PLA Blog: volunteering and vendors: the exhibit hall

March 27, 2010

Portions of this post were originally written for the PLA Blog. ALA holds the copyright to this text; it is reproduced here with permission.

Yesterday I volunteered at the PLA Membership Booth between the first and second sessions of the day. It was a lot of fun and a nice way to just chat with people who came by. There was one librarian from Chicago who said she was so happy to see young people entering the profession who were passionate about the issues we stand for and we got into a great conversation about literacy and libraries.

I also answered a lot of questions and it just struck me as funny that I was playing reference librarian to a convention of librarians. Just like at the reference desk, most of the questions I fielded were directional and ready reference inquiries: the ALA Store is right over there under the giant hanging sign that says “ALA Bookstore.” Yes, I can look up where that publisher is and yes you can use the conference program to decide what session you’re going to and yes you may look at this map and yes you may take anything on this table and yes I know where the first aid station is and yes I’d be happy to pass along to the higher-ups that you’re loving this conference. Even we the information professionals need a little help sometimes!

I also spent a fair amount of time on Thursday and Friday cruising around the exhibit hall checking out the different vendors and publishers and other groups. Since I’m not in a position to buy anything for a library right now, I wasn’t of much interest to most of the vendors, but I did have a long and helpful conversation with the rep from Lifelong Education @ Desktop (LE@D). They provide online continuing education classes for cheap–and if you’re a resident of a member state like Indiana, you may even have the cost of your classes subsidized by your state library. The rep mentioned that most librarians seem to wind up in management almost on accident, so it’s important to develop your leadership skills all along your career so you’re prepared. She was very friendly and very helpful and I’m definitely going to keep their classes in mind after I’ve graduated.

One of the other long conversations I had in the exhibit hall was with the reps from Bluewater Productions–you may know them as the publishers of (among other things) the Female Force comics highlighting women in politics, Stephanie Meyer, and JK Rowling. Graphic novels and comics have so long been a “boy thing,” so I’m glad to see publishers opening up content to appeal to a wider audience. I wanted to know, though, if this was a women-driven initiative, so I asked the guys at the booth if they had female writers and illustrators and inkers (they do, and they’re recruiting more) and if any of the executives of Bluewater were women (half of them are). I picked up a couple of their comics and I’m looking forward to looking them over in more detail. I’m also interested in checking out Girl Comics, part of Marvel’s “Marvel Women” project; the first issue came out earlier this month.

My first conference was ALA Annual last year and I found the exhibit hall there with its roving throngs of librarians, massive vendor displays, and general warehouse proportions kind of overwhelming. The exhibit hall at PLA was a lot more manageable. I also really enjoyed being able to help and connect with librarians who visited the PLA booth–I’d highly recommend volunteering for that at the next conference you attend.

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  • 1. Librarified » Full-&hellip  |  April 28, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    […] Volunteering and Vendors: the Exhibit Hall: my hour at the PLA booth and the results of some conversations I had with two specific vendors […]

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