quick review of my weekend in minneapolis

Quickie observations, insights, discoveries, and revelations.

1. The Midwest doesn’t suck. Oops for thinking it did. It has pretty nature, clean streets, good food, and friendly people. Also, does it have an obsession with aioli?

2. Keynote opening speaker: Stephen Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. Excellent talk, must read his book. Neuroplasticity is like neural mapping–it’s that part of neuroscience that I understand conceptually without having to remember without drawing a cell, so I love it. Also, I wonder if the current tendency towards multitasking and multimedia extravaganzas is linked to what I see as a rise in more of my peers choosing multiple college majors in disparate fields or going towards interdisciplinary studies. Hyperlinking gives us access to so many new ideas, and I know in my experience, it has made me more interested in investigating other areas of study. Could be interesting to look into…

3. At the YALSA/ALA booth in the vendor exhibits, I got to meet a lot of the people I’ve been meeting via the Internet who work for or with the wonderful organization that is giving me money to go to school and get all kinds of extras like stipends for conferences. Not only are these people pretty awesome, but they way pumped up my ego by implying that I am already kind of famous in their circles, and that they want me to present at conferences and volunteer for committees and stuff. Sweet.

4. Librarians are so dynamic! They innovate (or innovent, like Jack Donaghy) and run businesses and do really cool programming and utilize digital media much more effectively and efficiently and knowledgeably than I do. It’s not just about sitting in the library.

5. Librarians are such happy nerds! At closing ceremony parties, they dance to EVERYTHING, and they even do the Electric Slide to songs that are not “The Electric Slide.”

6. I did not dance, but I did realize that I remember how to do the Electric Slide.

7. Everyone but me, at least in the school librarianship field, has both an iPhone AND an iPad. One or the other is not enough.

8. School librarianship involves a lot of curriculum support. I kind of forgot about the whole education and curriculum part of schools. It’s not just book clubs and reader’s advisory. But still, pretty cool.

9. After attending a session on them and meeting people who work in them, I am more, not less, interested in working as a librarian in a juvenile detention or treatment facility, even though it seems exceedingly difficult to teach, engage, and influence in an environment like that and with facilities that don’t have huge collections or Internet. Also was heartened to see evidence that teens in those facilities desire to be pushed and challenged, and want interactive, meaningful learning, not busywork and a GED.

10. Middle school never ends. Cliques are as present at professional conferences as they are in seventh grade.

11. WHY DOES TUCSON NOT HAVE LIGHTRAIL?! So preeety.

12. Closing speaker: Dr. Mimi Ito. Finally, someone who understands that teens’ obsession with digital and social media isn’t all bad, and both formal and informal education can harness that for good. Finally, someone who understands that teens who engage with media in a meaningful way, creating video projects, making zines, writing blogs, etc, achieve a lot even outside of that realm. Finally, someone who understands that the teens who do that would probably do just fine in life anyway, so we need to find a way to close the gap between those who have access to basic media devices, like cell phones and dialup, and those who have flipcams and Macbook Pros.

13. NYPL has the awesomest resources for teen programming ever. Kind of want to work there.

14. Why have I never heard of lip dubs before, and how can I do one? So. Awesome.

15. WWNorton will always be the king of publishers.

16. Yes, library service, lit/media/cultural studies, teenagers–this is what I’m meant to do. I won’t be changing my program to school library, mostly just because it’s not really possible within the constraints of my particular program without adding a lot of time and money to it, but I learned a lot at the conference sessions, and I still have to download the sessions I missed and read and watch the materials I was given, which include tons of ARCs and fresh copies of books, magazines and journals, and a PBS documentary relating to Dr. Ito’s research. I met plenty of people who are librarians and who also write creatively or academically, who are entrepreneurs, who research, who consult, who have speaking engagements, who create media. Clearly it’s possible to be very, very dynamic in this field. I’m so happy I’m here.

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