Jessica Zubia coming at you from the great city of Las Cruces, New Mexico. It has reached my turn to contribute to the KR Blog spot. There is so much I want to say! A little background, I started my School of Information journey this past January and boy, has it been a ride. I was in my second semester as a full-time Library Assistant at Oñate High School. I had never worked full-time and attended school at the same time. But alas, I made it through. I started my Knowledge River journey in August 2015 with an orientation in Tucson. I got to meet all my wonderful colleagues in my cohort and cohorts before us and Gina, our amazing mentor.
This brings me to the present, seeing as it was Thanksgiving this past week, I just want to say how thankful I am for each and every one of you for being my support, my colleagues, but most of all my friends. After this semester, I will be at the halfway point in the program. It has been a difficult transition to strictly being an online student. But with the orientation at the beginning, and monthly meetings on Adobe Connect, I feel like I have the support I have been seeking since I started the program in January. It helps to see friendly faces and be able to voice concerns in real time.
With all of that being said, I would like to touch upon my first library conference that I have ever attended: The Arizona Library Association Conference in Flagstaff, Arizona! This adventure helped me in personal and professional ways. I rented my first car, made lodging arrangements and traveled alone for the first time in my life. Then at the conference I learned about so many new ideas that I could bring back to my schooling and my job as a Library Assistant as well. My two favorite parts of this conference was being able to attend with so many KR and School of Information scholars. It made the conference that much more memorable and fun! My second favorite part was the keynote speakers.
Patrick Sweeney was our first keynote speaker and he talked about making connections with people. This really resonated with me because I am shy and an introvert and he mentioned that! He also noted that introductions feel forced, and they are at these types of events, but they are vital to self-growth and most importantly, professional-growth. I really enjoyed his sense of humor and his honesty. It really made me think about my surroundings and getting out of my comfort zone and truly, making meaningful connections with people because you never know what might come from it.
Our second keynote speaker was Michael Stevens, a professor at San Jose State and wow, his talk just blew me away. I enjoyed his sense of humor and his down-to-earth sense of self. That is something I truly admire in people. But he gave us a talk about hyperlinking our libraries and to not limit ourselves just because “we have always done it this way.” Libraries are rapidly changing and we as information professionals need to change with it. Libraries are no longer warehouses of knowledge, but safe-spaces for people who feel overwhelmed by everyday things or just need to get away. I was surprised he did not mention Maker Spaces. They are all the rage, and the library I work at is hopping on the Maker Space wagon and we are providing space for creativity and best of all, learning in a different way to our students. We are allowing our students to be themselves and get away from “traditional” school learning. Something that Dr. Sweeney touched upon was that people do not just learn in structured environments like a classroom, but we learn EVERYWHERE! So why not make the library a non-traditional classroom where our patrons get to control what is being taught and learned?
In summation, Knowledge River has been a dream come true. It’s not just a program, it is the true definition of family, that support system for success. Attending this conference was amazing because it helped me open my mind to new ideas. My enthusiasm for being a librarian just continues to grow because for the two days I was there I saw a room full of community leaders and that is what I want for myself and for my community in which I serve.