Student Julie K. Williams Hones Professional Networking Skills at CLA/CSLA Conference

Student Julie K. Williams honed her professional networking skills and connected with library leaders during the 2010 joint California Library Association/California School Library Association (CLA/CSLA) conference. Williams participated in the conference as part of her coursework for LIBR 298 Special Studies: Trendspotting during Fall 2011.

“Before taking the class, the word ‘networking’ was a little intimidating, because I thought of it as a sales technique,” Williams explained. “But I learned that positive networking is connecting with everybody in your life, and then sharing those connections with other people you meet.”

The pre-conference class readings in Darcy Rezac’s Work the Pond! Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life prepared Williams to easily connect with other information professionals. She also found that the class requirement to create business cards was a helpful tool.

The CLA/CSLA conference took place in Sacramento, Williams’ hometown. The Trendspotting class met each day during the conference to exchange information about workshops, discuss professional trends that students noticed, and meet with library leaders.

Williams, who serves as Treasurer for our School’s American Library Association Student Chapter (ALASC), met with 2010-2011 ALA President Roberta Stevens during one of the class meetings. As a result of that conference connection, Stevens shared her experiences and advice with SLIS students at a recent ALASC Elluminate event.

In addition to attending conference sessions and the keynote address, Williams interacted with librarians and fellow SLIS students at tours, receptions, a reggae dance party, and the popular Bookcart Drill and Battledecks competition. “It was really fun and a great place to network, too,” she said.

CLA/CSLA was Williams’ second experience at a professional conference. She attended the 2010 ALA annual meeting as the recipient of the ALA Federal Librarians Adelaide Del Frate Conference Sponsorship Award, which provided $1,000 to defray the cost of conference participation.

Williams’ internship supervisor at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Sacramento encouraged her to apply for the award during the Spring 2010 semester. The internship gave Williams the opportunity to create original catalog records for unique documents going back to the 1890s and provided experience in a federal library.

Williams also credits coursework with Dr. Robert Ellett in LIBR 248 Beginning Cataloging and Classification and LIBR 249 Advanced Cataloging and Organization of Information with helping her succeed during the internship.

“Had I not taken his class, I never would have qualified for the internship when I did,” she said. “It felt like all the timing came together for the internship and conference award.”

Williams dreamed of enrolling in the MLIS program ever since she learned about the School in 1989. At the time she was working for a SLIS alum at a document delivery company in Palo Alto and knew she eventually wanted a career in libraries. “I took a few left and right turns, but stayed involved in libraries as a volunteer and a paraprofessional,” said Williams. “I just love the environment and helping people find information.”

In her current work as an Education Research and Evaluation Assistant at the California Department of Education, Williams often has the opportunity to apply LIS skills from her classes. She catalogs data files, provides reference services to researchers, and created a database to track requests for student-level data. She even designed a screencast tutorial to help researchers learn how to download files.

“The skills we’re learning can be applied in so many work environments, not just libraries,” said Williams, who plans to graduate in Fall 2011. “Everybody has information, and being able to categorize it, organize it, share it, and present it, is a skill that’s needed everywhere.”

Upcoming LIBR 298 Special Studies: Trendspotting courses will be held at the ALA and SLA conferences in Summer 2011, and at the ASIS&T, Internet Librarian, and CLA conferences in Fall 2011.