Last month I was lucky enough to attend the 2014 ALSC National Institute in Oakland, California thanks to a generous scholarship awarded to me by the Friends of ALSC. I am so grateful for the time spent at the Institute last month and would like to thank the Friends for enabling me to participate in such a stellar weekend of learning and fun. And a huge thanks to everyone at ALSC who worked hard to put together the Institute!
Some of my favorite moments from the Institute have to be the wonderful author presentations and panels, especially the hilarious author panel that took place at Children’s Fairyland with Jennifer Holmes, Daniel Handler and Mac Barnett. The crowd was filled with giggling librarians and even a few fairy wings! After our breakout sessions at the park, a reception awaited us in the Emerald City. There was even a yellow brick road! I excitedly stood in a lengthy line so Barnett and Handler could sign some favorite books for me. It was well worth the wait (and the cost to ship my book haul back to Ohio!). I also loved the Closing General Session, during which Andrea Davis Pinkney presented on her work and even sang a bit. She was so energetic and inspiring, truly closing the 2014 Institute with a high note.
I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of which I found myself navigating the conference center. I have attended two ALA Annual Conferences and I have yet to not find myself, at least once, mildly lost in a massive conference center trying to find a workshop. It was so great to be able to attend a workshop, drop off handouts in my hotel room and then make it back for another workshop session without getting lost or feeling rushed. This might seem trivial, but it made an impression for me!
I was especially impressed with the wealth of relevant workshop topics available throughout the Institute. Some of my favorite workshops were “Be a Winner! Inspired Youth Grant Writing”, “Tech Access on a Budget” and “Summer Lunch at the Library”. Each of these workshops offered me incredibly practical information and insight that I brought back to my library to share with administration and fellow librarians. I feel confident that our 2015 summer lunch program will be more successful than last year’s because of what I learned at the ALSC Institute. I returned to Ohio knowing that other librarians struggle with shoestring technology budgets and there are various routes to find grant funding.
In addition to the great learning and networking opportunities at the Institute, I was happy to spend some time exploring the neighborhood and even managed to squeeze in time for sleep (a sometimes difficult endeavor!). A wonderful farmer’s market was happening in the neighborhood adjacent to the conference center and I spent my lunch hour meandering the stalls and munching on delicious shrimp tacos.
I would highly recommend any librarians with an interest in serving youth to attend the next ALSC Institute. You won’t regret it! I would also encourage anyone who might be deterred by travel costs and registration fees to apply for the Friends of ALSC Scholarship. I applied rather humbly not expecting to win, and here I am writing my very own recap as a scholarship winner. The next recipient could be you!
Nicole Lee Martin is a librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library and a 2014 Friends of ALSC Scholarship recipient. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .