Now we are home from a two and one-half day conference, Creating Futures Through Technology, held at the Beau Rivage in Gulfport, MS. 2011 was the 15th year for this event, billed as “Mississippi’s Largest Higher Educational Conference.” First, let me say, it was an excellently run conference.
Material provided about session topics and locations was thorough, conference staff were visible and helpful. Exhibitors displayed some amazing products (which had everyone drooling but commenting realistically about funding cuts — thankyouverymuch Gov. Barbour and Mississippi Senators). Vendors supported the morning and noon meals, as well as the breaks. It was delightful to have hot coffee and cold soft drinks available between sessions, and to have a breakfast waiting at the top of the escalator each morning was a real time-saver. It also provided time to socialize and network that wouldn’t happen in groups of four or more or less in the restaurant.
I’ve only been in my current institution a year and a half, and outside my campus I know practically no one other than library personnel. (Even on my campus I don’t know many people outside our building unless they are frequent library users.) There were a handful of the 400+ attendees I know well enough to speak to, and another handful I recognized. I do believe I was one of only two librarians in attendance, and so to say I felt a little out-of-place — even though the topics were quite interesting and helpful to me personally — would be an understatement. I don’t doubt that some attendees would feel I had no need to be at the conference at all: I’m not a teacher; I’m not in IT.
Technically, my position is as an administrator, but like many academic librarians who are faculty (but don’t always teach in the classroom), I’m also an instructor. The most obvious of this instruction occurs in the form of our library orientations for literature, composition, speech, and history classes. More common, however, is the one-to-one instruction which happens throughout my day, every day, not only with students, but with staff and faculty. I came away from my 2.5 days wishing that all faculty and administration realized how helpful the librarians could be if incorporated into the learning management system (LMS, a new acronym for me).
Perhaps there is a future presentation in that final statement…
Over the next few days, I’ll round up the tools and information from my session notes, talk about the presenters who impressed me, and reflect a bit more on the event.