I spent the last three days in the company of men and women who strive daily to make information and literature available to the widest audience possible. Librarians seek to expand their patrons' horizons and supply materials and resources for them in all their endeavors. The Texas Library Association has been supporting these efforts since 1902.
The TLA exhibit hall was full of companies offering online information resources, foreign language instruction packages, library management software and library furnishings. Publishers display new fiction and nonfiction titles while authors sign books and maintain cheerful smiles for fans who queue for their few moments of face time. Apparel vendors supply garments and jewelry that promote reading and librarians in sparkling rhinstones, applique or embroidery.
Gifted storytellers, musicians, authors, illustrators discuss their work in presentations that were thoughtfully prepared and shared.
I've been attending TLA for well over a decade now (good gad!) and the opportunity to visit with other librarians and connect with old friends and acquaintances is utterly refreshing and revitalizing.
Unlike a grade level teacher, school librarians are often "lone rangers" on their campus. They must constantly add new content and new lessons to their programs. Some projects repeat from year to year but there are always new stories to share and new technologies to add their students' information skills.
I know budgets are tight and schedules are full but I find the benefits of attending this conference are worth sacrifices. It contributes to my growth as a professional and to my sense of belonging to a community that is truly committed to a noble purpose.