Student reflections on ALA Annual

by Neyda Gilman

I had no idea what to expect at the ALA meeting. From the couple people I talked with left me with the impression that ALA is huge with crowds and crowds of people and too many programs to choose from. I had also been told the importance of making a good impression; you never knew if the person you end up sitting next to could be your next boss. In the weeks before I left I was worried about being overwhelmed by the huge crowds and obsessed with whether or not I had packed appropriate clothes for all five days (my suitcase was stuffed with a variety of clothes and weighed over forty pounds). Would it be appropriate to wear shoes without socks? What if I get lost? How does an introvert such as myself approach complete strangers and “network” properly? I was beginning to question my decision to go and pictured myself spending most of my time hiding in my hotel room.

My first day there I had no choice but to laugh at myself. I had brought way too many clothes, no one was paying attention to my shoes, and talking to people was almost too easy. My time at ALA has been the most exciting, fulfilling, and educational experience of my LIS career thus far. There were too many programs to choose from, but that just meant if something I thought was going to be interesting turned out not to be I could leave and go find something that really was interesting. The conference badges have your name and city of residence on them, which means people will see where you’re from, or that you are a student, and just start talking to you. I started conversations with people simply because their nametag said “UT” (I am originally from UT) and I had two people start conversations with me when they saw I live in Lockport. Really, TWO people stopped me to talk about Lockport… I can’t imagine how many times I would have been stopped if I had an actual city on my badge.

I thought I was going to be stressed, bored, and longing for home the whole conference. In reality I was going from 7am till 11pm every day and enjoying (almost) every minute of it. Most of the sessions I attended had something to do with diversity or technology. Often they were about both. I learned about different technologies and the roles they play both in libraries and in the varying communities libraries serve. I was reminded of the huge social, political, and economic gaps in America; the role that Librarians can play to help diminish these gaps was reiterated throughout almost every session. I also went to sessions on other topics I am passionate about, such as open access.

During my time at ALA I went to interesting and educational sessions, listened to inspirational authors (George R. R. Martin to name just one), learned more about ALA and all of its divisions and groups and affiliates, got advice on how to succeed in the career, met amazing people (Sherman Alexie), made numerous new connections (holy crap I networked!), and saw the Rock Bottom Remainders (including Stephen King wearing a Gunslingers shirt of all things) play at the scholarship fund raiser. ALA was an experience I will never forget. I am excited to attend as many library conferences as I can throughout my career as a Librarian. Did I mention they give away free books? LOTS of free books!


Thoughts from a Student-to-Staff participant @ ALA Annual

by Esther Marie Jackson

I had the pleasure of being selected as the SUNY Buffalo Student-2-Staff participant. Thanks to this program I had the opportunity to attend ALA in Anaheim as a student worker, which made the conference really affordable for me, as well as very valuable in terms of networking opportunities.

Each Student-to-Staff participant was assigned a particular group to work for within ALA. I had the opportunity to work for two groups, RUSA, (Reference & User Services Association), and ASCLA, (Association of Specialized & Cooperative Library Agencies). As a student worker, I helped to set up events, handed out lots of brochures, stuffed lots of goodie bags with free books, welcomed people to receptions, and was generally a cheerleader for the organizations I was representing. I had the opportunity to meet lots of people within both of the organizations, including officers and members, and also worked closely with the ALA employees who organized the events. I was given quite a few free books, (including autographed copies of many!), and a few free dinners. If you haven’t already clicked on the link above to find out more about this program, you absolutely should- Student-to-Staff is an amazing opportunity and something you should definitely try to do.

I had been to a few smaller conferences before this one, and so I wasn’t as intimidated by the idea of heading into unknown territory without knowing anyone as perhaps I should have been. I made sure to check out a bunch of blogs that had tips for attending conferences, and I also grilled people who I knew had been to conferences before. (My favorite list of tips, by the way, is from Free Range Librarian, found here.) I was really particular about making my schedule and planning my time well, but even still I missed out on a couple of sessions that I didn’t know about until too late, or that my student job conflicted with. What can you do? I made the most of it, and everything worked out.

At the smaller conferences I attended in the past, I networked a *lot*. For some reason, maybe because ALA is so much larger than everything else, I found that I networked with people on more of a casual basis during the conference. I went out to dinner a couple of times with a few different groups of people, and I struck up conversations in a variety of places, such as on the shuttle to and from the airport. I ultimately felt like I used my time well in this regard, though I suppose I could have been more aggressive when it came to meeting new people. All in all, though, I thought my networking was successful.

In terms of my own personal advice to people planning on attending ALA in the future, I guess I’ll boil it down to five short tips.

1. Wear comfortable shoes. This one is on practically all of the “conference tips” lists you’ll find, and I’ll agree with it completely. I walked about a mile and a half to find Vietnamese food, then got turned around thanks to the Maps app on my phone, and circled the parameter of Disneyland for probably an additional mile on my way back. Wear comfortable shoes!

