The very first conference I ever attended was my state conference, FAME (Florida Association for Media in Education) back in 2010. I was a brand new librarian and soaked up all the new information, ideas, and connections. It only took one conference to get me hooked. Since then, I’ve attended and presented at conferences all over North America, including ISTE, FETC, AASL, and more. But I still go back to my state conference every year, because I consider it a vital part of my profession.
Why We Need to Be Attending Our State Conference
You might be someone who’s lucky enough to have a district that funds you to go to national conferences. Or you might be in a district where you’re struggling just to get permission to leave for a few days of professional development. But wherever you’re at, it’s vital to do your best to make it to your state conference. Here’s three reasons why you should be there:
Connecting with other school librarians from your state
There is something powerful in meeting and connecting with other people in the same position in their schools as you that are only a few hours away from you. While I love all my Twitterverse and blogosphere friends, going to my state conference is kind of like a big family reunion. It’s also a great place to make those connections that can give you the courage to try out new ideas. I’ve had several of my friends from FAME come visit my makerspace so that they can see one in action. And I’ve driven over to other counties in the state to see my friends libraries and share with their districts.
A space for sharing your voice
Presenting at a big conference can often seem really intimidating. State conferences give you a safe place to share your voice. A poster session or idea-sharing session can be a great way to get your feet wet and try out presenting. There’s also often focus groups or committees where you can share your ideas and have an impact on your organization.
Getting equipped with resources for advocacy
While national advocacy for school libraries is definitely critical, a lot of very important advocacy happens at the state level. At your state conference, you can keep up to date with the legislation that will directly affect your school. And you can get equipped with the tools and resources that you need to advocate at the local level. At this year’s conference, I learned more about our Florida Power Library program and what a great advocacy tool it can be.
Do you attend your state library conference? How has it impacted you professionally?
Author: Diana Rendina
Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory, an independent 6-12 school. She was previously the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog RenovatedLearning.com & is also a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and learning space design and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace and is the author of Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.