There are few occasions in one’s career that are ground-breaking. Being selected to represent Wayne State University (WSU) as a Student-to-Staff (S2S) at ALA’s Annual Conference was such an occasion for me. Between June 21-26, I partook in my first conference as an information science student at New Orleans. I was surprised that some ALA members did not know about the S2S program. Briefly, the program was designed in 1973 as an opportunity for students to network and interact with professionals in the field. I was assigned to the International Relations Office (IRO), a division of ALA, devoted to global communities and libraries. The choice was serendipitous since I am of Lebanese descent, who has her roots in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and lives in Dearborn, Michigan.
Left to right, Natalia Holtzman, Stephanie Duchin, Korey Erickson, Erin Larson, ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo, Jaimie Albanese, and Shatha Baydoun at the the international visitors reception, 2018 ALA Annual Conference, New Orleans, Monday, June 25
True to its mission, my experience with the S2S program was very positive and productive. At times, the sheer breadth and size of the Conference was overwhelming, but the adage about librarians being a helpful bunch is true. I was supported, mentored, and directed by all the wonderful librarians at the conference who were happy to welcome a recently-graduated librarian to the fold.
Despite my short trip, I saw and met amazing people. I witnessed Michelle Obama officially open the ALA ceremony and I met the newly-elected ALA president Loida Garcia-Febo who was very kind. I also attended the Job Placement workshops that are sponsored by ALA such as those on salary-negotiation and resume-writing. As a newly graduated MIS student, I found these workshops useful.
On a personal note, I got to savor New Orleans’ local flavor such as chicory coffee and the famous beignets at Café du Monde. I also got to party with my S2S fellow students and made lifelong friends. I learnt much professionally, but had tons of fun in the process. Lastly, I want to personally thank the two people who made all this possible. In every possible way, Don Wood and Delin Guerra were graciously welcoming.