ILA – My first state library conference!

Last week I traveled to Chicago for my very first state-level library conference: the Ignite! Illinois Library Association 2013 Annual Conference. Held on Navy Pier, the conference offered an entirely different set of opportunities and information than ALA Annual did back in June. While I was only able to attend for 1.5 of the 3 days of the conference, I was able to pack my schedule with a variety of interesting programs!

Here are some of my favorite things, differences I noticed from ALA Annual, and general observations:

  • There are far fewer academic librarians at state-level conferences (at least in Illinois). While it was interesting to get so many public library perspectives, I sometimes felt a bit out of place (as someone who works at an academic library and hopes to continue doing so in the future).
  • Librarians are still the coolest! I remember thinking at ALA: “Wow, everyone here is so lovely and upbeat and interested in library things! This is the best!” The same held true at ILA; lots of positivity, even when discussing hard topics (e.g. budget issues, troublesome patrons, etc.).
  • On that note, the keynote speaker was very positive and uplifting… but interestingly, not a librarian. She had a lot of neat points and related them to libraries here and there, but it was strange that the keynote address was less library/issues-based and more feelings-based…
Opening session speaker Dawn Mushill
  • The food was better! There was so much more free food at ILA than there was at ALA! Yay for free food on a grad student budget!
  • The inside of Navy Pier is gorgeous. For the semester that I lived in Chicago I never actually went inside any of the pier buildings, but the giant ballroom in particular is lovely.
Navy Pier Ballroom

Overall I had a very lovely time; it was great to tackle library issues and ideas on a more specific, local level and to hear about experiences and efforts in Illinois libraries. Would definitely recommend a state-level conference to any library student!


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