too broke

Last year, I went to ALA Midwinter for the first time. It was big news for me: I was an Emerging Leader with a nice scholarship from ALSC. It was exciting, challenging, and a total honor. Despite the fact that I’m a lousy traveler who gets homesick for NYC after even a weekend away, I found ALA to be rejuvenating, inspiring, and an all-around wonderful experience.

Paying for ALA Annual was very hard on me. Though I had the ALSC scholarship, stayed in a Super 8 motel with 3 other librarians, and rarely dined out, it wrecked me financially. Now, even paying the ALA membership is a strain. I dropped out of YALSA, not due to lack of interest, but because I just can’t afford it anymore.

Most of me just wants to obnoxiously whine about how unfair this all is: I’m constantly on the verge of another mass-layoff scare (which puts me in a precarious situation year after year), I pay NYC rent (albeit in Queens, but, like the cool part), and as a newish librarian, I don’t make enough money to shell out this kind of money twice a year. Why am I paying money in order to do more library work? But it’s more than all that. I have a number of ALA responsibilities (including being a mentor for a new group of Emerging Leaders) and I’m wary of working on them remotely without touching base with real, live people at Midwinter. I’m truly sad that I won’t be around any of the Midwinter energy. I love coming back to the boroughs, not only with many ideas and a renewed look at librarianship (OK, that sounds cheesy as hell, but it’s true), but also a sense of validation. Front-line public service librarians rarely get a good old pat on that back, and being an Emerging Leader and attending conferences gave me some recognition. I was surprised about how much I needed someone to tell me that I was doing a good job and that the work I was doing was important.

This isn’t a rant against ALA. ALA has been good to me. I need these conferences. I need the mental recharge. I need to step outside my little library world and see what else is out there. Otherwise, I end up lacking in perspective and ending up with some sort of intellectual stagnation. Without actually attending the conferences, I feel disjointed from the committee obligations I have.

Worst of all, I feel like all my friends are having a giant party and I wasn’t invited.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

About magpielibrarian

Youth Services Librarian, Mediocre Crafter, Urban Magpie, Glitter Addict, and Worshiper of Ridiculous Outfits, Emerging Leader 2012, Former Rainbow Book List Member, and GLBT RT Director-at-Large! This is what a librarian looks like, kids.

7 responses »

  1. Sucks that you aren’t going to be there for us too! We could videochat you in?

  2. Shannon says:

    That stinks. Has your library ever considered paying for you to go? Ours will send a few people to a conference and pay for their hotel, travel (gas or air), food, and even pay us an hourly wage for the hours we are there. Granted, you aren’t always given permission to everything you want to go to, but we have opportunities. Ask your library! They should want you to be as informed as possible! ❤ you! 🙂

    • I absolutely support libraries who send their employees to conferences, but as we have 200+ vacancies in our system that we can’t afford to fill and practically no book budget, there’s no way. That time is long since gone in our system.

  3. I’m not hanging out without you. I’d never play you that way, boo.

  4. Amanda Viana says:

    Totally hear you on this one! With budget cuts, our professional development budget is frozen. Wondering if I can swing my ALA/RUSA memberships, let alone get myself to Seattle. leftbehind2013 (and probably forever)

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