One of the very cool things coming out of the LSW these days is a crowdsourced “book” consisting of blog posts about “librarianship by walking around” that will be put together at some point in the future. My contribution to this effort is this post about “walking around” to non-librarian conferences and how we can spread the message of our libraries far and wide using this technique. Enjoy!
Every other year or so, I attend the National Association of Government Webmasters (NAGW) meeting. This is a national get-together of folks who do the websites for government entities across the board – from city webmasters to major governmental agency webmasters, there is representation of all kinds of government folks at this conference. Because libraries and government agencies have some points in common (namely tax-funded and non-profit status), it seemed a natural fit for me to take my message of “what libraries can do for you” to this conference (and get some information about upcoming trends and such for my job, too!). I’ve had the opportunity to talk to people in government jobs who have no idea what kind of support they can get from their local public libraries – from databases of information to special collections to Internet access for their clients, we can provide a helping hand to government folks. And, of course, the opposite is true – I’ve learned of ways that government agencies can help libraries as well. NAGW isn’t the only conference I’ve “walked” though – there are a bunch out there that might have something to do with your job but nothing to do with libraries. I’ve attended social media for government conferences and an XML conference and others that are less library-focused and more job-focused and at each of them, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with people from other parts of the working world who had no idea what libraries could do for them.
Most of the time, attending library conferences is an excellent way to network and get information about the current issues in libraryland. Occasionally, though, it’s nice to step away and see what others are doing – and tell them what you are doing. At both of the last two NAGW conferences I attended (and at the last Social Media for Government and the XML conf) I presented – this helps both with the cost of attending the conference and by making me a more visible target to those in the group who would like to know more about libraries. Presenting, even about topics that aren’t specifically library-related, gives you – and your library – the chance to shine! So many people have no idea what it is libraries do any more; attending (and presenting at) a conference that is outside of libraryland but within the scope of your job may be the perfect way to bring the professionals who attend those conferences some needed insights about how libraries work, what they do and what their local librarian can do for them!