Last month, I attended the SLA Annual Conference in Boston, MA! It was my first time traveling to the US on my own, my first visit to Boston, but my second time to the SLA (last year, it was in Vancouver). I cannot express enough how gratifying and inspiring it is to attend a congregation of information professionals who share the same dreams and challenges!
The conference badges only allowed you to have one occupation, so because I was presenting a poster for Musée Héritage Museum, and work there 3 days a week, that was what I went with. Regardless, I was able to attend sessions for each of my jobs, which were equally as informative and inspiring.
This year, for the first time, the conference organizers held a Joint Poster Session and invited seasoned professionals, new professionals, and students alike to submit proposals based on the Be Revolutionary! theme. To my pleasant surprise, my poster on the marketing strategies used by Musée Héritage Museum was accepted! With a profound amount of support from the staff at the museum and from the rest of the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert, I was able to put together a poster that reflected how sometimes "being revolutionary" can mean using basic, grass roots strategies to draw interest. you can read more about my poster session experience on the museum blog!
In the production of my poster, I utilized 2 great, free online tools! The first is Canva, a platform that allows you to make beautiful works of graphic design online at no cost! You do have the option of purchasing certain add-ons as on other similar media, but most Canva elements are available free of charge. You can use it to make anything from business cards to Facebook cover photos to menus to invitations and of course, customizable posters, down to its dimensions! After completing your design, you can choose to download it as an image file, or as a high resolution PDF. Canva is my new dear friend. My new dear addicting friend.
The second is called Spoonflower, which is actually a fabric-printing site. Did you know that you can print a poster on fabric too? Just as you would with creating your own printed fabric, you simply upload an image, and select the size and type of fabric that you would like it to be printed on. It makes for an easy, lightweight poster to travel with! Just fold it up, stick it in your suitcase, and press the creases out with an iron when you reach your destination. Who needs a poster tube?
Even though this was only my second time attending SLA, I felt so much more confident and relaxed. I already knew how to get the most out of sessions as possible, how to approach fellow professionals in the field and make connections with them, and how to effectively collect as much conference swag as possible. I went on extravagant adventures with librarians I didn't know before the Boston trip, in search of free reception food at the Westin (the primary hotel of the conference), listened to librarians rocking it out at the karaoke party, and danced the night away with librarians who just love to have a good time.
I am still learning more and more about the field, but I am 12 months more of an information professional than I was at the last conference! I currently serve on the board of the SLA Western Canada Chapter as their Membership Chair, and because of that, I made an effort to connect with the other wonderful beings who also sit on this board, whom I had previously only heard the voices of via teleconference. It was great to match faces to names, bounce ideas off of each other over some delicious Bostonian food.
By the way, if you are in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories, or Nunavut, please reach out to us as you belong to our chapter too! We always welcome new faces, and are constantly seeking new ideas and opportunities for our members :)
If you are on the fence about attending SLA, I would highly encourage you to take on the opportunity wholeheartedly, or even to attend any other library conference out there! Perhaps, I will see some of you in Philly next year!