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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 slabuffalo@gmail.com.  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.

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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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 ubstudentala@gmail.com. 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 ubstudentala@gmail.com or post to our blog at http://www.ubstudentala.wordpress.com.

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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Welcome back!

Welcome back to returning students and a hearty welcome to the program for new students!

UB DLIS ISBN (Interesting student blog and news) is a newsletter compiled once a month by the student groups within the department. Each month, a member from ALA, LIS GSA, SLA, SLAWNY, and RASL (dizzy yet?) contributes an article to the newsletter about what his or her club has done and is planning for the next month. A one stop shop, if you will, for where to get your club activities information.

We also accept articles about daily student life–scary basements in Lockwood or strange reading in the lounge–and reviews about films with librarians in them. Please see Submission Guidelines for more information if you would like to submit an article to the ISBN.

You can also read our past issues here in PDF form.

A helpful one to look at it would be the September/October 2008 issue. Faculty members wrote profiles about themselves and their work, which we published to serve as an introduction for students, especially those who are practicum or adviser hunting.

Please email us at ubdlisisbn@gmail.com with any questions or submissions. Or you can comment right here!

Journey to the Center of the Lockwood Basement

by Anna Gossin

It was a not so dark and stormy Saturday morning when I wandered back into Lockwood Library. I had an assignment to complete for LIS505, and needed a book. Yes, I suppose that’s a given on certain days. This book was about library science. Again, that seems obvious when you think about it. I needed a book on intellectual freedom and I needed it then. I don’t need it as much now, but at the time, my entire GPA depended on it. This meant journeying into a previously undiscovered territory: the infamous Lockwood Basement.

Whoever decided that library science books deserved the letter Z obviously has never been to Lockwood Library. Z gets the distinction of being the last letter of the alphabet and the last section of the library. This means that all of our books are in the basement, next to the juvenile section and some random textbooks. If someone desperately needs a library bound copy of the latest Harry Potter, they now know where to look. No one should ever go into the basement alone, and certainly not on a Saturday morning.

I’ll get right to the point: That basement is creepy. Things squeak even when the floor is deserted. The cages of old books just scream out “Enter At Your Own Risk” even without a sign. I know these are stacks, the stenciled sign doesn’t need to tell me that. What’s going to happen when I want some obscure dissertation from 1987? Am I going to get sucked into the pages, never to be seen again? Here’s how to keep this from happening. Never go to the basement alone on a weekend. Simple, right? I should hope so. After all, it was our stellar common sense skills that got us into library school in the first place, right? Maybe. Get back to me on that one, but not from inside the cages.

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Pregunta De Semana

How much do you use the list-serv? Do you get it in regular or digest form?

Do you INTENSELY DISLIKE THE LIST SERV?

Tell us your feelings (or thoughts) about it.

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Question Time!!

Time for some fun.

Finals are coming up and stress is in the air.

What are some things you like to do to relieve the stress during finals time?

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