October 19, 2009

To Conference, Or Not To Conference

Librarians love conferences! There is always an opportunity to attend a conference when you are a librarian. Depending on which associations you are a member of, you probably receive conference reminders at least monthly if not weekly. Some of the associations I am affiliated with dedicate whole monthly publications to annual conferences. Although I would love to attend every conference I am invited to, I have trouble weighing the cost of going to a conference with the benefit. As an unemployed librarian - well, while I am employed, I am not employed as a librarian per se - I don't have a ton of money. This makes making the choice of attending conferences very difficult.

I understand that I have the option of presenting at a conference in order to get a better rate, but it's not exactly the conference part that breaks the bank, it's the price of hotels that will ultimately convince me not to go. I don't have a lot of professional contacts who would be comfortable splitting the price of a hotel room with me, so I'm usually going it alone when it comes to conferences. Most conferences last 3 to 4 days. That totals at least 3 nights in a hotel, unless of course you attend the events the night before the conference, then you have to pony up another night at a hotel. The last conference I thought of attending was in a city that I don't live in. Not only would I have to drive or fly all the way to the city, I would have also needed to stay in a hotel for at least 4 nights! The cheapest hotel I could find was miles away from the conference center, so I would have either needed to get a rental car or take cabs to the conference every day. If I wanted to stay near the conference center, the rooms would cost close to $200 per night. Um, that's a lot of money, especially when you're not "rolling in it" like all the employed librarians out there. Even employed librarians have trouble finding funds for conferences.

Obviously, my intention when going to conferences these days is to network and find a job. Usually there are job pavilions at conferences; however, when there aren't very many jobs in the area I live, how can I bet that there will be employers at these job pavilions? You can probably see my dilemma. How do people afford these things?

My solution is to attend events in the area that I live. This may not be ideal, but I already pay rent, so I can't justify spending hundreds on a hotel every night that I'm away. In a way, I'm allowing the opportunities to come to me. Although it may not be working out as well as if I risked attending a conference, I'm making the best out of a less than ideal situation. Hopefully it pans out.

If anyone has any stellar advice as to how I can attend a conference without going broke, could you please contact me? I would love the opportunity to learn more about my profession especially as I feel that I am not fully involved in my profession. Any help would be awesome!

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