This reflection was written by Cameron Cook (@cameron_ccook), Digital Curation Resident Librarian for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cameron attended the Forum in November with support from a Students and New Professionals Fellowship.
Since returning from the DLF Forum and having some time to contemplate my experiences, I have been asking myself what it meant to be a fellow. How could I encapsulate in so many words all all the excitement over seeing fantastic projects and new ideas? How could I boil down the emotion of the days around the election and the aura it lent to every session? I have been wrestling with stitching together all the threads of thoughts and feelings of those experiences at the forum, so, for this post I thought I would pull on those threads a little.
One of the most surprising portions of my DLF experience was the feeling of having finally found a place where I could see all of the facets of my job reflected across the panels and sessions of the conference. I often forget about the importance of reflection in work. Reflection of values, of vision, or of support. It can be so energizing to see others grappling with similar projects and problems; encouraging you to keep trying. As someone whose work is often so wide ranging, I finally felt as if I could see myself in other at the conference. It felt as if community was tangible for me as a professional at the forum.
Another piece of my experience that I hold dear are the fantastic keynotes from Stacie Williams and Bergis Jules. I’m extremely thankful to have been able to listen and learn from those two. My work can, at times, be so focused on funding guidelines, data, and modes of scholarship that I often lose sight of the fact that my forms of librarianship are not removed from having social and cultural impacts. My librarianship and work are just as complicit in the perpetuation of certain ideas and values. I am grateful for the reminder to reflect on my work and the impacts it has for my communities.
Even the above thoughts are only scratching the surface, there is so much of the forum and the fellowship that I’m grateful for. I’m grateful for the energy and kindness I felt from all attendees. I’m grateful for the ideas that were shared that I have since been itching to try out myself. I’m grateful for the support from DLF to continue to grow, learn, and network as new professional. Finally though, I am most grateful for the chance to be among colleagues and an organization that are dedicated to being open, inviting, and strong for our communities. In the days around the election, when everything in our country and lives felt so divided and at such a tipping point, I was glad to be at a home away from home within a profession full of others who are already working to make our spaces and institutions more inclusive and accessible.