Open Access Tenure: Conferencing

I’m in Minneapolis, where the Research Data Access Preservation Conference starts tomorrow morning. I got in mid-afternoon and friends and colleagues have been trickling in all evening, leading to fun encounters in a restaurant, on the street, in the elevators.

I love this conference because it is small and because it is targeted at a very specific group of librarians. Also, because I come here to learn.

ALA Annual and Midwinter are amazing behemoths. There’s such huge variety of things to take in and so many people to see from around the world that just reading the conference program can be overwhelming. As I’ve become more and more involved with LITA, the conferences have become more about working on committee things for me and, unfortunately, far less about getting to learn. At ALA Annual last summer, by the time I’d given my pre-conference, gone to 2 board meetings (as a guest), and attended my own other obligatory meetings, most of the conference was a wash.  It’s part of being in an organization and the work has brought incredible experiences but it does tend to isolate you off from the rest of the conference, working hard to ensure good things for others.

RDAP–even having helped a bit in the planning this year (truly, just a bit, Carolyn and Margaret have done the vast majority of wrangling) and even though tomorrow afternoon I’ll be speaking for a few minutes–is a learning conference for me. Last year, my first year attending, I volunteered for nothing, I spoke about nothing, I just attended, listened and learned. Met people who were facing problems like mine, laughed over dinner and drinks, commiserated and came away stronger.

RDAP is a professional soul-feeding conference for me. I hope to leave on Friday somewhat reaffirmed in the work that we’re doing and refreshed. It’s not quite as good as a rest–I still could really use a vacation that doesn’t involve obligation travel (e.g. wedding)–but for now it will do.

And the chance to hang out with this many cool people doesn’t hurt either.