Last week, Ft. Worth hosted the Texas Library Association (TLA) for its 100th conference. I had the privilege of attending along with about 7,000 of my colleagues. The Texas Library Association is the largest state-level library association in the country so it is well attended by vendors to the library industry as well as guest speakers and librarians from all types of libraries.
Now those of you not “in the library business” are wondering just what I mean by “all types of libraries.” It is something that never would have crossed my mind until I decided to get my graduate degree in library science. We’re all familiar with our school library and public library, and some even know about their university library, which librarians refer to as academic libraries. But there are medical libraries which are usually located at teaching hospitals. There are corporate libraries — Microsoft has one and employees a librarian with a Master of Library Science, not a Master of Computer Science. I met a librarian last week who used to work for the British Broadcasting Company library. He advised they actually have multiple libraries which specialize in different research for their productions.
Many large associations have their own libraries. There are law libraries for virtually every law firm of any size. Then there are information consultants who hire out individually to perform research. There are librarians who work for library vendors who sell shelving, furniture, carpet, and even those little stickers that tell you the book is a mystery or romance book. There’s a wide range of people who attend this conference.
One of the fun things in the exhibit hall at TLA conference is those who market themselves as performers for libraries. All those fun people who make it their business to entertain and educate your kids during summer reading programs are there. There are those who wear costumes and tell stories, like Mother Goose. There are those who wear funny hats and play guitar. There are many who use puppets and create interactive programs. Just about anything you want, if you can find the money there’s a performer to fit the bill.
Of course TLA is hard work as well as all that fun stuff in the exhibit hall. We meet and share best practices, learn about new technology, and get motivated to come back to our own libraries and be better servants to our community. Here are a few of the titles of programs from this year’s conference. Putting a new face on your library; Quality customer service on a budget; Up in the cloud: migrating IT to a new service model; Reference librarians and private investigators: more alike than you think; Developing a social media policy; A whole book approach to story time, Other worlds: science fiction and fantasy for teens, Getting a read on your borrowers: utilizing analytics to drive key decisions; I have an e-reader, now what; Legal reference and literature searching. If you want to know more just visit the TLA website at www.txla.org.
I love my chosen profession, though I must confess this is my third career. If you think you might want to be in this great career you’re in luck. You’ll need to earn a Master of Library or Master of Information Sciences degree from an academic program accredited by the American Library Association. There are roughly 50 in the U.S. and three of them are right here in Texas. They are University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University, and University of Texas. You can get the whole degree online from UNT and TWU and may be able to do so from UT. It’s a great career if you want to learn and serve in a variety of settings for years to come.