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An Interview with a Conference First-Timer

It can be difficult to know what to expect at an event, particularly one that is new to you. That’s why we’re bringing in a little perspective this month, in the form of interviews with former conference attendees. Our first is with Elizabeth Hollenbeck, a first-timer at our 2016 Conference.

Last year was your first time attending the Literacy Texas Conference. What was it that first piqued your interest in the event?

EH: A colleague who had attended the year before raved about the experience and encouraged me to look into attending. I didn’t know what to expect because the material would be practically all new to me, but I was eager to check things out and felt confident I would learn a lot.

Literacy Texas holds regional symposiums, in addition to our statewide annual conference. What do you think are the benefits of the two types of events?

EH: I missed the symposium in January because I had the flu, so I don’t have first-hand experience with that event. However, I did arrange for two of my staff to attend, and they raved about the experience! I am very sad that I missed such a great opportunity. I imagine that the material and energy were very similar to the annual conference. The annual conference was a wonderful way to connect with other librarians and organizations across the state, so one benefit of attending a local symposium would be the chance to connect with folks and organizations closer to home where partnerships would be more easily made.

What are you most excited for at this year’s conference?

EH: I’m excited about learning more about working with volunteers to provide more/better services for adults. I’m also excited about learning some strategies for adult student retention and collecting outcome/impact data (as opposed to inputs/outputs) for our adult services and programs.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people attending for their first time?

EH: Don’t wait to register! Sign up right away and try to get a room in the conference hotel. There are lots of opportunities to share meals with new people and learn about what other libraries and organizations are doing in their communities. If you’re attending with colleagues, try to arrange it so that you attend different sessions than your coworkers so you can maximize the learning and collect the most handouts and resources to bring home. Also, be sure to take advantage of the final day’s workshops! Amazing knowledge at your fingertips. Enjoy!

Elizabeth Hollenbeck is the Reference Department Supervisor at McAllen Public Library in deep South Texas. She believes wholeheartedly in literacy and lifelong learning, and is passionate about working continuously to improve McAllen Public Library’s services to adults in the community.

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