Thursday, April 10, 2008

Should I get a co-presenter?

If you really want to present but aren't sure if you are ready to carry the burden alone, or believe that the reputation of your potential co-presenter may help you get on the roster, should you look for a co-presenter? Maybe. There are pros and cons for a co-presenter:

  • Reputation of the co-presenter may help you get a conference slot
  • Provided that your co-presenter is more experienced, you can get some mentorship
  • Is this truly a partnership? Have you worked on this thesis together? If so, you should share
  • Is this a co-presenter topic or is it all yours? If it is all yours, you should do your best to become the evangelist for your own ideas
  • Speaking as a practiced blowhard, the more experience you have, sometimes the more right you feel to dominate. I mean: will your more experienced co-presenter steal the show and make you look like a Rosencrantz to his Hamlet? I also may not be able to help it: with my co-presenter whining about how terrified she is, it just makes me all momma-bear maternal and junk.
I would, however, not decide to get a co-presenter as a way to bolster your own courage. If you think the lions are going to eat you, you need to figure out how to transform them into lambs. You do not want to be perceived as the weak link in your presentation, since this will make it difficult to capitalize on the triumph of the presentation. If courage is the issue, there are other ways to get some...and I don't mean Dutch courage. That could lead to a whole 'nother issue.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

ACRL posted a call for proposals

With lots of lead time and a request for "edgy" proposals, if you have any research or "crystal ball gazing" topics, I think you should consider applying.

Submit a proposal for 2009 ACRL National Conference

The ACRL National Conference Executive Committee invites proposal submissions for its 14th National Conference to be held in Seattle, March 12-15, 2009. The ACRL 14th National Conference offers a forum for an exciting and energizing exchange of ideas on research, practices, developments, and visions in the field of academic and research librarianship. The conference theme, "Pushing the Edge: Explore, Engage, Extend," reflects the promise and the challenge of the Northwest. The ACRL National Conference Executive Committee invites submitters to send their edgiest, most "out-there" proposals, to help make ACRL 2009 a truly groundbreaking conference!

Proposals are sought for a variety of formats including contributed papers, panel sessions, preconferences, workshops, poster sessions, and roundtable discussions. Deadlines for proposal submissions are as
  • May 12, 2008 - Contributed papers, panel sessions, preconferences, and workshops
  • October 20, 2008 - Poster sessions
  • November 23, 2008 - Roundtable discussions

Full text of the Call for Participation is available online at (Click "Proposals"). Complete details about the conference are online at

ACRL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing more than 13,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Guest conference blogger

I would love to go to the CLA conference this year, but I have a scheduling conflict and I can't make it. Is someone interested in guest blogging at the conference? I would put your posts here and make links to your own blog, boosting our google juice.

What you would need:
  • Ability to send an email, from one of the labs or from your blackberry to me with your posts
  • I would prefer a mad picture taker, so someone with a cell phone camera and the trigger finger of a fan girl at a con would be most appreciated.
  • You're looking for a job at the conference. The job seeker's perspective at a conference is different from a conference attendee.
Send me an email if you are interested. I will try to think up a worthy honorarium.

Monday, April 7, 2008

How to present at a conference

The first time I had the opportunity to present at a conference, I was asked to present. In my area, we have a technology conference for librarians (Netspeed) and my presentation was one of three student presentations that were selected for that year. I was really excited, since it would be my first opportunity to present but I was also excruciatingly nervous because I was a terrible public speaker. I prepped my slides, asked about the requirements--would I need to bring my laptop? prepare my own handouts?--and showed up in my Sunday-go-to-meetin'/interview clothes.

I was abysmal.

But I learned a lot from the presentation: the importance of rehearsing (I did hours and hours worth, but I hadn't practiced my skillz enough yet, so my presentation was lacking), how to deal with a crowd and answer questions. I also saw that many other presenters were plagued by the same anxieties that I experienced, but that many attendees were very gracious and kind. (They can also be cut throat and mean, but these are the rare few, so don't get knicker-twisted about them.) I also learned that I would have to practice my public speaking: twenty hours on the topic but not dealing with my anxieties wasn't enough. I have since presented at almost ten other conferences, not to mention other events and workshops, and have improved each time.

Beyond a sentence on your resume, there are enormous benefits to presenting at a conference:
  • Presenters usually get to attend the conference for free. Since conferences usually include a career fair, you score 1000 bonus points for getting the Big Boss.
  • Most conferences have a website where past presentations are stored. This does wonders for your Google juice.
  • If you have good evaluations, you can keep them and add them to your portfolio. If you have bad ones, you can burn them and dance around them chanting, whatever turns you on.
  • You can add your presentation to your personal portfolio.
You can get on a conference panel how I got on a panel: I was asked. This is the nicest strategy for a rookie since they will help you with some of the most difficult aspects of getting on the itinerary--applying on time and getting accepted--but, wallflower, I advise not waiting for an invite. Look at some of the conferences where you could speak and apply--prior to the deadline. You can also visit some of your professors and ask about upcoming conferences and ask them if you feel some of you topics would suit/be adaptable for the conference.

Most deadlines for presentation submissions are about 2-3 months before the conference takes place and the bigger the conference the longer the lead time. If there is no extended call for submissions, do not apply. The deadline is the deadline, especially for big conferences. Keep looking for a suitable venue for your topic and find another way to express yourself professionally.

A presentation is, of course, the brass ring, but a poster presentation or a place on a panel is just as worthy--especially if you are an unknown quantity. It would be great if there were more slots reserved for students and invitations sent out generally on the new librarian list serve suggesting that students apply. It isn't enough to ask professors to suggest students--they seem to keep tapping the same students each time they get an email. Maybe conference organizers will see my plea and respond. Heck, most libraries collect comic books, so someone listened to my pathetic begging.

For upcoming library-related conferences, check out the page compiled by Marian Dworaczek from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as ALA and CLA, of course. And don't talk yourself out of it with, no one will want me. Apply.

How to stand out

We all want to enhance our resumes and make ourselves stand out from the pack. Usually, you stand out because you have library experience or you match the position exactly. If you don't want else can you do to make yourself stand out from others in the pile?
During the next week, we'll look at how to get one of these credits on your resume.