By Damon Campbell
The National Diversity in Libraries Conference (NDLC) took place October 1 – 4, 2008 in Louisville, KY and if you missed it, you missed out! The conference was the result of the combined efforts of the Kentucky Library Association (KLA), the South East Library Association (SELA), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).
The conference was split into three pieces: preconference, the conference itself, and post-conference. Throughout the conference, there were featured speakers and social activities that respectively promoted critical thinking about libraries and offered the chance to meet and interact with fellow attendees. The scope of the conference seemed to increasingly focus as events unfolded.
From conflict resolution to the merits of gaming in the libraries to a tour of the Village Branch of the Lexington Public Library, the NDLC preconference programming was diverse, if not directly focused on diversity. Most of the preconference programs, while broader in scale than the remainder of the conference, also came with a $25.00 per session fee.
The conference itself focused on issues of diversity in the library, both as a field and as a workplace. All of the programs and talks I attended were fascinating, whether or not they pertained directly to my work as a new librarian and library resident. Most sessions lasted about 50 minutes, though a few lasted one hour and 50 minutes. The sessions I attended all lasted 50 minutes, which I found to be sufficient enough to absorb the information presented. The 50 minute sessions also allowed attendees the chance to attend as many programs as they could. The sessions were held in different rooms in the conference area of the hotel, and generally it took no more than 10 minutes to get from one room to another.
Despite the relatively manageable session length, I found that at any time, there were 2 – 3 concurrent sessions that seemed interesting and were directly related to my position in the libraries. While mildly vexing, I think that this issue speaks to the wealth of information and stellar selection of programs at NDLC. It might be worthwhile to attend such a conference in a group and decide in advance who will attend which sessions. This way, you and your colleagues can compile the information from each session withoutworry of missing a session or having to go to half (or less) of each session as a lone attendee.
The post-conference segment of NDLC was concentrated on library residency programs. As a resident and presenter, this segment was of extreme importance to me. The post-conference offered opportunities to network with other residents and professionals involved in residency programs. The format of the post conference was forum and panel based, lending itself easily to discussions of issues in librarianship as residents and new professionals.
Overall, the conference was enjoyable and valuable from start to finish. The continually narrowing scope of the sessions offered an opportunity to learn more about topics related to libraries at large and to issues of diversity within them. The programs themselves were well thought-out and informative.
I wouldn’t hesitate to register for the next NDLC!