NLS9 Event Wrap Up

NLS9 was held in Adelaide on the 5th-7th of July, with tours held on the 5th and the conference proper on 6th and 7th July.

I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to say about this conference, and at the prompting of Sally Turbitt I’ve decided to share my thoughts.

The upshot is, I didn’t enjoy this conference.  There were some factors that were well within the organisers’ control however there was a lot that wasn’t and was simply about me.  From “what could be improved” I found that the breakout space wasn’t really kept for downtime as advertised (it was multipurpose, used for meal breaks, meetings and chill out time) and I also thought that the keynotes had zero promotion about them, and they didn’t even have titles/topics in the programs, so I couldn’t make an educated decision about whether I should go to the keynote or skip it and get some rest.  On a personal note, I was worn out going into the conference, and ended up with a migraine on Sunday morning as a result.  I’m starting to think that conferences just aren’t my jam – there is so much information to absorb in a short space of time, and so many people.  As an introvert and a neurodiverse person (ADHD including sensory processing issues) conferences are really, really hard.

I was disappointed by the keynotes, as some seemed to be a bit too niche interest for me and some rehashed ideas I’d heard before (however, I must also note that not everyone – ie most people at NLS9 – did not have the privilege of attending ALIA Information Online 2019 and hearing the amazing keynotes there).  As I said earlier, I couldn’t make an informed decision about whether or not to attend because there was no information given about them leading up to the event.  I was also disappointed in the one teacher-librarian lightning talk – the speaker has no experience as a teacher librarian and just presented the sort of stuff we write in assignments and blog posts, not anything inspiring.

On the plus side, I really enjoyed Alissa McCulloch‘s talk “We Need To Talk About Cataloguing“.  Absolute highlight of the conference proper.

What I enjoyed about the NLS9 experience was:

  • Exploring Adelaide a little myself and discovering the Central Markets and Chinatown, especially discovering a pirate-costume-wearing didgeridoo player playing along to Shaggy’s Boombastic
  • Hiring an electric scooter and riding to the State Library for the conference dinner.


  • Catching up with friends including Alissa, Sally, and Mel.


  • Being in a new city I’d never been to before.
  • Contributing to the NLS9 zine.
    Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 3.05.27 pm
    None of that was really about the conference.

    While there were things the organisers could have done to improve the conference experience, please don’t take this post as saying the conference was awful.  It wasn’t. It was pretty groundbreaking for Australia with a strong sustainability focus and the organisers worked really hard.  It’s just I think… maybe conferences aren’t for me.

Author: lizparnell

Teacher-Librarian Student. #critlib #DigitalLiteracy Member of the ADHD tribe. #ADHDandSuccessful Mother of five children, three of them autistic. Wife of One.

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