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With Spring well underway, Melbourne was bright and bustling with many activities and people—everything from the State Library of Victoria to local cheese festivals to the Victoria Market. 

State Library of Victoria.

One of the many wonderful activities was this year’s recent ASIST meeting, which I had the privilege to attend in October 2019 at the Crowne Conference Centre. Although it took a full day of flights to arrive in Melbourne, the long haul was worth it! Overall, my experience attending the ASIST meeting left me energized and enthusiastic.  

Bridge not too far from the Crowne Conference Centre. 

While all of the sessions I attended were very enjoyable and thought provoking, there were a few moments that stand out in my mind as really impactful. One of those was the opening plenary. The opening plenary was a presentation by Mikaela Jade, founder of Indigital, a company that uses technologies such as augmented and mixed reality to support remote Aboriginal Peoples’ communities. She talked about everything from blockchain to connecting with community members and supporting their ability to learn tech and then share it with their own communities and in ways that work for them. The presentation provided a great opportunity for conversation and a good point for reflection on the theme of the conference for this year, “Information…Anyone, Anywhere, Any time, Any way.” I left that session considering how we can support communities’ use of information and technology in an empowering way. 

The welcome and international receptions were well attended and provided a space to reconnect with existing colleagues and meet new ones. Interacting with each other and hearing about the great projects going on in our communities was very thought provoking. The sig cabinet, sig chapter, and business meetings all brought good discussion and plans for the future growth and involvement of various groups within ASIST. I presented my work, “Vulnerability and Meeting the Needs of People Experiencing Homelessness in Public Libraries,” at the poster session. I was met with excellent questions, comments, and was able to make new connections during the poster session. 

An evening stroll after the Welcome reception. 

I also presented as part of a panel with other faculty members from Simmons University. Our panel was “Teaching Technology in Library and Information Science: Preparing Students with Diverse Needs for Challenges of an Interconnected World, which I presented along with professors Danielle Pollock, Catherine Dumas, and Naresh Agarwal. The panel was moderated by Simmons SLIS Director Sanda Erdelez. During my presentation, I talked about the struggles and rewards of teaching technology, particularly in the context of my database management course. Audience members had the chance to share their strategies and concerns, and the panel fostered discussion around teaching technology to library and information science students.


(Pictured left to right: Naresh Agarwal, Sanda Erdelez, Danielle Pollock, Rachel Williams, Catherine Dumas)

One of the aspects of the conference that was most meaningful for me was that at each reception, meeting, lunch, or other activity, there was a strong contingent of folks who participated. This enabled all of us to continue interacting with each other in a way that was really beneficial for building relationships with one another. It was really wonderful to run into someone a second or third time and to be able to reconnect about a particular paper or panel. I really felt a sense of community at ASIST this year, and I think in part it was related to the folks who attended and how active the participants were in the conference. 

As I look back on my time at ASIST 2019, I think about the pile of business cards I have from new folks I met. I consider the moments in sessions where I looked at a new colleague and we were both struck by what a presenter was saying. I also reflect on the changes to ASIST for 2020, and look forward to attending both ALISE and ASIST in what will undoubtedly be a very rewarding conference experience.