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I was lucky enough to attend the American Library Association Annual Conference recently. This is a single conference where over 20,000 librarians from across the globe come together to share, learn, and revitalize. This conference only comes once a year, and I often forget in between conferences, how big an impact these sessions and networking opportunities make on my life, both personal and work. Each year this conference provides hundreds of informational sessions, various committee meetings, networking opportunities, and of course amazing guest speakers.

This year’s conference was by far one of the biggest star-studded conferences I have ever attended. The opening session speaker was Michelle Obama and the closing session speaker was actress Viola Davis. These two women represent strong, intelligent, vibrant, and dedicated women. Their messages to females everywhere were empowering and enlightening. No matter what your political views may be, hearing these women speak about their triumphs, failures, perseverance, and stamina, was empowering and I will carry those messages with me forever.

Between these two speakers, I was blessed to get to attend a preview of the new Emilio Estevez movie, “The Public”, which will be airing in late Fall 2018. Emilio Estevez himself attended to do a Q&A following the movie showings. He is a very dedicated, impassioned individual that greatly cares about his community and people in general. He and his father, Martin Sheen, spend a majority of their time on volunteering and philanthropy. His depiction of the life in a public library was accurate and inspiring. This movie helped remind me why I come to work every day and why I give 100 percent all the time. I am dedicated in my career because, I too, want to help people. Watch for this movie in the fall. It will pull at your heart strings and help understand a day in the life of a public library; a community unto itself.

Beyond these speakers, I was also able to attend many great sessions related to IT in libraries, education and programming, STEM learning, community engagement, fundraising, library virtual tours, and how to be a woman administrator in a male dominant environment. These sessions helped build on my current knowledge, as well as provided insights and ideas that I had not yet realized. I will be able to implement many of the ideas into our current service models and processes to make improvements and simplify them as well.

My staff probably dreads my attending the conferences because my emails back to them with suggestions and ideas generally start with my first sessions and don’t end until I get back to work. I am simply overtaken by all the suggestions and possibilities that exist as far as providing services and support to our community. I usually bombard staff with questions about how and why we do things a certain way and if we can rethink those processes. Feeling recharged and energized, I look forward to the next year.

Tina Walker is Director of Keene Memorial Library in Fremont.

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