AALL Conference 2013 “Rethink Your Value”

Once a year work sponsors our attendance at a conference that requires travel. I generally focus on conferences that revolve around themes like instructional technology, emerging technology trends, legal technology, and I’m sure you’re seeing a trend. While I am a librarian, I am not a law librarian, a difference that always makes me consider AALL last. However, this years agenda looked very appealing to me, as well as the theme, “Rethink Your Value,” and I thought to myself “Maybe I need to rethink the way I think about my role in a law library. After all, it has been five years. Just as I had made my decision I received notification that an article my colleague and I wrote was awarded AALL Spectrum Article of the Year – Seattle, WA here I come.

The opening keynote speaker set the tone for the conference, as they typically do, David Weinberger from the Harvard Law Library’s Innovation Lab. I was instantly curious, I have wonderful former colleagues and professional friends over at HLL that often share with me wonderful stories about the Innovation Lab. Further, David does not have a JD – so we’re basically the same person – nor is he a librarian, but he does have a PhD – so maybe we’re not the same person but we have similarities(!). In any case, he opened the AALL conference, and I instantly switched my frame of thinking from being a fish out of water, to being in the right place.

The Harvard Innovation Lab is doing extraordinary things, but of course, that are really challenging the way we use information and building tools to explore new ways to make libraries better represented. And that was key in David’s talk, better use, representation, and services from and by libraries. He stressed the future of libraries as a platform allowing people to use, and reuse, data, build applications from that data, and create new data. Very intriguing. This write up hardly does it justice, but take a look below for the Innovation Lab link and go explore, it’s interesting stuff.

The rest of the conference, for me, was framed around the idea of bettering myself and finding more value. Of course I couldn’t help but attend a few how-to sessions on emerging technologies, eReader bars, and teaching tools. The bulk of my time was spent learning about leadership, project management, and the four phases (or in our speakers case, personas) of writing.

All in all AALL 2013 was a successful conference in my book, and the bonus of being able to see the sites of Seattle didn’t hurt either. Gorgeous weather led to several exploratory walks and al fresco dining experiences. It has stayed with me as I continue to rethink myself in the library I am in now and my future.