Townie Pride

November 20, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Rachel Carpenter was on the Conference Planning Committee for the 2015 meeting in Rhode Island.  Thank you Rachel and all the members of the CPC for putting together an excellent program. Rachel is another winner of our Professional Development Award and writes about her Townie Pride.

Townie Pride

Rachel H. Carpenter

James P. Adams Library

Rhode Island College

This year’s NAHSL Annual meeting in Providence appears to have been a great success.  Though I was on the Conference Planning Committee (CPC), I have not seen the evaluations nor heard the final numbers yet, but the pre-conference and intra-conference comments I heard and the post-conference thanks and praise to the CPC have all been quite positive.  I personally enjoyed the three plenary speakers who spoke to the core of librarianship – literacy, access, and preservation – and how vital these are to the success of the individual as well as to communities and nations alike.   I also really enjoyed the nuts. No, not Erika, Sally and the rest of the CPC, but the big bowls of mixed nuts we had during the breaks.

I imagine that all CPC folks across the NAHSL region experience the same sort of “townie” pride, or ownership, of the annual NAHSL conference when it is their year to host. I’ll admit to sometimes thinking of it as the ARISHL Conference when “we’re in charge.”  – You may or may not have noticed my homage to my own state group in my design of the conference logo. I substituted the ARIHSL association logo for one of the corner anchor stamps. It is of a map of the state of RI which contains an anchor and an open book or journal with our debut year,  1953.

RI State Map

I was responsible for the NAHSL conference webpage. The committee decided on the theme and I designed the logo in the old “postcard” style, and decided to use the NAHSL blue.  Using the NAHSL Libguides platform was ideal.  Libguides is a product that many libraries use, not to mention the state health science library groups which utilize NAHSL’s Libguides platform.  My own institution had recently converted to the Libguides version 2,  which is quite different.  Working with the Conference webpage at first, I often found myself quite confused as to why tools weren’t available, or didn’t function the way I expected them too – then I remembered,–  Ah,  Version 1.  (After all is said and done, I think I prefer Version 1.)  The wonderfully important thing for me was that all of our CPC members were familiar with Libguides or learned how to use them quickly.  Colleagues worked on their own pages and sections and I mostly monitored the site, did some editing, and assisted when asked.  I designed the webpage for the 2010 conference as well and it was so much more work for one individual though I had a good deal of help from Penny Glassman back then.  Hooray for Libguides….I think they are a good fit for the conference webpage.

The planning committee for the conference is a great group of colleagues- some of whom have planned 5 or 6 NAHSL conferences over the years as well as some who were fairly new to the process. The CPC worked well together and members worked well on their own, too. Both are important to a good team.

When the planning is done and the conference begins, the CPC members never truly become conference attendees, instead they become conference attendee “watchers.” We watch, look and listen…looking to see interest and focus on the faces of those attending the plenaries and lightening rounds;  looking for happiness in the eyes of those lined up at the food tables or eating their  meals.  We hope for smiles and worry about frowns. We encourage folks to speak to the vendors and thank the sponsors, and we do these things ourselves.  We listen intently (not nosily)  to conversations just to  hear if an attendee is looking for a room, an event, a coffee, the scholarship table  or a nice downtown walk to take.  We want to know everything the attendees need to know or at least how to find it out, because its “our conference” (and, we are librarians, after all).  Each of the state CPCs work very hard to present a valuable and memorable conference experience, in their own backyards, for everyone.

This is a nice facet of the NAHSL conferences. By moving about the region, each local association gets to “treat” everyone else;   to show off, be hospitable, be on their toes, be responsible, sweat-it-out, and then for the next few years they can revert back to being socially, intellectually and professionally pampered by their neighbors and friends.  I realize this rotating structure may change some day, but in the meantime, and for all the years it has been in place, it has worked well by nurturing good neighbors and supporting an excellent regional association.

 

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