In November I had to prepare my AY15 budget. Yes, you read that correctly: November 2013. The budget won’t be finalized for several months yet, but it was an instructive exercize to consider what I’d be spending the school’s money on from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. What was the proper amount for print resources (books and periodicals)? Which databases were we going to keep? Could I build in some fudge money so if a great new database came along we’d have the ability to purchase it in AY15, not AY16?
One line item gave me real pause: the professional training/conferences line. A number of years ago, Doug wrote a great post about his expectations for presenters. Now, in my nearly two decades of doing this school librarian thing, I’ve only had real support for my conference going for eight of those years and even then I was careful to only have the school pay for registration, transportation (if I didn’t drive) and the hotel, plus shipping of books/materials back to school – meals and other stuff were on me. In part it’s because I didn’t want to take advantage, but in part it’s because I truly believe that having some skin in the game is important. So as I prepared my budget, I thought about the upcoming year’s conferences and which I might want to attend. It’s not like I’m starved for choice: ALA Annual and Midwinter, YALSA’s Literature Symposium, AASL’s Fall Forum, SLJ’s Leadership Summit, NECC, NCTE/ALAN, NYSAIS’ NEIT Conference and many more. The question for me is, “which experience will give my school (and me) the biggest bang for our bucks?”
The Little Professor has a post about attending MLA that I think has great application for ALA (and divisions). While some may argue that 3000 (AASL13) vs 25000 (ALA Annual, average) is manageable, the question about the types of presentations arises. I like to stray outside the box, seeing what other divisions are up to and learning from them because there’s often a lot I can apply to my situation. The Literature Symposium vs NCTE/ALAN is another conundrum, because they’re very different experiences. As I work more with training teachers and students on technology, would missing ALA Annual in favor of NECC be the better choice (although here, again, there’s a scale issue)?
So many questions to answer, and in November 2013 I have no idea what the answer was going to be come registration time in late 2014. Where will you be putting your money?