You know you should go to the ALA Annual Conference. It’s on your to-do list, right? Your professors and colleagues tell you it’s a great experience and you drool over the list of literary and library celebrities that will be appearing. But then you think, it will be so expensive! There’s the airfare, the hotel, not to mention juggling school, work, and all the other things in our busy lives.
Well, I’m here to tell you to do it! The benefits of the conference are well worth the time and energy. There’s nothing like seeing how the ideas and theories in our textbooks are applied by real people in the real library world.
The ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim was my first. I was excited, yet intimidated. So many people, sessions, booths, venues! I felt completely overwhelmed. Luckily, I happened upon a mentor who took me under her wing and guided me through the conference. Although my mentor experience was informal, ALA and the New Members Round Table (NMRT) also provide a formal mentor program.
If you have the opportunity to chat with your mentor before you get to the conference, do it! If I hadn’t talked with my mentor before the conference I wouldn’t have known to bring my resume to be reviewed at the ALA Job Placement Center, nor would I have attended the Newbery Caldecott Banquet or the Coretta Scott King Awards Breakfast, both unforgettable experiences. Ask your mentor any questions you can think of about preparing for the conference, even if they seem trivial. For instance, I learned from my mentor that the USPS generally has a booth in the exhibit hall and that it’s much easier to just ship all those ARCs and nifty book bags back home instead of stuffing them into a suitcase.
Prior to attending the conference, I was pretty intimidated by ALA and ALSC. They seemed like huge, impersonal national organizations. Going to the conference and getting to meet members in person has really humanized the organizations for me. I learned that members truly want library science students to get involved. They want to help us figure things out by answering our questions.
Although I feel that I am just starting out, I now see that my fresh ideas and energy are welcomed and valued by ALA and ALSC. So I hope to see you at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, you know I’ll be there with bells on.
Our guest blogger today is Amy Seto Musser. Amy lives in Seattle, WA and is currently earning her MLS online with Texas Woman’s University. She looks forward to becoming a children’s librarian in a public library and drawing on her theatre experience to develop interactive programming for kids. You can follow Amy online on her blog: http://picturebookaday.blogspot.com/
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.