Why I’m Useless at a Conference
Yesterday, I went to our state library conference. I have been to conferences before, but this was my first time as an official “librarian.” I mostly went to sessions, which was good for me. I can sit quietly and take notes as long as the presentation is interesting enough to keep my attention, and the ones I went to were. But there are many ways in which I’m a big fail as a librarian at a conference. One, when confronted with a favorite author, I just twisted my hands and stared. My coworkers were talking to David Levithan and another author after our first session when I came out of the bathroom, and instead of doing something cool and talking to him, I just stared at him thinking “I should really say something, but I have no idea what to say.” Then we walked away.
Then later in the afternoon, we went into the exhibit hall. I understand that most librarians come home with boxes and bags of free books they picked up while wandering around in there, but I came home with one. And it wasn’t even one that I wanted. I know you apparently just have to ask for books that you want, and the vendors will likely reach behind their magic curtains and draw out a copy for you, but my introverted-self refused to do so. To be fair, this is also in large part because I hate clutter and “stuff” in general, so I do not want to take home a bag of books I’ll never read or a bunch of posters and random crap I’ll never use. I did get a couple more galleys from one of the sessions I attended, and decided to be happy with that. I may not even read those. We’ll see.
I hate being sold things, but also hate to be rude, so I just avoid eye contact with any vendor that looks like they want to talk to me. I will grab a chocolate if their bowl is unattended though, ;). I think the fact that I look very young helps me in that situation, in that I do not look like someone who can make any decisions for a library (and I’m not anyway). I just hate salesy-ness. And fake small talk, which also makes me terrible at making connections with strangers, even if they work in the same field and have the same interests as me.
I did however have fun with my coworkers from another branch in my system, enjoyed the sessions I attended, and ended the day with hope that someday I will be better at conferences but also okay with it if I don’t end up one of those vulture librarians who have to mail 18 boxes of crap back to their library. 🙂