I spent Friday (01 March 2013) at the Radisson Hotel on Stephen Street in Dublin city centre enjoying my first ever Academic and Special Libraries seminar (ASL2013). It’s always a bit nerve-wracking walking into an event like this, but particularly so when you aren’t sure what to expect. As it was my first time an ASL event, I had no idea whether theree would be 10 people there or 100, whether I would fit in, or stand out like a sore thumb. Would the fact that I was only an MLIS student and not a fully qualified librarian render me a persona non grata? Luckily I needn’t have worried.
When I arrived at the hotel, the registration desk was easily identifiable in the lobby, with name badges printed and ready to go for all attendees. Then it was a case of just following the crowd in to the tea and coffee and exhibitors. After a review of the exhibits and a chat with David Buckley from anybook.biz, I moved into the the main hall for the first presentation. I was very lucky in my choice of seats because I ended up sitting next to Catriona Lee, who works in Crumlin hospital library and Marie Carrigan from St. Luke’s hospital library. This was a fantastic twist of fate because I am (a) very interested in medical libraries and medical librarians and (b) planning to do a capstone project on the subject. Both Catriona and Marie were very chatty and welcoming and had lots of information to share about their experiences in their respective libraries. They also very kindly introduced me to a number of other medical librarians throughout the day and at the evening drinks which was much appreciated.
Over lunch I ended up sitting at the same table as John Duffy, one of the guest speakers for the afternoon. John had worked not only in the Law Library but also in Leinster House, and had lots to tell about the working life of a librarian in both environments. This was also incredibly lucky for me because for Daniel Duffy’s networking experiment the following day at the New Professionals’ Day Ireland 2013 (NPDI2013) , I was given the persona of librarian in the House of the Oireachtas!
After the day’s presentations there was a drinks reception in the bar at the Radisson and here Marie introduced me to Michelle Dalton, another guest speaker at ASL2013. As Michelle was speaking at NPDI2013 the following day, and as she is also a medical librarian, she had lots of advice to offer. She also had some interesting thoughts on getting involved in the library community and raising my profile (Tweeting being top of the list). It was a conversation I was happy to pick up the following evening in The Lombard after NPDI2013 where Michelle also gave me some advice about my Twitter handle. She subsequently tweeted me the link to a paper she had written which I was interested in (thanks again for that Michelle!) reaffirming the one message which I have taken from all the events I have attended so far – librarians really do want to share information and help people.
I met lots of other people over the course of the two days conferences, including Marie Cullen, Jane Burns, Daniel Duffy, Peter Fleming, Caroline Philpott, Bryan Whelan and others, all of whom encouraged me to follow them on Twitter, be active on my own Twitter account and to make sure to attend as many conferences as possible.
It is quite phenomenal to me that no matter who I talked to at either ASL2013 or NPDI2013, they were all willing to chat, to introduce me to other librarians or guest speakers or to pass on useful information. The nerves I had worried about throughout both days were probably natural but completely unnecessary. If the welcome I have found in the library community so far is typical of what can be expected from the library community generally, then I am absolutely convinced that I have made the right career move.