CLA Montreal 2009

n.b. this is item is cross-posted from its original site, the CLA’s Re:Generations blog, which I am a sometimes-contributor. Comments are disabled here only to get you to reply in kind over there. 🙂

Spring is in the air, which means it’s conference season! At both the library I work in and the library school I attend, people are looking over their copy of Feliciter and making travel plans for CLA Montreal 2009. I’m thoroughly enjoying my time watching colleagues hem and haw over what concurrent sessions they’ll be forced to choose between, or which pre-Conference session they can’t live without. (For me, it’s Jessamyn West and Co. in the Emerging Technologies Camp. I hope to see you there.)

This excitement has made me wonder if there is a “conference etiquette” for new or young professionals in librarianship and information science. Not too long ago, I read an interesting book about by a professor of literature about his first year on the job in an American college. The author’s advice to the new professor, based on his own experience, was to attend many meetings and conferences and to look busy by taking many notes, but never to say a peep. It was better to show one’s face and be quiet than be remembered as the one who constantly stuck his foot in his mouth, he surmised.

With nearly a year into the librarianship gig, however, I’m willing to make sweeping generalizations about our kind and say that librarians don’t necessarily want to keep quiet as their academic cousins might want to do. This is especially so when there is an opportunity to meet new people, engage in new ideas and concepts, or to make change, even if only on a small scale. Librarians, in short, are an energetic and intelligent bunch. We like action, and we like to be a part of it. I intend to go to many sessions, spark many conversations, and maybe even put my foot in my mouth once or twice. The CLA is a learning experience, not for only new professionals, but for all attendees, and I’ll make the most of it.

So, aside from the breakfasts for new librarians and the CACUL meetings, how do you spend your time at professional conferences? Will you take the bull by the horns and network and engage with as many free spirits as possible, or will you lie low and let the conference run its course, confident in your knowledge that all things will pass? Is there a conference etiquette for young librarians? And if so, are you willing to go into the breach?