A few months before the ARLIS/NA conference I received a wonderful surprise in the mail: a congratulations card and a travel award from the Upstate NY chapter!

It was so exciting to become a travel award recipient, kind of like receiving my first merit badge on my librarian sash. I felt totally supported as someone new to the field and this thread of encouragement and support continued throughout the whole conference experience.

My last semester of Library School is drawing to a close and I can’t help but feel a slight twinge uncertainty…while I am absolutely thrilled to graduate there is still the looming sense of “what will come next?” How will classroom conversations translate into the real world? How long will it take to find a library job? What exactly should I put on my business card? Attending the ARLIS conference was so heartening. It was like a balm for all of my pre-graduation anxieties, it made me feel excited and eager to really dive into the profession!

If you asked me to name the ONE most valuable aspect of the event, I would be hard pressed to make a decision. Inspiring conversations between sessions, the welcoming vibe at the reception and the social events, the fascinating panels… so many aspects of the conference seemed to re-affirm my confidence in the path I’ve been taking toward my degree. I really felt like I was in good company at ARLIS!

ARLIS members mingle in the Grand Hall of the Library of Congress

One of the highlights was the reception in the Grand Hall at the Library of Congress. Roaming the magnificent reading room and exploring the card catalog, I realized: “these are totally my people!” It was so meaningful to be able to share in a collective excitement and awe over the gorgeous architecture and the magnitude of the “mothership” of libraries.

Exploring the Card Catalog
Exploring the Card Catalog

Another major highlight occurred earlier in the week when I kicked off the conference by guiding a workshop entitled “Bookings: Making spaces for Makerspaces.” This workshop was a collaboration with various members of the Women’s Studio Workshop community, including the founders who are well versed in many technical aspects of book binding and book arts (with over 200 published artists’ books in the WSW catalog).

The workshop began with an overview of the makerspace movement, we reviewed a handful of unique spaces and library projects to serve as models. We also discussed the ways that WSW’s goals align with library makerspaces to provide resources and tools for creative expression and exploration. After this discussion we moved into some hands-on bookbinding fun.

Founders Ann Kalmbach & Tatana Kellner share a selection of Artists’ Books published at WSW

While many of our workshop guests had never bound a book before, a few had some prior experience. Varying levels of background experience aside, I hope every participant came away from the workshop inspired to keep making books and motivated to engage their local artist communities while designing library programming. I for one came away from the whole conference with my wheels spinning and I adamantly appreciate the opportunity to share and learn from the ARLIS membership!

-Sandra Brown, MSIS candidate at SUNY Albany


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