In this series of posts, we talk to librarians who went on overseas conferences and learning trips to have them share their experience and some learning points.
Galvin Soh was awarded the LAS Overseas Professional Development Sponsorship 2017 to attend the 3rd Library Marketing and Communications Conference (LMCC) that took place in Dallas, Texas from 16-17 November 2017. This conference is designed for library workers involved in marketing and publicity of a library, and is attended mainly by North American librarians in Canada and the USA. Library marketing and communications is a fairly new field within librarianship, and Galvin applied for the LAS sponsorship with the support and encouragement of his colleagues and boss. Galvin told us that even though it is a small conference with about 350 attendees, the excitement and atmosphere was palpable. The following is our short interview with him.
Please introduce yourself.
I’m Galvin from Public Libraries, National Library Board. I am currently looking after services and content for the adults (18-49) age group. I have been a librarian for 11 years, with most of the time spent in public service taking care of programming for various segments.
I worked as a communications and outreach librarian at the Singapore Management University Library from 2015-2017. Library marketing is a pretty niche area and there typically isn’t a lot of librarians who have that as their main job scope (although every librarian does marketing in one form or another). It was there that I heard about the Library Marketing and Communications Conference held annually in the United States and attended by librarians and professionals in a marketing function from public and academic libraries in North America and Canada. A room full of other librarians who spoke the same language and faced the same problems as I did – I was so chuffed to know such an event took place and knew I had to go.
I would like to thank the LAS for this opportunity. Without the sponsorship, I would not have had the motivation to travel so far and the chance to experience all that which make me proud of being a librarian.
Tell us more about the conference.
The conference was held in Addison, a suburb in Dallas, Texas, a mere 26-hour journey from Singapore. It was the 3rd year the conference was being held with the attendance growing year by year. The excitement and sheer palpitation of the 356 conference delegates was felt on Twitter (see for yourself – search for the official conference hashtag #lmcc17) – everyone was raring to start learning from the speakers and from each other. There were 7 tracks, 2 keynotes and 9 sessions spread over the 2 days (16-17 November 2017). The tracks ranged from the Marketing Cycle, Public Relations Campaigns, User-Centered Design and Data-Driven Decision-Making. There was just so much useful and relevant information that it was a pity I could not split myself up to be at different locations.
Which were the most memorable sessions?
The first presentation I chose to attend was on a Big Read campaign experience by Duquesne University. Big Read is an annual campaign funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. It focuses on a single book which surrounds all the various community events that have to be organized for the campaign. Each campaign typically receives $5,000 – $15,000 USD and it was amazing to see the amount of support the university had and how much they did with such a small budget. It was especially relevant as I am also working on a similar national campaign currently.
I particularly enjoyed 2 other sessions – the keynote delivered on the first day on Libraries, Crises and Social Media – knowing how other libraries put out their social media fires, and a session titled “What Your Data Is (and Isn’t!) Telling You. The session on data opened my eyes to other ways of interpreting data and was impressed by the passionate delivery by the speaker (I wish I recorded it).
Did you visit any libraries during the trip?
Even though this conference did not include any official visits to the local libraries, I made a trip to the city and visited the Dallas Public Library. The library was pretty huge for a public library with 8 floors. You can learn a lot about the city just by looking at the services offered by a library and the way it is used by its people. What struck me was how warm and open library was – with reference counters being manned by friendly librarians on almost every floor, and inclusive signs that all were welcome. I especially loved their seed and LP (vinyl records) collection and wished we had that here!
LMCC 2018 will be held from 14-15 November in St Louis, Missouri. Interested applicants should refer to the official website for more details. For more information on LAS overseas professional development awards and other grants, please visit the LAS website.