I survived my first ALA Conference
Things I learned at my first American Library Association Conference:
- Wear comfy shoes. I chose Tevas, which actually didn't look as bad as I thought they would with skirts.
- Don't feel bad about dressing down: I saw EVERY kind of librarian dress--hipsters with ironic cat sweaters; Abercrombie model malebrarians with Jonas Bros. skinny jeans; sweater and sensible pants older set librarians with glasses and chains; every kind. And lots of people were wearing jeans. I dressed up for the first two days (especially at a session where I had to give a speech and accept an award), but wore jeans the last day.
- Talk to people, everybody and anybody, you'll be really surprised at the connections you make!
- Bring a water bottle you can refill
- Bring snacks--the Conference Center food was overpriced and terrible so I was starving marvin by the end of each day
- Hit as many vendors as you can, take their free swag, they want you too!
- Bring some cash if you want to buy stuff from the Conference's ALA store or to buy books for yourself/your library to have authors sign!
- Bring a camera or phone with camera capability; be a paparazzi! You won't be disappointed and you might be surprised by the photo ops that arise!
- When we registered we were given ALA handbags, and many of the vendors give you those too, but with all the other swag and free stuff I accumulated I was really glad I brought a back pack--my arms got really tired of carrying all the swag bags, so I tossed everything in my backpack and kept trooping on.
- STRETCH! Take time to relax and stretch--my muscles were definitely tight by the end of the day. I found a corner of the Conference Ctr. that wasn't being used and did some downward facing dogs and other yoga stretches--no lie.
- Try and go to the free receptions that your vendors offer. I didn't take advantage of this because I was staying with a friend who took me out for dinners, but if I were to go to another conference I would definitely hit these up. Can we say FREE!?
- Don't be afraid to get up during a session and sneak out so you can try another one if you're not enjoying something
- Don't feel bad about leaving before the end of the day. No sense falling asleep in a session. Take a break. Go get a beer, catch up with others about their Conference experience thus far, and get rested up and ready for the next day!
- Bring business cards: I wound up giving more of these to vendors than other librarians, but I was glad I'd brought some.
- After the Conference follow up with people you met/connected with; you never know who may wind up being a future co-worker or boss
- Eat local food. I love Chicago dogs and Chicago style pizza, so when Scott asked me where he should take me for dinner, those were the two things I requested; and what better way to eat good local food, than have a local take you out to the good restaurants!
- Enjoy every minute. Even though it's crazy busy, and you get tired of long bathroom lines, this is definitely a helluva an experience!