Back when I lived in Las Vegas, I couldn’t wait for the next library conference to come around so I would have somewhere else to be, especially if it meant getting to a “real” city. One of the upsides of being in a tenure track position is that professional involvement is expected and, hopefully, a generous travel budget comes along with that expectation. That was certainly the case at my previous job, which gave me the opportunity to attend several conferences and to participate in professional organizations. Another upside to my previous life was that I was living in, what was for me, an unexplored part of the world and I got to see quite a bit of the west while I was out there.
The first conference I ever attended while based in Vegas was the 2007 National Media Market (NMM) when it was in Mesa, AZ. I had only been living in Vegas about 3 months before then and took the opportunity to drive the six or so hours which gave me my first real experience seeing the southwest beyond my new home. It was fascinating experience for someone who was a long time east coast city person.
Conference attendance gave me other opportunities to drive and explore. I drove to Anaheim, CA for the 2008 American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference and also drove to Monterey, CA once for an Internet Librarian Conference.
All in all, I’ve done quite a bit of traveling thanks to my professional involvement:
- Charlotte, NC for the Association of College and Research Libraries Conference, 2003
- Washington DC for Computers in Libraries, 2004-2006; ALA Annual Conference 2010
- Arlington, VA for Computers in Libraries, 2007-2008
- Monterey, CA for Internet Librarian, 2006-2007, 2009-2010
- Mesa, AZ for NMM, 2007
- Lexington KY, for NMM, 2008-2009
- Philadelphia, PA for ALA Midwinter Conference, 2008
- Anaheim, CA for ALA Annual Conference, 2008, 2012
- Denver, CO for ALA Midwinter Conference, 2009
- Chicago, IL for ALA Annual Conference, 2009
- Boston, MA for ALA Midwinter Conference, 2010
- San Diego, CA for ALA Midwinter Conference, 2011
- New Orleans, LA for ALA Annual Conference, 2011
- Dalas, TX for ALA Midwinter Conference, 2012
- Scranton, PA for a Northeast Chapter of the Pennsylvania Library Association workshop
- Seattle, WA for ALA Midwinter Conference, 2013
All that travel and all those opportunities have been rewarding. So much to learn. So many great people. These experiences have been much on my mind lately because my involvement in the profession at this level is changing and I’m not sure what it’s changing into.
So much of that involvement was due to my being in a tenure track position and being required to be professionally active. I’m am no longer in a tenure track position and am thankful for that for a slew of reasons but not having the financial support I once had means the days of traveling to two or three conferences a year are nearly over. My trip to Seattle was my penultimate trip for ALA. I’ll be heading back to Chicago for one last ALA conference. The next midwinter conference will be here in Philly, so I’ll be around for that, although I won’t have any official duties. My girlfriend is on ALA council and will have obligations for the conferences through annual 2014, which will be in Vegas. Although I am not a fan of Vegas the place, I am a huge fan of my Vegas friends, so I’ll tag along for that.
Within ALA, I’ve been involved with the Video Round Table for a few years. I served as the Vice Chair, Chair and Past Chair over the past three years. I also served for four years on the Notable Videos for Adults Committee, which was one of the best things I’ve been professionally involved with. That group views nominated films throughout the year and then meets at the midwinter conferences to hash out a list of recommended films. I often blogged about the films I saw over at my now on hiatus Tombrarian blog.
Now that my ALA duties are winding down and I don’t have the travel budget to keep attending national conferences regularly, I need to figure out my next big thing. As much as I’ve enjoyed all my previous traveling, it feels like good timing to ease back. Conference travel has made traveling for leisure difficult. Vacations have often been planned around where conferences would take me. I want to look into getting involved in the more local library scene. I’m in a fortunate situation in that I’m in a great location. Philadelphia has many libraries and it is in easy reach of places like New York, Boston, and Washington DC where library events are often held.
I’m not yet sure what this next thing will be, but it’s exciting to be in a position at this point in my career to be able to rethink and reevaluate what I want to be involved in.