The dates for this year's NCSLMA's annual conference have been on the books forever, but it wasn't until tonight that I started to really get excited about this year's event.
In part, this is because the schedule of sessions was just released today and it is AMAZING. Not only are there some great people presenting (including the fantabulous Gwyneth Jones as our keynote speaker), but the presentations themselves look meaty and relevant in today's school library environment/education climate. For me, THIS is just what the doctor ordered. As I head into a year in which the expectations for my contribution and impact are higher than ever, but the support I receive (financially and otherwise) is at its lowest point on record, my professional soul is starving for camaraderie and nourishment. It's early enough in the year that I'm still energized and excited, but I need to feed off the combined strength of my colleagues to keep the momentum going. Seriously, I need this. And I suspect I'm not alone.
My excitement also stems from the fact that this event will mark the official unveiling of NCSLMA's new website, which I designed and co-created with an uber-fabulous colleague and friend (who really needs a library blog so I can link to it). This Extreme Makeover: Website Edition came about because our long-time webmaster decided to step down from the position and, simply put, nobody else stepped up to the plate. So, in the spirit of turning lemons into lemonade, we decided to ignore the fact that we both already have entirely too much to do and create the website of our dreams. That is to say, one that was still packed with all the great info our old site had, but that also offers spaces for professional learning, collaboration and member contribution. There's still a long way to go, but the foundation is pretty much finished and we went "live" a few nights ago. The reaction has been wonderfully positive, but now I'm chomping at the bit to add the final and most important touch: the contributions of our members. What I want most is for this to become a dynamic and living resource where librarians from across the state share and grow as a result of our combined knowledge and strength.
If there's one thing I know for certain, it's that now, more than ever, we need each other. Together, we are stronger and better than even the very best of us is alone. Conference and, hopefully, our website are opportunities for us to lean on, learn from and grow as a result of our combined knowledge, enthusiasm and strength. Every day, I am grateful for the opportunities I have to connect with my friends in library land, whether it's through twitter, this blog or face to face, I'm convinced that THAT connection is the key to my success - or at least longevity. And listen, I know... times are tough and monies for professional development are pretty much non-existent. Still, I deeply hope that everyone reading this will make professional development and connecting with colleagues a priority this year. It's times like this in which that connection is most important.
And if you're in NC, get your hiney to conference. Seriously.