Why attend conferences? We all like to travel and see new places; but how useful are conferences for library staff?
The South Carolina State library believes that encouraging library staff to take part in gatherings of library professionals at the state and national level will result in better informed, more enthusiastic, more highly skilled library workers. Conferences can excite and motivate, inform and enlighten. Conferences help expand library worker’s understanding of and currency with library trends and practices. They provide an opportunity to attend sessions that will contribute to the employee’s skills and knowledge base. Conferences allow library staff to network and enlarge their contact with colleagues statewide and nationwide.
Conference-going is not a frill, but a necessary element in the continuing education of library staff. The State Library’s goal is to create channels through which library workers can communicate the excitement and the experience of going to a conference, and share what was learned with colleagues and co-workers, leading to overall improvement in services to library users.
Many conferences, and most travel, are costly. Libraries have not been able to budget for staff to attend conferences in recent years. To assist libraries to send staff to conferences, the State Library makes grants on a limited basis. Grants funded through the Library Services and Technology Act for public, academic, and school librarians to attend conferences are available year-round.
The State Library awarded 22 LSTA grants to conference-goers in FFY2019, representing 17 county public libraries.
South Carolina conferences are often held locally or just a few hours drive away, and the costs are more modest. If staff does not qualify for an LSTA grant, there may be other funds available. Friends of the Library groups may offer to pick up the cost for staff to attend local or even national conferences.