Maine Library Association Annual Conference

Another MLA annual conference is in the record books, and I for one am very glad to have emerged from the other side. I go to a fair number of conferences each year, but I only actually take part in running one. This one. And it’s made me appreciate how much work goes into a successful conference. There’s a ton of moving parts, and staying on top of all of them can be dizzying.

This year’s conference was a great success, I think. We had a record turnout (183, which was 60 more than we had last year). We were at a new location (Sunday River, a ski resort in western Maine), and everyone seemed to like the new digs a lot. (With the exception of temperature, which was kind of toasty the first day.) The keynotes were a great success, we had a large variety of programming, the food was great, and we had plenty of exhibitors on hand to show off their latest and greatest to attendees.

What all goes into a conference? Tons. Weekly meetings that stretch back to February. Discussions about what to have for a theme, what kind of programming tracks to have, who to invite as keynotes, when to have it, where to have it, what to eat, what to charge, how to promote it, how to lay out the program, what kind of freebies to offer.

Each and every decision needs to be weighed and deliberated and ultimately made. You’re going to make some good decisions and some bad decisions. Would I have changed anything about this year’s conference? Sure. I would have asked Sunday River to have a coat rack on hand, for one thing. That seems like a little thing, but when lots of people are asking the same thing, it all can add up.

There are other things I’d tweak as well, but overall, I’m really pleased with the whole thing. (And I’m *really* pleased that it’s over.) At this point, I’m looking forward to doing other things for a while and taking a break from all those decisions and plans.

A huge thanks to all who took part in the planning, but also to all who came. We can plan all we want, but if no one shows up, then what in the world was the use of it all? And thanks to all who presented. That can be tough to do, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience doing it. Really, from the beginning to the end, the conference was lovely. Here are a few highlights:

  • Playing a rousing game of Battlestar Galactica in the foyer of the conference wing. The humans (my side) lost, but we made a valiant effort. And we got to be poked fun at by the state librarian, who I really think was just jealous that he hadn’t thought of board gaming in the foyer first.
  • Dan Wells’ talk on dystopias will stay with me for a while, especially his observation that we live in a dystopia and have for years. We just don’t think of it all the time because we live in District One (to reference Hunger Games)
  • David Lankes’ talk on information vs. data. vs. knowledge was also thought provoking and challenging. Just what I want from a great librarian keynote.
  • Working throughout the weekend with some of my best work friends ever. I spend a lot of time with my presidency and MLA comrades in arms, and even though it’s stressful, I really don’t think I could be with a better group to help me get through it. We work hard, but we have fun.
  • Waking up at 4:45am to take Dan Wells to the airport was a reminder to me that humans aren’t supposed to wake up at 4:45. For anything. They’re certainly not supposed to function for an entire conference day the whole day after doing that. Apologies to anyone I said anything stupid to yesterday. I was not in my right mind.
  • Reminding myself just how much I don’t like eating too much sugar. It’s about all that got me through the conference, but I’m paying the price now. Just in time for Disney food coming up . . .

There’s a ton of things I could rattle off, but I’m behind at work and need to cut things off here. Thanks again to everyone, and I look forward to doing it all again(!) a year from now.

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