WILU Conference review, 2011

Workshop for Instruction in Library Use (WILU) began shortly after Library Orientation Exchange (LOEX), and the two conferences have similar goals, providing a conference focused on instruction topics within libraries. WILU (pronounce it any way you like, although why loo? seemed to be the predominate pronunciation) was held this year at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. Although the conference does not have a centralized permanent organizational structure like LOEX (based at Eastern Michigan University, and which also publishes not only conference proceedings but also monthly and quarterly newsletters), the WILU conference runs very well. WILU is planned by a group of volunteers each year, and this year expanded its audience to include public and school librarians as well as academic librarians; 170 librarians attended this year.

The keynote and closing speakers provided thoughtful bookends to WILU, beginning with brains and ending with heart, in the forms of “Brain Trainer” Brian Thwaits, and David Bouchard, a First Nations author of numerous children and adult books. The first set the tone of the conference by focusing on how people learn; this was echoed in several sessions I attended, including the hybrid poster/spotlight session.

Attendance gave me a chance to meet librarians at schools across Canada and the U.S., a great strength of this diverse conference. We face many of the same instruction challenges and had good conversations about how we are meeting them. I returned with great ideas and new approaches.

Dine-Arounds were advertised ahead of the conference for the second night, giving another opportunity to network.

As a presenter at this year’s conference, I was contacted by organizers at appropriate points in the timeline to keep me in the loop. I also appreciated the discounts on airfare offered by Canadian airline WestJet.

The conference was held on campus which helped keep the cost down, especially if you stay in the dorms. Breakfast and lunch was provided for the two full days of the conference, and a reception on the opening evening was more than enough for dinner; throughout the conference frequent snack breaks kept us fueled for further conversations.

Next year’s WILU will be held at Grant MacEwan University, Edmonton, Alberta from May 23-25, 2012.

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