Lastweek, I attended my second code4Lib national conference in Philadelphia. I’ve attended a previous code4Lib after winning a diversity scholarship in 2015 (Raleigh, NC). After attending ACRL, ALA Midwinter, LITA Forum and ALA Annual, I have to say that code4Lib is one of my favorite conferences to attend.
There are some obvious reasons I enjoy this conference. For one, I feel that code4lib is very welcoming. There are newcomer dinners and social events (there’s an excellent board game night) that helps support networking among colleagues. I was part of the scholarship winner luncheon, and it was great meeting recipients.
I like to describe code4lib to other tech librarians, that its a conference where everyone speaks the same language. However, that isn’t necessarily true all of the time. Some of talks can be confusing, filled with esoteric terms and/or unintelligible acronyms. Yet, you can usually go up to someone and ask what those terms or acronyms mean.
Unlike other national conferences code4Lib doesn’t have an hierarchy. I volunteered to work on the scholarship and website planning groups, so I could use my skills to contribute to the conference.
You learn a lot at code4Lib. You’re exposed to a wide range of technology and library matters that doesn’t come up in your day to day work. Granted, its just the tip of the iceburg, but I feel more compelled to read about triplestore databases, RDF, linked data, and Electron.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, one of the reason I find code4Lib so enjoyable is that it gives you time for self-reflection. Becky Yoose gave a very impassioned talk about libtech burnout. Not only to checking in with yourself, but also with your co-workers and those you supervise. Its very rare that this happens to me, but I was so moved about how easy it is to put off self-care in a service profession, that I had to leave the conference and just take a 10 minute walk to reflect on what I had heard.
I also gave pause when the conference’s programming group gave a presentation on the lack of diversity within the program. This is one of the main reasons I joined the diversity scholarship group. I feel its important that librarians from a wide range of backgrounds participate in large conferences such as this. After all, if its libraries’ missions to meet the needs of their communities, I think its important that librarians can relate to their communities.
I’m excited that the next national conference is going to be in Tennessee, in a city not too far from the one I grew up in within eastern Kentucky. I’m also enthused that there is an active code4lib groups in both New York City and the state. I’m sure the next conference is going to be amazing, but this last one is going to be pretty hard to top.