By Lindsey Ann Carpino, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Graduate School of Library and Information Science
As I began to explore the idea of attending my first AALL Annual Meeting & Conference in San Antonio, many of my mentors informed me of the Conference of Newer Law Librarians (CONELL). My mentors shared their positive experiences and how they still remain in contact with the friends they met during CONELL.
I became increasingly excited about this unique opportunity to connect with other law librarians who shared the same stage in their career. CONELL typically takes place the Saturday before the conference begins and offers newer librarians the chance to meet the AALL Executive Board, and network and bond during a luncheon and afternoon tour of the hosting city.
During the conference, the CONELL attendees wore ribbons that signified their newer member status. While I was hesitant to declare my novice status, I was quickly relieved when shortly after donning the ribbon with my friends, a longtime member who was excited to welcome us stopped to chat with us. I instantly became proud to announce my newly acquired status as a newer member of AALL.
One of my most memorable experiences from CONELL occurred during the introductory welcome. In the past year prior to attending CONELL, I was able to connect with a newer law librarian, Anupama “Anu” Pal, who shared a similar path and had been mentoring me and providing guidance throughout my law librarianship journey. While we had spoken several times on the phone and shared countless emails, we had never met each other in person. This all changed at CONELL. After taking a moment to scan my nametag and briefly introduce herself during the CONELL introduction, Anu and I immediately exchanged a hug that solidified the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
Throughout the remainder of the weekend, I was able to connect with newer law librarians from all over the country who held varying positions, yet shared the same passions and challenges as myself. We bonded over attending early morning breakfast meetings, programming, roundtable discussions, strolls around the exhibit hall, and late night gatherings featuring karaoke sessions and lots of laughter.
Just as my mentors advised me, I would also advise any newer AALL member to attend CONELL. It is a truly wonderful experience and one that you will cherish for many years to come!
Merely one year ago, I shared my initial library school experience through my article on the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science “GSLIS” LEEP Bootcamp. My journey has come full circle, as I am excited to announce that I recently finished my last course in the GSLIS program.
As always, I am forever grateful for the continued support and mentorship that this profession and organization offers. I look forward to beginning the next chapter in my law librarianship career!