2. Talk to people. More simple than just networking, feel free to start conversations with people. This tip is perhaps more useful for ALA, (because with 12,000 attendees probably most of the people you see on the street are librarians), but it’s true for other conferences as well. It never hurts to strike up a conversation.

3. Plan your schedule, but be flexible. This is another tip that a lot of people will stress, and so it bears repeating. Know what’s available to you, but be willing to throw your plans out the window if someone really passionately suggests you try to go to a different session.

4. Find the food! If you’re a student, you are probably on a budget. As one gentleman told me, (who was not a student, by the way), “You never have to pay for food at ALA.” Ask around to find out who is serving a free breakfast on the exhibition floor, or which vendor is hosting a free lunch. There are receptions for different interest groups most evenings, as well as other opportunities to chow down on the cheap. Ain’t no shame in an Elsevier buffet! Okay, nope, there is definitely a little shame, but depending on how tasty that buffet is….

5. Always look for scholarships, funding, and travel awards. This is more of a pre-conference tip, but it should be said! If you can find a way to attend a conference for free, you should definitely apply and try to do so. It never hurts to try, and future employers like to know that you’re thrifty, resourceful, and are capable of finding professional development opportunities that aren’t going to cost them an arm and a leg.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at ALA Annual. I would love to attend Midwinter, (and next Annual), and would absolutely encourage others to do the same.

Stress Relief at the UB Libraries

The University at Buffalo libraries treated students to “stress relief” programming last week, in the form of coffee, cookies, massages and quality time with some very friendly and adorable therapy dogs.  Running from 10am until 2pm from Tuesday through Friday, (the 1st through 4th), in both Lockwood and Abbott.  Lots of pictures can be found on the official Facebook page, and more information is available on the library blog.

Welcome back!

Hello, world!  (Yet again)

Welcome back to the blog for the student groups from the Department of Library Science in the Graduate School of Education, part of the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York.  That’s a mouthful, eh?  We’re so pleased to be reviving this blog after a too-long hiatus, and are very excited to offer our peers and colleagues fresh and new content in this upcoming 2012-2013 school year.  If you’d like to participate in this blog, please email  All content is welcome, from write-ups about classes and conferences to posts about job experiences and practicum tales.  Actual content will follow soon, (we promise), but until then, please take a peek at our archives for past information and adventures.

LIS GSA Open Forum

LIS GSA, as part of their mandate to act as advocates for the student body, held an open forum where students could express their ideas about the accreditation process, curriculum and anything else on their minds. The meeting was moderated by a SILS alum, Karen Reczek.
The forum was productive and LIS GSA would like to thank all students who participated in the forum and emailed us with questions and suggestions.
The next step will be to take these ideas and create a document. The document will be presented to the faculty to which we are asking for a written response. We have included our goals and outcomes for your perusal. We will keep you updated.

LIS GSA Open Forum Goals
LIS GSA seeks to create a safe space in which students can express their ideas about: the Department’s continued growth, the involvement with the Graduate School of Education, and the American Library Association Accreditation process.  LIS GSA will create this space to ensure that students’ opinions, ideas, and concerns are heard and formerly recorded.

Expected Outcomes
LIS GSA will create a working document from these discussions.  This document will contain student opinions as well as constructive ideas of how to create and implement these programs and suggestions.  LIS GSA wil submit this document to LIS Council and request a written reply which should include identified next steps such as any recommended actions or other response needed.

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Hello Online Class, Goodbye World!

By Anna Gossin

I don’t get out much anymore. I’m not one of those people who choose to not go anywhere. When your life revolves around school, like mine currently does, and 75% of your classes are online, your options for human contact are restricted. I’m stuck at a computer staring at a UBLearns screen for what has to be the zillionth time in the course of ten semesters at UB, and I want out.

It’s easy to see the benefits of an online learning community in a constantly changing technological wasteland, but it has ramifications. I think I’m slowly forgetting how to interact with people and how to participate in class without clicking a mouse. I’m going to be one of those people who run around the Lockwood basement for fun. Oh, wait, too late. Remember the last time I had to do some routine homework? I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, especially if the cage monsters try to eat you.

What can I do with myself? My only friends are the MARC websites that tell me what I’m doing wrong, the discussion boards, and the 568 wiki. Whatever will I do for human contact? How am I supposed to function in a society that expects more from me than “yes, you need an MLS to be a librarian” or “did you do your discussion posts this week?”

I’m slowly turning into the MLS-Bot. How should I fix this? Reading the books in the lounge won’t help because no one wants an outdated robot. I’m going to need a new set of catchphrases and programming that doesn’t have a MARC listing. Anyone up for the challenge can find me on UBLearns at all hours of the night. I’ll need to be taken outside immediately to see if it worked. If not, then it may be necessary to completely revamp my Plan of Study.

