The New York Library Association Conference
Saratoga Springs, NY

November 2023

The opportunity to attend the NYLA 2023 Annual Conference and Trade Show meant so much to me as it was my first in-person conference since changing careers and starting work in the Mid York Library System. The theme of the conference this year was “Revive Refresh Rekindle”. The seminars and speaker sessions that I attended were filled with the opportunity to listen, learn and collaborate with others in the field of public library work. Not only did this conference help me to revive, refresh and rekindle but there are many ideas that I will bring back to my library to help the community that we serve.

My first day began with the keynote address by ALA President, Emily Drabinski. Her positive attitude and message were very inspiring. Although she acknowledged the challenges we are currently facing in the world of library work, her tenacious spirit that we WILL overcome and that there are SO many more supporters when it comes to the freedom to read and express ideas than the small but very vocal minority trying to ban books and ideas made me feel energized and ready for the day ahead. It is very refreshing in and of itself just to know that you are around a group of people who feel strongly about standing up for similar ideals that you think about, work on and “fight” for every day. I was ready to listen, share and learn!

Later that day, I had the fortune of hearing Stephanie “Cole” Adams speak at the ESLN luncheon. She has a great way of sharing legal knowledge in an engaging, straightforward and practical way. We have the law on our side and there IS help out there! The last session I attended on my first day was “Menstrual Literacy and Advocacy In Libraries” presented by Rakisha Kearns-White, BPL’s own “period librarian” and founder of the Cycle Alliance. She provided thorough information and gave great suggestions to engage people of all ages in period advocacy. I look forward to discussing her presentation at our next programming meeting.

The next day started with a wonderful lecture by Nellie Brown on occupational stress. She explained the chemistry involved in stress and gave many helpful, realistic suggestions to apply to help lighten the toll it can take. I ended the day’s sessions with Joshua Martinez from Britannica Education who discussed culturally responsive practices. While the session was geared a little more towards school libraries and classrooms, I feel I gained insight thinking about how what he shared can apply to the community at large that we serve in the public library.

The Intellectual Freedom Breakfast on Saturday was a wonderful atmosphere for sharing inspiring stories and resources in the fight against censorship and book banning. Attending one final seminar, “Censorship: Then and Now”, was the perfect way to continue the conversation from the breakfast. All in all, the feeling that we have support both in each other and so many others in our communities was truly refreshing and reviving.

I left conference on Saturday feeling revived and ready to talk to my colleagues and community about some great new ideas. I am very grateful for CLRC’s Professional Development Award for providing me with the opportunity to attend the 2023 NYLA Annual Conference and Trade Show.

Jaime Dudajek-Burgdoff

Library Assistant, Dunham Public Library

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