Not having the time to attend ARLIS/NA last year, I was determined to attend the 2016 ARLIS/NA + VRA Joint Conference in Seattle. Although I originally wanted to moderate a session on comics, I was more than happy to present my user study at the Graphic Novels Special Interest Group (of which I am currently a co-moderator) and my zine collection project at the Poster Presentations. Even with the excitement of presenting, the conference was much more than I expected.
For one, it helped put things in perspective and reaffirm my goals. Preoccupied with coursework (especially by the latter half of my program), I often lose sight of the current trends and developments in the field. The conference offered a reprieve. Sessions and workshops ranged from diversity to instruction, public programming to technical services. Some of my favorites were “Scope Drift: New Roles and Responsibilities in Visual Resources,” “E-mania! — The Present and Future of Electronic Art Publishing,” and “Connecting Social Justice to the Workplace: Issues of Diversity in Our Professional Lives.” Being able to hear from current professionals about their recent projects was refreshing since ILS courses tend to be slightly slower in adapting to the latest updates in the practicing field. I think the initiations in proactively promoting diversity, including a “Diversity Forum,” were especially encouraging as they created an open and inclusive environment.
In addition to hearing from professionals, I truly appreciated my opportunities to present to them. My Graphic Novels SIG presentation, titled “User Needs for Art Library Comic Collections,” was a success. As a first time attendee, I felt nervous as one of the new co-moderators and a presenter. My user study, however, complemented my co-moderator Tara Smith’s case study on programming very well and the attendees seemed engaged. Tara and I have discussed collaborating for a publication submission, so it was very helpful to receive constructive feedback. My poster presentation, “Developing and Promoting a New Zine Collection,” also helped me to learn how to sell my story in a condensed amount of time. I managed to meet some great professionals — some curious about starting a zine collection at their own institutions. Networking through presenting helped me feel more confident; I felt like I was exchanging ideas with peers rather than being lectured to in a class.
One of my favorite parts about ARLIS/NA + VRA 2016 was having the opportunity to forge stronger personal connections, in addition to professional connections, with people in the field. To add to my aforementioned networking, I also had the chance to travel with some great peers (fellow SALS members Kendra Werst and Vaughan Hennen), meet and have lunch with my mentor, catch up with my former supervisor/advisor/mentor Kristina Keogh, and even reconnect with the first art librarian I ever talked to about pursuing librarianship, Jill Luedke. I will absolutely be trying my hardest to attend ARLIS in New Orleans and VRA in Louisville next year.