What can I contribute?

I’m a new academic librarian, and have yet to write an article or present at a conference. There are so many areas of interest, and so many people contributing, that it’s hard for me to know where to begin. For one thing, I don’t have faculty status (and I’m OK with that), so I’m not required to “publish or perish.” And most of the time, I’m too busy with my day to day “librarianating” to look ahead and actually, you know, plan stuff.

Also, it’s difficult for me to believe that I have something fresh and worthwhile to offer, especially when I look at conference programs and think,

“Wow, how cool!”


“I’ve never even *heard* of that”


“How did they find the time to do all of that research?”

Surely I can’t be the only one who feels this way. I cast out some feelers on this topic to librarians on Google Plus and got the following advice:

—“You have information worth sharing. That’s a very general statement, but everyone has something they are The Expert in. The trick is to figure out what your topic/field is. Once you’ve decided, you’d look for conferences geared towards that topic.”

—“Identify what you know, and what interests you. What unique/interesting slant can you give it? Then find a conference. Check out previous presentations, hopefully online ones. Talk to the organisers and offer to do a freebie, or a small workshop type event to get your name known and tweeted. Repeat until you get asked.” 🙂

—“Figure out what you love and what you want to share and then go for it. Remember that you’ll be sharing your knowledge with a great community, too! Don’t feel apprehensive about it. I think the best thing about presenting is the people that I meet through it all – that’s where I’ve learned the most.”

—“Come up with an idea you want to present, find people to present with you because it is easier/more fun with a panel, plus it might help your nerves if you present with someone who has presented before, submit a proposal when there is call for conference proposals at a conference you’ll be at anyway. At least in my state, I think selection committees to make room for everyone who wants to present. I hope this helps.”


7 thoughts on “What can I contribute?

  1. I feel the exact same way! I’ve had two publishing opportunities that are non-librarian, but I would love to start writing articles and presenting at conferences. Like you, I am considered staff at my university but I still wish the publishing responsibility was present. I’ve subscribed to so many listservs that often send call for proposals to my inbox. Due to nerves, I haven’t tried to send any proposals yet, but I’m bracing myself to kick those nerves out the window. I keep reminding myself that failure is easy, but it takes courage to succeed.

    Good luck and I hope to read/see your conference presentations soon!

  2. Whew, I’m glad it’s not just me. Yeah, when I see those calls for proposals I get simultaneously excited and nervous. Good luck to you too!

  3. You’re actually in a little better shape than me because you aren’t in charge of a department/floor (and no, having an “assistant” is NOT all it’s cracked up to be). I was invited to do something for NTRLS on my use of LibraryThing but have not really followed up on that – because actually my audience would be classroom teachers and not librarians. I’m actually glad NOT to be at a school where we have faculty status. I have friends that are that have presented at TechNet and such and frankly, I’m not impressed by their presentations – it’s pretty clear they are doing them because they HAVE to. I’m at a stage in my life where I don’t feel a need to move up (which would probably require moving out) but I understand that’s not going to be the case for everyone. 🙂

    Curious what you and C. were doing on “ACRL Instruction Assessment” today….

  4. Great post and I *love* the Surely link 🙂

    I’m adding you to my Blogroll… http://nfaa.wordpress.com

    The first Librarian 🙂

  5. Hi Amanda,
    You know, maybe you should do the NTRLS thing–just to remind teachers how helpful librarians can be.
    I’m glad I don’t have to worry about faculty status, either. I don’t want to get into details here, but feel free to drop me a line or come by my office if you want more info about the other thing. :0)

  6. Hi Alexander,
    Thanks for reading, and for adding me to your blogroll. Glad you liked the movie link! I have another one in this post, though it isn’t nearly as silly. :0)

  7. Actually, the NTRLS presentation would have been to librarians – I was asked to do it for TechNet. NTRLS used to have a Childrens and Youth Services Conference that would have been a better fit, but it’s been “postponed indefinitely due to lack of funding.”

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