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SLAWNY Works With Student to Build Network

by Kelly Kroese

We are very excited to announce the creation of the UB SLMS Student Network! The SSN functions primarily to connect SLMS students with their peers so that we have a place to go with our 524 concerns or 568 questions, as well as anything else!

We also hope to continue reaching out to the other departments in the GSE, and are pleased to be working with the Simmons-Elliott Educational Center on their SDAR outreach program.

Please sign up online at!

UB SSN is also your connection to SLAWNY, our local chapter of NYLA-SLMS. We are looking forward to working with SLAWNY to establish the first professional-student mentorship program! SLAWNY volunteer members have agreed to mentor students as part of our student SLAWNY membership. You must be a member of SLAWNY to get a mentor, and they will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis, so sign up today!

SLAWNY will be hosting their annual professional development workshop on March 21st. This year’s special guest is Stephen Krashen, linguistics expert and author of numerous books. He will talk about how to get students reading. The cost for the event is $20. More information is available at

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Let the Search Begin!

By Marisa Dabney

The Special Libraries Association at Buffalo (SLAB) hosted guest speaker Rachel Singer Gordon in an effort to education future librarians of alternative careers in librarianship. Rachel Singer Gordon writes articles for Library Journal and regularly publishes on evolving trends in library and information science.

Her newest book, What’s the Alternative? Career Options for Librarians and Info Pros (ITI 2008) details the exciting various careers that are open to individuals with a library science degree. Gordon is also the webmaster for job posting site, and author of the blog Beyond the Job. This was Gordon’s first trip to Western New York.

If you were unable to make it to this guest speaker event do not panic, a podcast version of the event is available for University at Buffalo students. The podcast is hosted on the SLAB website at

You can also check out Rachel Singer Gordon’s blog ( which gives job search tips and links to various fellowship applications.

Even if you are a first year student it would behoove you to start looking into various library career possibilities now. How can you start? It is simple. Sign up for the LIS JOB listserv ( Take a look at the postings of jobs that interest you to find out what experience and qualities they are looking for in applicants. You can use your time here at UB to gain those skills and get the experience you need to get the job you want.

Also look into fellowships. Many of which are posted on the LIS website ( You can also find an extensive list of fellowships and scholarships at Rachel Singer Gordon’s blog mentioned above.

Most importantly join the various library student associations. SLAB for example is a student organization here at UB that helps put you in contact with local special librarians, arranges visits to different libraries such as news libraries, and gives you information on how to join the Special Library Association and take part in conferences at discounted rates. Participating in student groups expands your classroom based education with hands on real world guidance and experience that will make you the best candidate for any library job.
Good Luck!

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ALA Prepares for Busy Semester

By Janee Dabney

UB-ALA kicked off the spring semester with a sweet event. On February 11th our student group held a Bake Sale in the Baldy Common area. Sara Sinden, an LIS student, graciously delved out the delicious treats prepared by UB-ALA members as well as LIS students.

The popular Get Shelved t-shirts are still available for $10 each, and a new design contest is now underway. UB-ALA has decided to sell tote bags and would like a creative new design to adorn them. Design submissions can be e-mailed to The contest will be publicized through out the next few weeks.

UB-ALA will once again host a Wine and Cheese Soiree on Friday, February 27th. Space is limited so visit our blog for more details and information. The event promotes professional development as topics in librarianship are discussed. This semester our group would also like to hold another Professional Development event on campus for LIS students. Advocacy, networking, and re-location have been discussed as topics for the event. You can send your suggestions to us at or post to our blog at

UB-ALA has created a team for Relay for Life, March 21-22 at the Alumni Arena. The event will be from 4pm-6am. Our team is the Librarians for Life and we are looking for team captains. The team can be no larger than 15 people and the cost to participate is $10, so come join us for some relay fun, future librarian style.
While the website is redesigned, the UB-ALA blog will now serve as the web site for our student group. Other events and activities for this semester can be found on the blog. Feel free to contact us with your questions or concerns.

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LIS GSA Chock Full O’ Events!

By Lina Terjesen

LIS GSA began the semester with a Happy Hour at Jack’s Place on February 12th. This semester, the group has many more events planned for your enjoyment. Among them is ice skating at the Rotary Rink in downtown Buffalo on February 28, a lounge event as soon as the student lounge is open, a Rochester Happy Hour (or 2), bowling night, and a year-end celebration. Stay tuned to the listserv and the Events Calendar for specific times and dates of these events.
LIS GSA held an open forum for students to share their thoughts about the department, faculty, accreditation and anything else LIS-related that may be on your mind. Karen Reczek, a SILS alum, moderated and will aid LIS GSA in creating a document to repsent to the faculty. The document and faculty response will be posted to the list serv.
As a gentle reminder, LIS GSA has a policy in place that states that conference funding requests are submitted by the 15th of the month prior to the conference.

All are invited to the next open LIS GSA meeting on Thursday, March 5th at 5:15pm. Location is TBA.

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