ALA Anaheim 2008 Experience
By Cindi Blaschke
While attending my last semester at Louisiana State University (LSU), an opportunity for a student to attend the 2008 American Library Association (ALA) Anaheim conference was posted on the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) listserv. All one had to do was complete the application and forms from the ALA website.
I did not know too much about all the roundtables within the ALA, other than that they were composed of a huge con-glomeration of acronyms that were difficult to pronounce. But when I researched further about this roundtable with the acronym FAFLRT - the Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Round Table - I thought it would provide a great match for the career and educational experiences in my background.
The previous year, another LSU student had been selected as an awards recipient for this round table. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be terrific if an LSU student were selected this year, also?” In addition, this would also be my last opportunity as a student to compete for any awards or scholarships.
I was so excited when I was notified by the awards committee that I was selected as the conference attendee! I would have an incredible opportunity to meet and network with other library professionals in the federal arena, and develop lifelong professional relationships which could provide leads to federal library positions.
I began my Anaheim experience on June 27 by attending the afternoon segment of the “Careers in Federal Libraries”, sponsored by LSU. I was fortunate to attend the interviewing section of the session. Speakers, as well as participants, provided many excellent suggestions for individuals that are pursuing employment but focused specifically on the federal employment aspects. At the breaks, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to other federal librarians, and discuss their experience with employment as a federal librarian.
Immediately following “Careers in Federal Libraries” was the FAFLRT Awards ceremony. I was honored to meet Mr. Robert Schnare, Jr., Director of the Naval War College Library in Newport, Rhode Island, who was selected as the FAFLRT Distinguished Service Award recipient, “for his outstanding and sustained contributions to FAFLRT” ( http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/rts/faflrt/initiatives/index.cfm ).
On Sunday, June 29, FAFLRT scheduled back-to-back sessions during the entire day. Sessions were located in meeting rooms within close proximity to one another in the Anaheim Convention Center which made it very convenient for attendees. In fact, Sunday’s ALA Cognotes featured articles on FAFLRT sponsored sessions on Government 2.0 applications and providing information services to Members of Congress.
While in attendance at the FAFLRT Board and general membership meeting, I was able to view the members of the board and roundtable in action. Lively discussions among the board included policymaking, budget, and ideas for promoting the FAFLRT. The general meeting was well attended by FAFLRT members as well as individuals with an interest in learning more about this section.
During the “State of Federal Libraries” session, attendees shared their unique experiences at their federal libraries. Participants at this session included FAFLRT members, as well as individuals with an interest in the current status of federal libraries. What I discovered by attending this session, is that librarians overall have very global issues, regardless of their organization or agency, whether it is a federal agency, or public, academic, or special library setting.
You can see the presentations from FAFLRT events at the 2008 ALA Annual Conference on Slideshare ( http://www.slideshare.net/tag/faflrt).
One of the highlights of the Anaheim conference was the Camp Pendleton Tour, on Monday June 30, sponsored by FAFLRT. Participants included librarians from all over the US, as well as Europe and Australia. Many of the tour participants had very specific reasons for participating in this event, including myself. My brother had been stationed at Pendleton during his tour of duty. Many others on the tour also had family members stationed at this base. Other participants were interested in seeing the pristine landscape and flora of southern California or the architecture of the base.
The itinerary included a tour of the Camp Pendleton Main Library on the 250 square 2009mile base. During the afternoon, we went on a tour of the World War II and Korea LVT Museum and the Assault Amphibious School, where we were provided a demon-stration of the assault vehicles currently utilized in the Iraq War.
To close out the conference experience, I attended the FAFLRT information session on June 30, held in the Exhibits Hall at the ALA Member Pavilion. During this presentation, I was able to learn more about this section and the types of federal librarianship, including special, academic and medical libraries, which this round table supports.
I left the 2008 conference with a fresh perspective on the opportunities that would be available to me within the federal arena. This ALA experience broadened my knowledge of the world of federal librarianship opportunities. It provided me the opportunity of meeting and conversing with professionals in the federal arena, and to have a glimpse of their duties. This experience furthered my desire to be among the ranks of these information professionals.
Thanks to Nancy Faget, FAFLRT president and LSU SLIS graduate, for posting the scholarship announcement on the SLIS listserv. I would like to thank the FAFLRT awards committees for selecting me for this award. I want to thank Dr. Michelyn McKnight from the School of Library and Information Science at LSU for recommending me for this award. I would also like to thank Suzanne Martin, Fletcher Technical Community College Head Librarian, for encouraging me to pursue the MLIS, as well as scholarships that are available.
I encourage all library students to apply for the FAFLRT scholarships and awards while in pursuit of their degree. These opportunities will broaden their knowledge of the profession, and allow them to meet and network with other library professionals in the federal arena, and develop lifelong professional relationships during their careers.