Today officially marks one month until the 8th New Librarians’ Symposium at the National Library of Australia, Canberra. Looking back on the past year and a half leading up-to this point I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on how the conference planning team came together and how we’ve grown into a tight-knit little family online. It’s nice to know all of us will stand together on the steps of the National Library and celebrate (and mourn?) the beginning and end of something we’ve worked so hard for.
The first email I can find in my inbox about NLS8 goes all the way back to August, 2015. I attended my first ever library conference, NLS7 in Sydney and had written my name down on a piece of paper to express my interest in planning the next symposium. Come to think of it, I was probably jostling with my fellow committee members… I wish I knew then and there so I could say hi and give them each a hug.
From the first email a group of at least 15 people came together to hash out a theme for the conference. We settled on DIY Library Career over a Skype chat and the rest is history. The numbers dwindled over the coming months as they naturally do when life commitments take over. We were left with the core nine members (special shoutout to our ALIA champions too) who each have their strengths and unique place in the team. Our personalities and interests are so diverse it’s almost cliche’ to say that opposites attract and in our professional lives it’s mostly the same. We have some health librarians, law librarians, ALIA volunteers, library students, cataloguers, and tech-whizzes. We’ve got yogis, cat lovers, dog lovers, a musician, a drag queen, a dragon-boater, book clubbers, tinder daters, city-folk and country-folk, and all around lovely people.
We’ve supported each other through personal and professional struggles, we’ve been empathetic, crass, bristly, and proud. We’ve cheered each other on with career successes, offered advice for things like mobile phones to makeup, how to ace a job interview, and how to land a date! We’ve done the majority of this online through an app called Slack, which to me is slightly reminiscent of early 00’s chatrooms… only less seedy. Our group meetings are usually over Google Hangouts where tiaras, pirate beards, and devil horns filter important discussions and decisions. Team NLSgr8 as we like to call ourselves is the very definition of a dispersed project team and we are crushing it hard.
So, all in all, I’m grateful for the quick decision I made when I wrote my name on that piece of paper at NLS7. I took a chance and committed to working with a group of complete strangers – a group of people who I am now happy to call my friends. When we get to Canberra in June, I’ll be meeting the majority of my team mates in-person for the first time and yet I know we will embrace like brothers and sisters because you can’t go through something like #NLS8 and not be family.
NLS8 Program Captain