My First ALA! Advice Tips and Tricks

The most repeated advice – comfortable shoes

Tomorrow I’m off for my first ALA conference, it was a bit of a last minute deal but I’m pleased to be attending!  I will be blogging the sessions I attend both here and on LITA’s blog.

When I found out I was going I sent out a call for tips on Twitter and got a some great responses on FriendFeed and Twitter. I’ve blogged conference tips before and thought I’d recap and add some new ones as a reminder to myself.

  • Give people your name, wear your name badge up near your face rather than on a lanyard so it’s easy for people to glance at it while talking to.  Introduce yourself, even if you’ve already met the person.  Some of us have hard time with names and there are a LOT of people to remember.
  • Don’t hang out with the people you came with – Go to different sessions, maximize your time at the conference you can share with each other what you learned.
  • Meet new people – you’re probably not going to meet new people if you’re hanging out wtih the people you came with.  Get out of your comfort zone, ask people what they want to get from the conference, how far they traveled etc, you never know what you’ll learn or who you’ll meet.
  • Review the program before you go so you know what session you will be attending and when you’ll have free time to have coffee with someone you meet.
  • Know what amenities your hotel offers – internet access, gym, fridge, breakfast etc
  • Make time for down time, conferences can be overwhelming there is so much to do, so many people to meet.  Don’t wear yourself out early.
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Layer your clothes, bring a jacket, temperature can vary widely in rooms and you want to be comfortable
  • Drink lots of water

From FriendFeed & Twitter – I tried to give credit where credit is due without violating anyones privacy settings, but if I messed something up, feel free to let me know.

  • Write down the sessions you want to go to, rip the maps out of the program and leave the program at home. If you should need the full program, there will be 2,000 librarians in your general vicinity you can borrow from. – Steve Lawon
  • In the exhibits, ask youself before taking swag “would I want this if it weren’t free?” And it is unseemly to push people out of the way to get an advance reading copy. – Steve Lawson
  • Anything you acquire, you will have to bring home. I like to stick a small flattened cardboard box and a roll of packing tape in my suitcase to mail home free books. – Jason P.
  • In Chicago, just plan on spending the day either at McCormack place or at the other hotels. Getting back and forth between McCormack and the rest of the conference takes forever and a day, and you end up missing half the sessions you wanted to get to.  Laura
  • Make sure to attend the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase on Monday morning at 10:30 in the convention center. 🙂 The exhibit hall normally has a shipping area, collect free books and take them there to ship them home. Most of the really good stuff happens during the social hours, not the sessions, plan accordingly. My fav “social” events include the OCLC Blog Salon and the LITA Happy hour, but if you want you can go the entire weekend without paying for food or drink, if you smooze with enough vendors. More as I think of it. 🙂 – Jason Griffey
  • Good shoes, go to hear people of interest despite topic, Lots of time at exhibits, easy on swag you pick up there itsanno
  • Don’t schedule too much per day. Choose one or two things you really want to attend, then chose other stuff by proximity stevelawson
  • ALA is very spread out. You need to factor in where a session/meeting is when planning a schedule TombrarianIcon_lock
  • wear comfortable shoes!! know what sessions you want before you get there (at least some ideas). Be Flexible! library_chic
  • comfortable shoes, be prepared to ship things home, and it’s okay to ask politely if they have galleys for certain titles BethSaxton

Recommended further reading:

6 thoughts on “My First ALA! Advice Tips and Tricks

  1. Welcome to your first ALA! If you want to meet some folks from the open source community and have a light nibble, Equinox Software is hosting a social event.

    Very true about the shoes, but I disagree about staying at one end of Chicago or the other all day. Figure out where you want to be, and then make it happen — just build in lots of time. Consider cab shares — 3 in a cab can be fast and inexpensive.


  2. I’m trying to book my flight early for the 2011 annual. I see it goes from 23-28, but cant seem to figure out if its all that important to get there on the 23rd. Does much happen the first day? The last? To save on hotel costs I’m just trying to figure out the least amount of nights I can be there and see the most with my budget. I am thinking of arriving the evening of the 23rd. Any thoughts on the importance/non importance of day one?


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