The Conference Newbies 

This was my first library conference since I have worked here at Augusta University. It was the first ever conference where I actually presented. I am not good with standing up in front of people and talking, and the day of our presentation, I was so nervous. We ended up with a great audience and I had a blast talking about the “Wow” space. I was also able to attend several other presentations, such as: “Stories of Self-care in a Service Profession”, which was presented by our very own Josette Kubicki and her co-speaker Heather Simmons, “A Culture of Stories”, “Sharing Your Inside Story”, “Introduction to Cataloging”, “Write Your Own Story”, “Cultivate Your Community”, and “Stories of Routine Work in the Library”.   

Although Athens was beautiful, the best part for me was spending time with my coworkers. It is a bit different spending time with people outside of the regular work environment. We ate great meals together and enjoyed the Athens atmosphere. We had shared experiences like Trivia Night and hanging out with other fellow Georgia library colleagues. I had an amazing time at the conference and am very appreciative of the opportunity to attend. -Bettina Askew, Weekend Evening Manager

The GLA Conference at the start of this month was my first ever Library Conference. I was a bit nervous for the conference since I would also be presenting. It turned out that there was nothing to be nervous about. With the help of Bettina and Aspasia the presentation went exceedingly well. The conference itself was fun and educational. It helped me see new ideas and perspectives. I came back with my spirit refreshed ready to do my best to make AU Libraries the best they can be. –Lexy Katic, Medical Library Associate

Going to the library conference was a great learning experience. The bulk of my sessions were focused on original cataloging which is something I knew nothing about. It gave me a much greater appreciation for what originally catalogers do, especially when it comes to DVDs. I never realized how detailed records had to be. I also went to a few sessions that helped me realize a lot of the things we are doing, we are doing well, such as our Whiteboard questions. Going to the conference also gave me ideas on some future research and potential presentations. –Trish Marcano, Acquisitions Specialist

The Conference Veterans 

I have attended at least 16 library conferences, in-person or virtually, and presented in some way at 9 of them. Presenting at the Georgia Library Conference (GLC) ’23 in Athens, GA, is my 10th time presenting, so you would think my pre-presentation jitters would have nearly disappeared by now! However, I was feeling particularly nervous about this 45-minute presentation because it was on a topic that is deeply personal to me: mindfulness for good mental well-being. My co-presenter, Heather J.E. Simmons from Alexander Campbell King Law Library, University of Georgia (UGA) School of Law, and I called the presentation, Stories of Selfcare in a Service Profession: Mindfulness for Librarians, to fit GLC ‘23’s theme of “We’ve Got Stories to Tell.” To honor the theme, we planned to briefly share our stories on how we came to discover mindfulness, how we met each other in a mindfulness practice community, and how it has impacted our lives before launching into mindfulness education and examples. I would be letting my guard down, sharing personal history I typically do not disclose with colleagues unless we become good friends. However, I felt this history needed to be shared so the audience could feel my passion for mindfulness and why I believe in the practice so they would buy into it. 

There was a second reason I felt nervous – it was my first time meeting my co-presenter #IRL! The community we met in was online, where we engaged in mindfulness practice for 5-10 minutes on weekdays. When our wonderful facilitator, Kiz, was unavailable, Heather started subbing for her, introducing herself as a librarian for UGA’s School of Law. Eventually, I wondered if she would be interested in presenting at GLC one day. GLC is aimed at all types of libraries, and mindfulness benefits everyone. She heartily agreed when I suggested we submit a presentation proposal; the rest is history! We collaborated over email and met on Zoom twice to discuss and run through the presentation. But I missed not having the opportunity to have a “dress rehearsal” in person, which I usually do with my Augusta University Libraries (AUL) colleagues. So, I was a little nervous about how we would vibe and flow together in the presentation #IRL. 

But all went well! The audience seemed receptive to our presentation, engaged in our mindfulness practices, and asked us questions or commented at the end. It helped a lot that Heather and I met a few hours before our presentation. We enjoyed brunch together and milling through the exhibition hall, picking up swag and candy (well, I picked up the candy) from vendors before going to set up. That helped break the initial awkwardness, and we got to know each other a bit before presenting. What also helped a lot was seeing some friendly faces in the audience, my AUL colleagues, who came to support us. After our presentation, I felt I could finally relax and enjoy the rest of the day. I attended my AUL colleagues’ presentation and found it very interesting to learn what a neat WOW Space they have set up at Greenblatt Library and their process. After that, I attended a couple of other good ones. Then, it was time for a long drive home… I would have loved to have stayed for the entire conference, but I didn’t want to leave my 10-month-old behind for that long. When he’s a little older, I would like to start attending conferences for their entire duration again. It is a great experience to learn what your wider colleagues are doing, network with them, and soak up the city’s culture. I get so much more from attending an in-person conference than a virtual one. I am grateful to AU Libraries for giving us the means to attend conferences for our professional development. – Josette Kubicki, Reference & Instruction Librarian

This was my third time presenting at the Georgia Libraries Conference! I co-presented a poster at the 2018 conference in Columbus and in 2020 I was a part of two group presentations when the conference had to join the virtual world due to the pandemic. It was so nice to be back in person again. I co-presented with Bettina and Lexy on “Wowzers: Creating a Library Hangout Spot from Scratch” regarding our efforts and results on creating a relaxing and cozy space for students in the newly renovated Greenblatt Library. Surprisingly, I was not nervous, and Lexy and Bettina did an awesome job presenting at their first library conference. I visited various poster sessions and vendor booths and also attended Josette’s mindfulness presentation and other sessions on whiteboard studies, using GIS software to inform library planning and services, and using information literacy in a fanfiction studies course. The conference sponsored a trivia night which was fun although some of the questions were hard and there was an awards ceremony where we were able to watch Trish accept her Library Staff Award! The keynote speaker was children’s author Carmen Agra Deedy, and it was delightful to meet her and see her wonderful storytelling techniques in action. (Aspasia Luster, Student Success Librarian) 

Aspasia Luster with children’s author Carmen Agra Deedy

The Conference Expert 

I enjoyed attending my first GLC in Athens.  It was a great opportunity to see my colleagues present on their work and accomplishments over the past year as well as meet both academic and public librarians around the state.  As I continue to understand and work in Georgia, I find that attending state conferences is helpful in developing my understanding of how all types of libraries have evolved, are funded, and manage trends and challenges at the local level.  I was heartened to see programming centered around well-being, hiring, and retention that stressed taking an employee-centric approach.  I also enjoyed some of the ‘quick take’ presentations in which colleagues shared work that was a bit more in process and experimental in nature.  Finally, I was intrigued by experiences at a couple of institutions in providing internship opportunities for undergraduate students.  This was the longest amount of time I had spent in Athens, and as a person who went to school in another iconic college town (Bloomington, IN), it was fun to be in that environment for a few days. – Brad Warren, Dean of Libraries

From L to R: Bettina Askew, Lexy Katic, Aspasia Luster, Trish Marcano, and Brad Warren.