Every year I look forward to having the opportunity to learn from experts and peers, to hear about great programs and books and ways to doing the normal library thing that are different from the way in which I’m doing them. Of course, that in person learning and sharing simply isn’t going to happen in this moment, but it does open up some other opportunities.
Opportunities like “attending” a number of publisher book buzzes that highlighted books I might not have thought of reading or ordering before. For years I’d been jealous of my NYC peers would could attend easily and now, I can do the same from the comfort of my own laptop! Opportunities like lowered (or waived) registration fees for conferences that I might not have attended because they cost too much, were too far or conflicted with work. For example, last night I started attending the NCTE conference; a very respected peer said that she’d found it more focused and “honest” than ALA’s conferences. With that as a recommendation, how could I refuse, particularly since it didn’t require travel?
However, as great as all this is, it’s the casual conversations I miss. Sometimes the best ideas are those you learn about in line, waiting for a bus or for a session to start. Those connections have led to friendships that span decades. At one conference recently another presenter shared ideas that validated what we’d independently started doing at Milton. At others I’ve gotten inspiration or solutions to places in which the program has gotten stuck.
And then there’s Zoom. Screen mediated anything is never the same as in person. On the other hand, I’d rather do this than risk COVID or not have the opportunity at all. And by the end of the year, I should be the most developed I’ve been since my graduate school days.