That was one of the tweets I read this morning. I arrived home late last night, weary and worn from my two day whirlwind at the Texas Library Association’s Annual Conference. The conference began earlier in the week, but I couldn’t snag the days for the entire conference, so just scheduled myself to attend Friday and Saturday, the last two days. I was an invited guest speaker, giving a breakout session on AASL’s 2012 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.
As you can tell I did not take many photos. I think I walked around more star struck than anything!! When I agreed to come and be a guest speaker, I had no idea the sheer size of this conference! In conferring with my shuttle mates on the way back to the airport Saturday afternoon, I found out that TLA (or TXLA, as some called it) is the largest library conference behind ALA Annual. Yeah, it was definitely LARGE. For general sessions there was a humongous ballroom set up to seat well over 3000, and then another location to serve as an overflow room. WHAT? Yeah, they have to have overflow rooms since everyone attending cannot fit into the general sessions.
Just two days
I didn’t arrive until LATE Thursday evening. I worked Thursday, and then booked it over to Charlotte Douglas to catch my direct flight to Dallas-Fort Worth. Despite the issues surrounding airports with traffic controller layoffs, both of my flights took-off and landed on time. My only travel issue was upon return, when I could not remember where I parked my car. All I could remember was “long term one” and somewhere CLOSE to the entrance. LOL, yes, I walked up and down a few rows in the RAIN looking for my car. My electronic key’s battery was weak, so I couldn’t just “flash” my lock lights. I had to walk around a good bit in cold and dark all alone. That was a little unnerving.
TxLA’s slate of speakers floored me. To discover my friends and rock star librarians (Joyce Valenza, Buffy Hamilton, Shannon Miller, and more) were speaking too put me in such a tizzy! Being a guest speaker too, I was in GREAT company. I must thank Mary Woodard of TXLA for inviting me AGAIN. Buffy had two sessions and Joyce had two. I attended one of each which I will share here.
The Flipping Librarian
I went to Joyce Valenza’s session titled “The Flipping Librarian.” She absolutely flies through her material, and her handout is essentially her libguide on the topic. Since I already understand the concept of the flipped classroom approach, the biggest take away from this session are some of the tools used. I can’t wait to create and embed playlists in some of my virtual spaces using MentorMob. It is going on a nomination for AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning too, cuz I’m going to nominate it. Another I liked from the session was “Digital Libraries to School Libraries,” which lets librarians identify digital content, generate metadata, and ADD it to their OPAC so it can be searched in their system. How cool is that?? Another idea/takeway: Use google hangout to archive discussion/instruction in flipped classroom. Maybe Google hangout should be a BWTL too!
Buffy Hamilton talks about MakerSpaces
How could I do it justice? As usual her session was very thought provoking. Her ease with the topic amazed me, and she gave PLENTY of different examples, from small scale to big scale (where libraries have purchased EXPENSIVE 3-d printers to use in a “makerspace.” Her tip for those just beginning the concept: Start small. Here is her slide set. Be sure to use her embedded links.
Shannon’s visit to Fort Worth was sponsored by Mackin, where she was slated to speak at the after hours dinner. I luckily snagged an invite to the Mackin Dinner. She did a very informal speech using no powerpoint or slide, but rather a simple yarn necklace with 10 notes. She was fabulous. Her speech was about making yourself as librarian indispensable and vital in your school and community. Shannon shared 10 ways to make inroads with your school and community, tips that implemented can go a LONG way to making you indispensable in your school. I tweeted some of them as she spoke, so check out my twitter feed for Friday, April 25, 2013. Here are a few I was able to tweet:
- Join Twitter; cultivate a PLN
- Model and teach digital citizenship to students, faculty, and community
- Be a collaborator! Work to develop collaborative working relationships in your school community.
- Make inroads with admin; be their friend as well as TL. Develop a relationship.
- Be linked to student learning. Be linked to your standards. TLs have a birds eye view to plugin here!
- Be at every table plug your skills on at every meeting in your building.
- Be inspiring to students, teachers, & community Be creative; show the power of connected learning.
Friends, old and new
Wow that sounds so harsh! My friends are NOT old. They are just experienced. At TXLA I reconnected with Sue Fitzgerald, my librarian friend and predecessor at Dorman High. Sue looks wonderful!! I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo op with her. I think she came to my session too. I spent a good bit of time Friday with Carolyn Foote, who I met for the first time in Atlanta at ISTE 2007 (NECC then.) The last time I saw her was in San Antonio-ISTE 2009. We copresented with Joyce Valenza at the first Educon in Philadelphis that January. Much of our friendship has been virtual and online, so it was WONDERFUL connecting face to face again. Carolyn presented at TXLA, but it was on Thursday before I arrived. Read about her session (iPads in the library) on her blog.
I also made a new friend. Nancy Jo Lambert attended the Mackin Dinner event and sat beside me. She was one of the TXLA award winners, being named a 2013 TASL Librarian MVP Award for her most AWESOME library website. We laughed at the “Jo’s” sitting together! There is so much power in connecting with like-minded school librarians. The networking at conferences like this is SO addictive. At times it is hard to choose between hanging out with your PLN and attending much needed PD through wonderful sessions. And TXLA13 had SO MANY to choose from.
Speaking of sessions…
Want to see the handouts that are available now? Click here. I’m sure more will be added in the days to come. My own is not listed here yet, though I submitted it. I was told then it would be added after conference. I will be posting my session material on my blog soon.
Okay it is difficult to explain how many authors were at this conference. This picture might do it a little justice though. You can tell from the author signing schedule there was a lot of competition for attention. This is yet another reason I walked around star struck!! Just look at the author signing schedule and activity posted in the Exhibit hall. I usually do not stand in line for author signings, but I decided to pay for and get Ruta Sepetys’s book Out of the Easy because she will be visiting our school in September. Most of the authors also had time in their publishers booth AND in panel sessions throughout the conference. What a treat to actually talk to Ruta Sepetys face to face! I attended several of the panel sessions of authors too.
Neil Gaiman – Last General Session
Listening to Neil Gaiman close the conference was the very best treat. I heard from veteran TXLA attendees that this was the first year they had a really BIG NAME closer. There was speculation as to whether or not folks would stay. I have to say the room was slam full (and remember the general session ballroom looked to hold about 3000 people.) Neil Gaiman definitely made folks stay for the closing and his closing speech was so worth it.
Great sessions, visiting authors, book signings, and more. The power of TLA and TASL coming together annually to put together such awesomeness has inspired me. I know SCLA and SCASL have worked together before Maybe it’s time to revisit that idea. This conference was just awesome. I’ll close with these two tweets, one by a middle school TX librarian, and one from Neil himself that she retweeted. Sums it up perfectly!! Magical. Yes, Neil, it was.