As much as she has learned, Nicole still wants to learn more…

About six years ago in a previous job, we took a little test to discover our workplace motivators. For whatever reason, one of the takeaways I still remember is that I’m highly theoretical and like to attend trainings. Of course, I didn’t really need a quiz to tell me that, but sometimes it’s nice when such results match my self-assessment.

Last night, I went through my files to find the report (see an example), and I had to laugh at some of the observations listed under my theoretical value:

  • “The chief aim in life is to order and systematize knowledge…”
  • “Likes to go to trade shows and conventions in her area of interest and expertise to find new ideas and tools for the team and organization at large.”
  • “Classes, courses, and conferences: Send Nicole and let her learn.”
  • “Realize that as much as she has learned, Nicole still wants to learn more.”

Seems like Thing 15 was tailor-made for me, doesn’t it?

Learning AND free stuff? Sign me up!

True to form, I have attended as many conferences as I could afford in the three years since I began library school.

  1. ALA 2009 (Chicago) – made possible by student registration fee, approx. 3 hour drive from Indianapolis, aunt and uncle’s guest bedroom in the ‘burbs
  2. SLA 2010 (New Orleans) – made possible by student registration fee, partial funding from our library student association, not having to use vacation days to attend
  3. SLA 2011 (Philadelphia) – made possible by student registration fee, sheer luck of winning four-night hotel stay in survey drawing, not having to use vacation days to attend
  4. Indiana Library Federation (3 of the last 5 statewide conferences, I think) – made possible because our organization always has a booth in the exhibit hall. The years I did not attend were because it’s the busy time for one of my other programs, and it’s tricky to get out of the office. Even when I do attend, I’m often manning the booth rather than attending sessions, but it’s still a nice way to be in touch with local colleagues.

Aside from ILF, I didn’t get a free ride (or funds from my employer) to attend any of the conferences, but I found enough discounts and funding assistance that the remaining personal investment seemed reasonable. Admittedly, I also justified the trips to New Orleans and Philadelphia by making time to be a tourist in these two cities I’d never visited before. This summer, I essentially doubled the value of my airfare by tacking on a couple days to visit a friend in DC before catching a train to Philly for the conference.

Too much conferencing meant this is as close as I got to the Liberty Bell.

I’ve already written a little about how I’ve made the most of conference attendance for Thing 7 about face-to-face networking and Thing 8 about Google Calendar, so I won’t go into detail here. Aside from using Twitter to turn online connections into personal connections, I would say that it’s important to spend some time reading the conference program to locate sessions that will be most valuable either to your current work or future goals. I realize that’s not mind-boggling conference advice, but sometimes the simplest things bring the best results, right?

I have yet to speak at a professional conference, and I’m not actively pursuing such opportunities at this point.Public speaking has never really been one of my favorite things, though I’m not nearly as uncomfortable with it now as I was growing up. I suppose right now, I’m just not sure what I would have to present about at a conference. The library I work in is pretty unusual, yet I’m not sure we do anything that other libraries would want to replicate. And personally, I know a little about a lot of things, so I don’t see myself as an expert on any particular topic. I still feel like there’s more for me to learn than there is for me to teach. Am I being too humble? Probably. My workplace motivators report also scored me high in the social/altruistic value, meaning that I like “helping, teaching, and coaching others.” While it’s certainly true that I like to be helpful, I’ve never really felt like I had the patience for teaching in a formal sense. This really is something I’d like to work on, but I’m not totally sure where to start.

For now, I can probably be most helpful when it comes to organizing conferences. I’ve been involved in this type of work for the last five years, to varying degrees. While there are two other staff at my agency with primary responsibility for organizing our annual conference and regional trainings, I have somehow become the registration guru. This includes setting up our registration system(s), maintaining the databases, troubleshooting with customers, running reports, etc. I’ve received more e-mails and attended more event planning meetings than I care to recall, so I’d like to think I have a good understanding of what it takes to pull off conferences of varying sizes and scopes. I’m not currently planning any library-oriented conferences (unless you count our tweetup!), but I suspect that this may be a good way for me to put my diverse skills to use in the future.

Working hard at on-site registration...

So far in my library career, I would say that I’m doing the best I can to nurture my theoretical side and attend conferences and trainings that will help me become a better information professional. It seems that my next challenge is to attend to my social/altruistic values and look for more opportunities to teach and help others.


2 Comments on “As much as she has learned, Nicole still wants to learn more…”

  1. Great insights, Nicole, about your love of knowledge and information management. Also, I think it is awesome that you have coordinated a tweet-up! Keep up the amazing work..

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