Making the Trek: Attending AzLA for the First Time Despite Snow

By Julia Dunlap
Julia Dunlap
Julia Dunlap

The Arizona Library Association (AzLA) has organized an annual conference every year since 1926. This year’s was held in Scottsdale on Nov. 12-14 as a joint effort with Mountain Plains Library Association. I was fortunate enough to attend the conference, and found it to be a wonderful opportunity for library and information science professionals.

The conference theme, Libraries: The Best of the West!, was especially fitting given the location. I drove all the way from Jonesboro, Arkansas, a 26-hour drive one way. The weather was perfect going there, but on the return trip, I ran into an old-fashioned snowstorm. I got home safely, much to my gratitude.

On the first day, I attended a preconference session, Advanced Cataloging with RDA: Audiovisual Materials and Special Formats, where I was educated by two wonderful lecturers about new cataloging standards based on Resource, Description and Access (RDA). It was very enlightening learning how to catalog using RDA.  I also learned how metadata will be read by machines instead of humans within the next 20 years. Especially beneficial were the hands-on cataloging exercises using RDA.

The first keynote address was delivered by Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center Internet Project. He discussed the Project’s library research findings, and explored the implications of that research for the future of libraries in three specific ways: The library as a place, the library as a connector of people, and the library as a platform for getting patrons the information and contacts they seek. Next up was Dreams You Hold in your Hands: The Enduring Power of Books, a keynote address by author Connie Willis. She talked about her books and how technology has changed book-related phenomena.

The last keynote address was one of my favorites, and moved me to tears. Maggie Farrell, Dean of Libraries at the University of Wyoming, presented Engagement of our Profession. This address spoke to my heart, and was very inspirational. It confirmed my passion for working in the library field.

The other workshops were extremely useful, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have participated, despite the snowstorm and ice on the way back. As a deaf person, the conference was a terrific opportunity to also educate librarians about how to work with people who use sign language.

I am appreciative of the Membership Committee for giving me this great honor and for making this trip possible. I am proud of being part of this great organization and the excellent information I gained during the conference.

This experience of attending the Arizona Library Conference has been invaluable, and will only serve to further support my long career in the library field. I look forward to attending AzLA conferences in coming years.

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