The ALA Annual Conference is this weekend, and I thought I’d do a quick roundup of some tips for new attendees I’ve seen over the past few weeks. My first ALA was the 2009 conference in Chicago, and I did not plan as well as I should have. I did take a look at the preliminary schedule and picked out sessions I was interested in, but I didn’t know about any of the social events, didn’t really map out my schedule to see if it was feasible to get between sometimes fairly far-flung locations, and didn’t take advantage of all the services on offer. Don’t let this happen to you!
Bobbi Newman has some excellent advice for packing for a conference, along with tips for getting the most out of your experience, at her blog Librarian by Day.
Emily Clasper shared her pinterest board of her essential items to bring to the ALA conference. I especially liked her tip to bring a pair of those foldable ballet flats to keep in your bag just in case your normal shoes get unbearable with all the walking you end up doing.
There is so much going on at the ALA conference at any given time, so you’ll need to spend some time thinking about what is essential for you to attend, what would just be nice to see, and choosing back-up sessions in case your first choice doesn’t work out due to distances, overcrowded rooms (Top Tech Trends, anyone?) or other problems that might arise.
Jo Alcock provides her top 10 tips for attending ALA conferences in a guest post on Kiyomi Deards’ blog. I especially want to highlight the free food tip – this is something I never really knew about until last year, when my conference mentor brought me to a vendor reception. This year I made sure to sign up for vendor mail regarding the conference to hear about these opportunities. It’s not all about the free food, though – these are also opportunities for networking and learning about new products and services.
The Hack Library School blog had a recent “Hack ALA” series of posts with lots of great advice. Recommended sessions, how to eat right at conferences, and social events to look out for are all included in this guide.
At the Conference
The most useful tool for keeping on top of your schedule, session locations, the exhibit hall, and everything else at ALA Annual is the conference scheduler. Mobile apps and a link to the mobile version of the scheduler are available on the conference website.
The ALA membership blog recommends you take advantage of the ALA Ambassador program, where experienced conference-goers volunteer to answer your questions and provide assistance.
Make sure you check out the guide “What’s Happening” to get an overview of pretty much everything happening at Annual this year. You can access the guide from ALA Connect.
And finally, Patrick Sweeney has advice on how to be awesome at conferences. Follow this advice!
Hope to see you there!