I also co-presented 2 papers, one related to a project at MPOW and one related to the International Librarians Network. The work project was a slightly drier topic (!) but I feel we managed to inject a level of interest and enthusiasm for the outcomes of our project into our 20 minutes. Our take-home messages were grabbed and distributed by the twitter crowd (more and more I feel that part of writing a good presentation is the need for a series of short grabs that can be easily tweeted out – I’ve picked up more than one great idea from a conference in this way, usually when I’m not actually attending but am following from afar via the back channel).

However, as anyone who has attended a good conference knows, the papers, the keynotes and the conference (vendor) loot are only part of the story (even when the keynotes are as good as this one). I value the opportunity to network, catch up with friends and colleagues, meet some of my twitter pals face to face (sometimes for the first time) and spend a few days hanging out in an atmosphere of energy and enthusiasm. I always come back from a conference feeling professionally renewed and it is worth all the angst that goes into getting a paper written and a presentation to the point where it can be delivered in order to experience that renewal. Do me a favour – remind me of that the next time one of these rolls around and I ask why I’m doing this – ok?

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