Fulfilling My Mission to Attend Conferences
Travel Grant Provides 'Incredible Opportunities' for Students to Build Skills and Network
Published: May 23, 2023 by Nanci Dela Cruz Aguayo
Since I started library school, I’ve made it my mission to attend conferences where I can network and learn information that will make me more appealing when I graduate. In my current job in an academic library, travel funds are limited only for librarians; thus, I was thrilled to find out about SJSU’s travel grants for current students. Within a couple of days, they approved my request, and I was able to start the process of traveling to Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA) Conference in Los Angeles.
Background on ELUNA
ELUNA is an annual conference for libraries that use Ex Libris products, such as Alma. Alma is a library management system that manages electronic and print materials in a single interface. The larger higher institutions in Las Vegas use Alma to manage their collections. Since I want to be an academic librarian in Las Vegas when I graduate, I thought it would be beneficial for me to educate myself on Alma’s capabilities and network with people from other institutions.
The Conference Sessions
On the first night of the conference, I decided to attend the first-time attendee’s dinner. When planning my outfit for the trip, I made sure to plan for at least one extra nice, professional dinner outfit, just in case. I met a wonderful electronic resources librarian from Connecticut and discussed what parts of the conference we are looking forward to and what sessions would be most beneficial.
The best sessions I attended were focused on usability testing with Primo (a library discovery service). I found this useful, as I would like to learn and develop my usability testing skills. Another popular topic was artificial intelligence. Different librarians brought their perspectives, and it was interesting to hear how they thought libraries could embrace it.
The conference experience was spectacular. I definitely recommend MLIS students to attend at least one conference before graduating. On the other hand, the conference took place during finals week; I spent all of my free time finishing up a major project for my Information Literacy course. I would definitely recommend getting ahead of your classwork as much as possible before attending a conference, if possible. Otherwise, I thought it put me in a librarian mindset that helped me concentrate on my project even more.
Overall, I had such a great time getting to learn new information and people. I very much appreciate SJSU for providing these incredible opportunities for students.
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 Nanci Dela Cruz Aguayo received one of these travel grants.