As a former public library employee, attending the Annual NJLA Conference was one of the highlights of my year. The conference is the perfect forum to engage with librarians across the state. Exchanging ideas with our peers inspires the work we do in our local school or public library.
With programs and panel discussions that involve librarians, directors and community advocates, I always leave the conference refreshed with new professional goals and an updated vision for my own library. The biggest takeaway for me after many years of attending NJLA’s annual conference: all librarians can encourage and empower each other - across every venue.
After recently transitioning from Public to School Librarian, I see now more than ever how valuable the NJLA network and its services are, giving me the confidence and support to take on this ever-changing role.
So why should every School Library Media Specialist attend the Annual NJLA Conference?
Here are my top three reasons.
You need to stay on top of your game.
An effective library is always changing. Utilizing the services of agencies like NJLA, ensures that your school library stays relevant and evolves to reflect the shifts in literature, education and technology. The Annual NJLA Conference tackles industry topics and trends that will keep you “in the know.” Some of the conference programs I’m looking forward to attending this year include:
Several conference sessions also address the changes in technology that librarians need to address in order to keep up with their students. We owe it to our students to expose them to the latest and best in books and services, and the NJLA brings them directly to us.
It’s a great place to meet the “neighbors.”
A healthy school library can’t exist in a vacuum. Every library is a reflection of the community it serves. At the Annual NJLA Conference, I have an opportunity to meet up with county librarians that support my school district. They have proven to be invaluable resources to me as a fairly new school librarian. Our county librarians have been able to speak with our students about the local library, attend Back to School Night and donate spare books. I am in regular contact with our county librarians to discuss services that might benefit our student body. Parents especially seem to appreciate this additional support. This invaluable connection can be created and nurtured by attending the Annual NJLA Conference.
We’re all in this together.
As librarians, we strive to blur the line between the school, public and university libraries. Our goal as School Library Media Specialists is to inspire children and young adults to explore the vast array of offerings available to them in their local library, long after graduation. As my current Rutgers Professor Deborah Sparnon states, ““SLMS and Public Librarians are all working towards the same goals of having students become individual and independent users of the library.” Attending the Annual NJLA Conference allows attendees to become familiar with the services provided by libraries in other sectors, and promote these within our own school. Children that see libraries as invaluable community resources will continue to utilize them throughout their entire lives.
About Tricina L. Beebe: Tricina Beebe is currently a District School Library Media Specialist for K-8th Grade in Burlington County. She worked for Camden County Library Systems for nine years and currently attends Rutgers University Graduate School for Continued Studies in Education. She was NJLA’s 2013 Karma Scholarship Recipient and a past member of NJLA’s Honors and Awards Committee. You can follow her school on Twitter @BBbiblioTECH and Instagram HPSD_Library