The 2018 ALA Annual Conference was a welcome panoply of first-time experiences for me. It was my first professional conference, my first time attending an ALA event, and my first time visiting the city of New Orleans.
I traveled to ALA Annual 2018 to receive the Jan Merrill-Oldham Professional Development Grant from ALCTS for demonstrating exemplary professional activity as a rising library and information science professional. The award recognizes new professionals who are working in the area of collections preservation, either analog or digital, across a range of cultural heritage settings. This was an incredibly meaningful award to receive while still a graduate student, affirming the level of expertise and excellence that I will bring to the profession once I matriculate from The Catholic University of America.
The New Orleans setting was vibrant and full of energy—the perfect locale for the conference, which was opened by Michelle Obama, addressed by keynote speaker Carla Hayden, and closed by Emmy Award–winning Hollywood actress Viola Davis. It was a heart-stopping line-up of talented women who shared their experiences and expertise.
The conversations that I joined at the conference were as varied as flavors found in the kitchens of New Orleans.Juán-Pabló González
For a library and information science student, Annual Conference presents an exceptional opportunity to network and engage with professionals from a range of specializations within the library and information science field, and to become a part of the fabric of the most current conversations about the intellectual directions of the profession. The conversations that I joined at the conference were as varied as flavors found in the kitchens of New Orleans. The conference offered an array of panels that hosted general conversation, presented research findings, provided leadership inspiration, and incorporated an intersectional perspective that related the library profession to the ways in which our social, psychological, and technological environments are evolving. There were also opportunities for library and information science students to present research and lead panels, allowing for pre-professionals to become fully involved.
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities extended to me through recognition by the ALCTS and ALA. Because of the professional development grant, I was able to make intellectual and social connections that would otherwise have remained out of reach to me.
I look forward to attending the 2019 ALA Annual Conference, which will be held in Washington, D.C., where I reside and attend The Catholic University of America. I also look forward to seeing a new cohort of pre-professionals benefiting from the opportunities that have been extended to me by ALCTS and ALA.