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The first week of June ushered in not only the start of the SJSU summer semester, but most excitingly, the beginning of the California Library Association (CLA) 2022 Conference! 

As a first-time attendee of the CLA Conference, I was thrilled that the conference was to be held in my hometown of Sacramento, making navigation to, from, and around the conference much less intimidating. I also quickly learned that the conference theme, “Together Towards Tomorrow” perfectly captured the essence of the extensive presentations on offer and the conference experience I would have over the next few days. 

The Exhibit Hall at CLA with booths and exhibitors lining either side
First stop: The CLA Exhibit Hall to network with exhibitors and grab some swag!

I started my first day by visiting the Exhibit Hall, whose variety of booths had plenty of swag to pick up along the way. Let’s just say I won’t need to purchase pens for years to come… I was particularly excited to stop by the SJSU School of Information Booth where I had the incredible opportunity to meet our indefatigable iSchool Director, Dr. Anthony Chow, and our steadfast Student Outreach Specialist, Sheila Gurtu. I also made off with an assortment of iSchool goodies including a comfortable t-shirt, lanyard, pens, and luggage tag. 

I then made my way to my first presentation, “The User-Centered Design (UCD) and User-Experience (UX) of an Academic Department’s Website”, a three-hour “Super Session” about the process of applying UCD and UX to the iSchool’s website presented by Dr. Chow, Dr. Virginia Tucker (remotely), and two of the four students from the inaugural INFO 298 Special Studies course on Usability/UX. After providing an overview of UCD and UX principles, theories, and instruments, participants had the chance to try out user testing for themselves on a library or other website of their choosing. This session was incredibly informative, especially as I am currently enrolled in the summer section of the INFO 298 Usability/UX course and will be part of the next iteration of students carrying on this important initiative. I was also able to meet so many SJSU students, many of whom I only knew from tiny Zoom gallery views, who had shown up to support Dr. Chow and the iSchool in great numbers!

Group of iSchool students surrounding Dr. Chow outside a CLA Conference presentation
Enthusiastic support from iSchool students for the UCD and UX Super Session


Friday proved equally action-packed, as I balanced my time between attending sessions, wandering the Exhibit Hall, and networking with vendors and fellow iSchool students and alumni. But the real highlight for me was being able to present a poster at Friday night’s iSchool Reception at the Sheraton Grand. ALASC Executive Board Members Sadie Davenport, Emily Espanol, Avril Frasché, Laura Zupan, and I spent quite a bit of time in the lead up to the CLA Conference refining our poster on “Visionary Student Leadership: How the SJSU ALA Student Chapter Creates Opportunities for Future Professionals.” This was an incredibly rewarding experience as we learned how to dynamically represent ALASC’s mission, goals, and member benefits through visuals by highlighting how we connect and engage with MLIS students through a variety of exemplary events and technologies. We also discussed our poster with other iSchool students, professors, alumni, and conference attendees, answering questions about our student chapter, poster creation process, and progress in the MLIS program

If you are ever attending library conferences as a MLIS student, which I couldn’t recommend more, I would also highly recommend presenting a poster – it is great professional and ePortfolio experience! And we even received certificates of appreciation signed by Dr. Chow! 

ALASC Executive Board Members Laura Zupan, Emily Espanol, Avril Frasche, and Sabrina Gunn standing beside their poster presentation
From left to right: ALASC Executive Board members Laura Zupan, Emily Espanol, Avril Frasché and Sabrina Gunn (absent: Sadie Davenport) in front of our poster


Saturday served as a chance to fit in as many additional sessions as I could before the conference came to an end. Here is just a sampling of the many impressive sessions I was able to attend throughout the conference: 

  • The User Centered Design (UCD) and User Experience (UX) of an Academic Department’s Website
  • Free Stuff for Free: Be a Guilt-Free Freeloader
  • From Disconnected to HS Diploma Bound: How California Public Libraries are Re-Engaging Adults Back into the Educational System
  • Critical Cataloging: Rethinking Cataloging Practices for a Better Tomorrow
  • Charge it Up
  • Ebooks for All

With my bags packed to the brim with swag, my head filled with inspiring ideas, and my throat raspy from so many laughs and engaging conversations, it was time to say goodbye to the CLA 2022 Conference. As I was walking out of the CLA 2022 Conference one final time, I stopped in to one of my favorite local independent bookstores, Capital Books, which just happens to be located a few blocks from the conference center. After perusing the latest new releases, I asked the staff if they had seen a large number of conference attendees at the store that weekend. Their response was a resounding “YES!” and that they loved that librarians had been coming in to recommend books to them. Book recommendations for independent booksellers while attending a library conference? Yep, definitely sounds like us librarians, doesn’t it?! 

As a current MLIS student, this was a truly remarkable opportunity to learn, share, connect, and grow. It can feel quite isolating completing graduate school entirely online, so I am incredibly grateful for the ability to participate in professional development opportunities such as the CLA 2022 Conference to expand my knowledge, seek advice from working information professionals, meet current iSchool faculty and students, and ultimately forge friendships among a community of librarians. 

I would also like to take the time to specifically thank my poster co-presenters and all the wonderful iSchool students I met at CLA, you all made this conference one to remember! Additionally, I would like to thank the entire ALASC Executive Board for your inspiring leadership, collaboration, and commitment to excellence, Dr. Chow and Sheila Gurtu for supporting and encouraging students to succeed, and the SJSU Associated Students for granting the ALASC funding for us to attend the CLA 2022 Conference.

Thanks to Sabrina Gunn, Webmaster, for sharing her experience.