I spent most of last week in Portland, Oregon for ACRL's 2015 conference. I'd never been to this conference before, but I was able to go because I won a mid-career scholarship. I have to pause this post to say that I am forever grateful to those of you who chose to donate money to the ACRL scholarship fund. You helped fund an experience that transformed me.
The reason I'd never attended ACRL's conference before is that, historically, ACRL has not really focused on technical services. A technical services interest group was started in 2013, but the majority of content at ACRL's conference is directed toward people in other kinds of roles in their library. It seems like both ACRL and ALCTS have come to the conclusion that technical services librarians in academic libraries are more active in ALCTS. And, since ALCTS doesn't have a division-specific conference like ACRL, many technical services librarians end up having to attend the ALAs in order to get technical services content.
The answer to the question posed in the blog titles is that you build community is by finding people whose values align with yours, have hard conversations, and get to work being the change you wish to see.
It is easy to stick to the places that make us feel comfortable and safe. But that's rarely where transformation happens. I learned so much, grew so much, and cultivated so many friendships by attending ACRL's 2015 conference. I met people and had conversations I never would've had if I'd stuck with my technical services friends and only attended programs on linked data or the future of cataloging.
We have so much work to do, friends. The first order of business is to build a reading list of books and articles mentioned at presentations. Watch this space in coming days when Rachel and I figure out the best way to do that.
In the meantime, if you attended ACRL's 2015 conference, how were you transformed?