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WLA Conference 2018 logo, Excite Ignite Invite
Many thanks to Danielle Welch, Programming Specialist at the Prescott Public Library for this guest post.  Danielle is one of the IFLS 2018 WLA Conference Scholarship recipients.

A few pieces of advice for anyone interested in attending a WLA conference. First, plan on attending all of the mixers and ceremonies that are offered. You only have a small amount of time each year that you can visit with people who have the same passion for books, libraries and learning that you do. Jump in with both feet! Please do not be afraid to talk to people, to introduce yourself or give them your business card. People are there to visit and find out what you do, what works at your library or what doesn’t work. Sharing your experiences with someone who walks in your vocational shoes can create friendships through common experiences.

Second, don’t feel like you need to purchase all of the meals that are offered at the conference. Some of the best conversations happened spur of the moment or over a meal out with a group of attendees. Third, attend as many sessions as you can and take as many notes as you can without your hand cramping. There is so much great information that your brain simply cannot process it all at once. Reviewing notes later will help remind you of all of ideas and programs that inspired you!

Some of my biggest take-a ways from the 2018 WLA Conference:

  • ·       Do not limit the power of children and teens. Their power in your library and in your community is immeasurable. Children and teens can assist with programming, can make recommendations that will increase circulation, can be great community advocates for your library and can really make your job FUN!
  • ·       Libraries are offering more and more non-traditional events such as healthcare classes, memory care classes and in less formal formats. Think outside the box when it comes to programming at the library. It may take some convincing of patrons because of their preconceived notions of what a library should be, but eventually the community will benefit from this out of the box approach.
  • ·       Lean on your friends in the library community. They are a wealth of knowledge!
  • ·       Love what you do! People in your community can see that passion for your profession in the services, books, and programs you provide. If you are invested in your library and community, that can help build community partnerships and advocates for library.

I am grateful for the opportunity to go to the 2018 WLA Conference. The Prescott Public Library and our community will benefit greatly from the information I gathered. I would recommend that anyone in the library world attend, learn all that you can, bring it back to your community and hit the ground running!