Last Friday I was an invited speaker in Cerritos for the MLGSCA Technology Symposium.
Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona: www.mlgsca.mlanet.org/
The meeting was held in the astounding and very lovely Cerritos Public Library.
You might be thinking, “Lucky devil, I wish someone would fly me to Southern California!” I wasn’t quite that enthusiastic myself, at least to start out. You see, I sometimes get stuck in the mentality that goes with wearing a single-mom-special-needs-kid hat, and avoid traveling as a general rule of thumb. I’d done a few other invited speaker gigs this past year, and am feeling a bit like I’ve done enough traveling for a while. I wasn’t sure exactly why I was doing this. I also worked on the presentation harder than I’ve worked on any other presentation in at least a dozen years, and wondered why I was doing this to myself.
Through the actions of my very gracious and generous hosts all became clear. At the big meetings, everything tends to be pretty chaotic, lots of people milling around. It is hard to make those connections with individuals, to strike up a conversation and pick it up again later. There was a lot of that happening in this smaller meeting. Everyone was warm, friendly, helpful. The officers of MLGSCA went out of their ways to welcome me and make the experience comfortable and easy.
Michelle Kraft of the Krafty Librarian gave a wonderful keynote called “The Evolving Library.” She talked a lot about generational differences in patron communities, and focused very nitty gritty hands-on practical tips for engaging with your community successfully. Some of my favorites included matching giftcards to different community subsections as prizes in special events and promotions; having monthly auctions for a free parking space near the building; and chalkboard walls in the study rooms.
When I gave my own presentation the experience was purely delightful. People asked all the right questions, laughed in the right places. Afterwards, someone wanted to give me a hug she was so enthused; later a few other people kept using the word “inspirational”.
I hung out a bit afterwards and volunteered as a “technology sherpa”, a term which was new to me but seemed to mean someone willing to guide others. I showed off Slideshare a bit, and veered off into some of those rewarding tangential conversations. I’m unfortunately no good at remembering people’s names, but I felt like I made friends good enough that I really wanted to. My apologies to the guy who introduced my presentations at MLA. He really is one of the most charismatic and joyful people I’ve met in ages, and I wish I could remember his name.
Aside from the wonderful people, another high point was seeing (and *touching!) the ocean. Very first time in my life, and I was thrilled.
But really, the takeaway lesson for me was that the smaller meetings are really all about the people. Thank you, folks. You were great!