If you are new to AALL and to FCIL-SIS, I would recommend making the effort to attend CONELL – Wow, that’s a lot of abbreviations! Exorbitant use of abbreviations aside, the Conference of Newer Law Librarians during the 2016 conference was a great way to be introduced to the organization and learn how to be more involved.
CONELL began with an introduction to several members of the board. It was intended to be a quick introduction to illustrate the wide variety of backgrounds and occupations for AALL members that would be followed with some informal networking. It quickly became obvious that a short introduction was not going to happen, and we instead received some lifelong stories and encouragement to participate in AALL. Although this rearranged the schedule a bit, it was nice to hear how committed these individuals were to the success of the organization and especially its members.
Following the introduction to AALL came the networking fun: a round of speed networking and a visit to the marketplace. The speed networking (set up like a speed dating event) was a surprisingly effective icebreaker. There were two rows of chairs facing each other, and after three minutes, people sitting on one side moved to the next chair. The most interesting aspect of this was the wide variety of people I met in thirty minutes, spanning the range of AALL membership. The marketplace is essentially an exhibition of volunteer opportunities for AALL: SIS, regional/local chapters, and Law Library Journal/Spectrum. Here I first met the incomparable Daniel Wade handing out information on FCIL-SIS and the Schaffer Grant. One of the most interesting aspects of the marketplace was the interaction between all the various tables, showing that you don’t have to limit yourself to one area of AALL.
By far the best perk is the included trip around the city. For this year’s CONELL, we went on a boat tour of Chicago run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. An hour and a half trip around the Chicago River provided stunning views and an interesting accounting of architecture and water use along the river.
Overall, CONELL was a great opportunity to meet new colleagues who are in a similar place in their careers. Another plus was the ability to interact with longer-term AALL members and see in one place all of the opportunities AALL can provide. If that doesn’t sell you, there’s also free lunch!