I first attended NCLA as a student during my first semester of graduate school in 2017, so this time around it was nice being able to experience the conference with a little more intent and a little less bewilderment. Most of the sessions I attended and enjoyed were about programming and professional/personal development.  

I kicked off my conference learning about a True Crime Day event organized by the Cumberland County Public Library. My expertise in the area of true-crime stops just short of the occasional podcast or a “ripped-from-the-headlines” Law & Order episode, so I thought it would be interesting to check out what a True Crime event would look like. Librarians Matthew Kleven, Nora Armstrong, and Sabrina Taylor coordinated a day of panel sessions with presentations from local crime reporters and private investigators. They also worked with a local community college to stage a crime scene for attendees. It was amazing to hear that event was so well-received and only cost the library $40.

Other programming highlights included:

  • Student participation in ZSR’s very own Graphic Novel Book Club
  • A plethora of resources that can be accessed through the State Archives of North Carolina
  • The work of Samatha Crisp, director of the Outer Banks History Center, collaborating with a local homeschool network to develop fun educational programming for students. 
  • Resources available to North Carolina libraries via the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. 

On  Friday I attended “Developing your personal brand as a librarian”. It was an insightful session with an emphasis placed on being mindful and reflective of self-presentation.  The panel also featured tips for self-assessing your role and being able to understand and articulate how it adds value to an organization. I’m not much of a social media maven so I really appreciated that the focus was not entirely on building a persona for the Internet, you can build and maintain clout among your peers and patrons from knowing your job and performing effectively through face-to-face interactions. 

More topics of interest featuring Personal and Professional Development:

  • UNCG librarians using in-reach to host peer-led professional development courses for librarians with the “Teaching Tuesdays” program. 
  • Hidden biases in hiring practices  
  • Hearing North Carolina-based poet Jaki Shelton Green twice at the conference: first, through a REMCO hosted conversation and again at the closing keynote. I was inspired by her thoughts on the importance of story keeping and using travel as a form of self-care. 

Although this was not my first time attending NCLA, it was my first time presenting a poster at a conference. It was great working with Jess and learning about the ways oral histories can be used and managed, specifically in a digital environment. Based on the comments and questions we received, a lot of organizations are just getting started with collecting oral histories or don’t really know how to move further with what they have. I enjoyed the experience and look forward to continuing research in this area that will hopefully not only help the oral history collection at ZSR, but will also be useful for other organizations.