ALA’s LibLearnX: Professional Experience and Networking

iStudent Blog

Published: February 14, 2024 by Jennifer Dawes

In January 2024, I attended ALA’s LibLearnX Conference in Baltimore, MD with financial assistance from the iSchool’s travel grant. Entering my final semester in spring 2024, it was a wonderful opportunity to attend my first professional conference in the library field while also presenting with Dr. Chow. 

Having completed a special projects internship on user experience, I was a “content leader” for a panel presentation on the Application of UX and Usability Standards in Browser-Based Virtual/Augmented Reality Environments. As a UX intern, my portion of the presentation focused on user experience and user centered design. After the panel presentation, the panelists joined the attendees grouped at tables throughout the room in a guided exploration of virtual reality applying UX concepts for effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction. Working with a diverse small group of participants with none to some experience with VR environments was educational from an instruction perspective. Adjusting the instruction based on VR experience and participant desires required flexibility and some deviation from the planned instruction to keep everyone engaged and learning. As an unexpected bonus, the iSchool booth had two sets of VR headsets that anyone visiting the booth could tryout.

For my first visit to Baltimore, I had hoped to sneak in some sightseeing the first day of the conference with offsite activities. Unfortunately, snow caused closures and cancellations for offsite activities. While I missed those opportunities, I did attend a late morning networking event onsite and connected with academic and public librarians and MLIS students from other universities. The iSchool hosted a networking lunch with students and faculty. If you ever have a chance to attend one, just do it. Besides the in-person meeting, it was really nice to get to know professors that I had not taken a course from. It was also really encouraging to chat with several e-port advisors just days before starting the e-port. 

For anyone who has never attended a professional conference, I recommend you keep a flexible schedule of planned activities. There were more workshops and speakers than possible to attend. While my pathway focus is public librarianship, I attended plenty of workshops from academic or school librarians to learn what they are doing and to have an idea of how it could be repurposed for wherever I end up in my career.

The professional experience and connections made during the LibLearnX Conference were incredibly valuable. It was not all business. There was plenty of fun, too, including a karaoke night with fellow iSchool classmates.

Editor’s Note: The SJSU iSchool highly encourages students to attend professional conferences but also realizes that it can be cost prohibitive. Travel grants are available to eligible students to help lessen the financial burden and increase conference participation. iSchool student Jennifer Dawes received one of these travel grants.


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