One of the wonderful things about conferences and retreats is the inspiration one often receives from the other attendees. If this kind of inspiration and rejuvenation comes from good friends, so much the better. For that is another benefit of getting out of your own environment, exchanging gripes and ideas, hearing about the successful and not-so-successful: meeting up with friends, new and old.

We can’t all travel to national meetings. Sometimes we can’t even travel to state meetings. But, I would encourage anyone to take a weekend and get together with one or more fellow librarians. Plan for some good food, some good conversation, and maybe plan to brainstorm a project or problem together. I will almost guarantee you will head home with a lighter heart, no matter the problems at work, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll have learned a thing or twelve, too.

This past weekend, I traveled about 280 miles to visit a young woman who is a former co-worker — and now colleague (we also attended library school together) — Erin Boyd. The primary reason for the trip was our collaboration on a poster for the upcoming American Library Association annual conference in New Orleans (June 2011). Yes, we are collaborating via the Internet and email, but we wanted some face-to-face time during the process, too.

We have both been so busy with regular work tasks and other special projects and presentations, that this poster project has just now become the top priority. Personally, I didn’t think I was prepared to begin work on the actual poster. I felt I needed to study the topics further. It took a little while, but we were soon moving forward, and though there is more work to do, we made a good start. Plus, we discovered we really were of the same mind about a lot of the content and format!

Through out the weekend though, there were these wonderful little “Ah-hah!” moments. Some were the result of simply discussing a current situation at work, others it was sharing a solution in one place that will work in another. We shared technology tools we’ve tried or heard about, discovered features in software, and just generally had fun.

I’ll say right now, I wish we still worked at the same library. For now, we’ll collaborate as often as possible, and visit whenever we can.