A new way of professional learning may be replacing the “filling a ballroom and quietly taking notes as a speaker speaks” model and seems to have its genesis in a more localized fashion. At a state meeting last spring, a library administrator noted, “My new professional hires are much more interested in doing regional and state stuff—super into the state stuff.”
Is this the rise of locavore learning? Budgets may be more robust for travel closer to home. There’s something wonderful about meeting up with colleagues once a year (or more) and commiserating. As a friend said at CALCON, “I’m with my people.” Local and state conferences make collaboration more possible. It’s easier to learn from one another when you can actually visit one another’s libraries and see how programs and services are working out. People extend themselves more when they are with colleagues who are also “neighbors,” even if they are three hours away. Chances are you will also find colleagues working with similar demographics or facing similar political/funding realities—all of which make “going local” more compelling.