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This year’s NCLA conference was the first one for several years that I’ve attended in its entirety, and I was glad that I did. It was also good to have the conference back in Winston-Salem after it had been in Greenville and Hickory last, so in many ways it was like a homecoming and the chance to reconnect with colleagues and friends from across the state. Plus, I could say that I really did know the president! There were several memorable moments from the 2013 conference for me, and they made it a unique experience.

Sessions. I attended several sessions that are outside of my normal duties, and I was glad because they increased my understanding of areas of library work that I normally don’t see. I leaned about the history of the “Congressional Record of the United States”, the podcast “Let’s Talk Learning Spaces”, and a presentation for research literacy where the library takes a role in research and grant proposals at a university. I also enjoyed a presentation by Derrik and a panel about electronic resource management systems, learning more about some of the recent systems on the market.

Free beer vs. free kittens. In a session about receiving gifts and donations, the presenters told the audience about their experiences of dealing with items received as materials given to the library through various means. Their stories reflected tales in resource services over the years about what to do with these items, and I know that it has been raised in other libraries at various times. The presenters also referred to an article written by Rick Anderson called “The Myth of the Free Gift“, about how some donations can be easily absorbed with little effort (a “free beer”) while others bring unexpected concerns about care and feeding (a “free kitten”). If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Poster session. Although I’ve presented at conferences before, I had never done a poster session. As an attendee at NCLA’s Leadership Institute last fall, I was informed that participants would be expected to present at this year’s NCLA conference in some fashion and I knew what I wanted to do. I’ve been researching library services for first-generation students at Wake Forest as part of my research project for the Institute over the past year, and I turned some of my findings into a poster session that I presented on Thursday afternoon.

The session was supposed to last for half an hour, but I took questions for almost 45 minutes. The experience was a positive one, and now I don’t feel so hesitant about the next opportunity!

In all, this biennium’s conference was a good experience. I’ve started thinking about participating at the next conference in 2015; but in the meantime I’m going to look more into podcasting. A “Power of ‘Z'” show, perhaps?