I've attended the Association for Rural and Small Libraries conference a handful of times now, and each year my assessment is the same: my favorite conference of the year!
This is not to say that I don't find other conferences packed with practical and useful information, but I will admit freely that this conference is special.
First, it's small-ish (yet continues to grow each year) and takes advantage of its size (around 500) by ensuring there's something for everyone. What other conference repeats sessions so folks have a chance to attend? When have you paid a nominal fee to visit a local library and get ferried off to a wine tasting and art show benefitting the Friends of the Library? This conference feels like visiting a small town, where everyone is friendly and genuinely wants to know more about you. Add to that scenario informative sessions where real-life stories are shared with ample time for questions and sharing. What a delight! I've made new friends standing in line for food; even wandering the halls between sessions offers moments for chance encounters. Plus, each host town has something special to offer and the organizers make sure you have an opportunity to experience it. Just writing this post, I'm smiling, getting excited for the next ARSL conference in Frisco, Texas this September.
And this is why I'm writing: if you've never attended the ARSL conference, here's your chance to win a scholarship. Write a brief essay about why you want to go to the next ARSL, and you might win funding to get you there. And when you see my smiling face in the crowd, be sure to say, "Hi Sarah!" For more information on the conference and scholarship opportunties, visit the ARSL web site. Hope to see you there!