By Kellie Sparks, University of West Florida
I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about my library position. As the social media coordinator for the University of West Florida libraries, I love that the lines of work and play are often completely blurred. My work day consists of finding the right visuals and crafting the right words to demonstrate our value to the rest of the university. So, when I saw that PLAN was offering a scholarship to attend a professional development conference designed for library marketers, I jumped at the chance. It seemed like the perfect place to learn even more about how as a librarian, I could become a better communicator and gather fresh ideas on how to market UWF libraries more effectively.
As it turns out, the Library Marketing and Communications Conference was my dream conference! Set in snowy St. Louis, Missouri, the conference was bursting with librarians and marketing professionals who gathered to discuss, analyze, and master the art of marketing libraries. The multiple conference tracks presented a variety of options: Communications/PR, Graphic Design/Technology, Social Media, Marketing Strategies & Tools, Partnerships/Advocacy, Engagement, Internal Marketing, and Promoting Library Programs & Services. These unique tracks included sessions that were spread over the course of two days and each session typically allowed for active discussion and engagement among conference goers. A library “swag swap” accompanied these sessions with a wide variety of items from libraries across the country. Each brightly colored brochure and bookmark provided instant inspiration for future marketing endeavors and a great opportunity to see how other librarian marketers approached their print and digital outreach initiatives.
While I found the sessions informative, the conversations between peers stood out as my favorite part of the conference. Meeting library creatives who shared and understood the thrill of finding the perfect image, the time and dedication it takes to create and edit a social media video, and the rush of waking up in the middle of the night with a flash of creative inspiration, was a unique comfort we felt as a collective. The conversations continued with numerous opportunities for dine-arounds and fun activities to meet up with new and old friends. It was great to see and hear the stories of both library marketing successes and failures. It was definitely the first conference I had ever been to where I felt like every session was a must-see. Hope to see you at the next LMCC conference!