Apart from training courses, the only library events I’ve ever attended are Umbrella in 2007 and the Library and Information History Group (LIHG) AGM in 2009 (?).
I remember enjoying both events very much, but as both of them were quite a few years ago now, I don’t really remember much else about them, although I did write a blog post about Umbrella, which you can read on this blog, if you want to. I remember spending most of Umbrella feeling quite lost, as I didn’t know anyone else there apart from my Head of Library Services, who was busy talking to lots of other people. My networking skills were, and are, not amazing.
I made copious notes at the LIHG AGM, but the only thing I really remember about it was how fascinating everyone’s presentations were. It made me want to do more research. I’d done a library history-related dissertation for my MSc., and the conference inspired me to try and make my dissertation into an article for Library & Information History but I never got round to it.
I’ve never been all that good at engaging at public events, particularly ones where I don’t know anyone, so I don’t think I ever asked any questions or anything at Umbrella or the LIHG AGM. I have got a bit better at speaking up in staff events at my own workplace, which is something.
I’d like to attend Umbrella again, but there is very little funding available for staff development from my work, and I don’t think they would be willing to let me go to Umbrella, as it’s not directly relevant to my work, and I’ve been before. I think I only got to go before because I was doing my chartership!
Do what I didn’t do, and engage more! I know this is easier said than done, especially if you’re among a load of people you don’t know at a massive conference like Umbrella. If you’re in touch with other LIS people on Twitter, or via an email list, this could be a way to organise a meet-up of people you at least are vaguely aware of, which might make things a bit less scary.