If you aren't afraid, you aren't paying attention. - Bumper sticker
This past week I was fortunate to participate in the North Carolina School Library Media Association conference in Winston-Salem. My old friend Rusty Taylor was there, and along with Deanna Harris, I was given a real dose of Southern hospitality. Wonderful working with these lively and involved people.
The NCSLMA conference attendance was down this year, according to Rusty. Quite a bit down. He reported Virginia and some other states' conference numbers are also sagging. Our MEMO conference here in Minnesota seems to be about half the size it was only a few years ago. Is this a national/international trend?
Since conferences tend to be one of the THE major revenue generations for state associations, it might be wise to spend a few minutes thinking about the reason behind dropping conference attendance by school librarians. Among the possible causes:
- Fewer practicing school librarians
- Fewer staff development dollars available to educators
- Irrelevant conference programming
- Changed staff development needs/expectations by newer practitioners
- More non-F2F staff development opportunities (virtual conferences, online seminars, etc)
- Technology conferences bleeding attendees from library conferences
- Professional learning communities actually work
Should the diminished attendance be of concern to school librarians? If so, how do we reverse the trend?
If you, dear reader, did not attend your school library association's state conference this year, why not?