Blogger Angela Reynolds

Auntie A’s Conference Tips

I won’t be going to Anaheim… but I am thinking of you conference goers! For those of you who are veteran attendees, this will seem old hat. But for the first or second timers, here’s a few tips that always help me have a better conference, in no particular order of preference:

*Take Snacks. And take them with you to the conference hall. Pack small zip lock baggies of pretzels, M&Ms, whatever gets you through the day. You’ll save money and time –the food lines are always long! *More food tips: Vendors have food. Candy, especially. Stop and see their goods, chat with them, and then eat their chocolate. Watch for free food events in the exhibit hall.
*Scope out the local restaurants. Every time you walk somewhere, keep an eye out for good food spots. There will be a lot of librarians competing for the eateries, so if you see a cool, off-the- beaten-track spot, jot it down.
*Spy Pad! Take a little notebook with you and keep it handy for jotting down.. restaurants, ideas, phone numbers, etc. Keep it handy, as well as a good pen. Put the address and phone number of your hotel in the spy pad, just in case you need it — taxi drivers do NOT always know where they should go.
*Swag…. Either take an extra bag to cart home all the freebies or be judicious in your picking up. Those free books and stickers get heavy. You can ship stuff home, too. Usually there is a handy postal service right at the conference center.
*Take a poster tube for all the cool posters you are going to bring home.
*Take advantage of the free shuttles! Get the schedule down on the first day, and you’ll be set.
*Read your conference book and make a plan. Perhaps you’ll veer from the plan, but having one is half the battle. Jot down your daily schedule, including where the room is, in your Spy Pad. Then you can leave that heavy book in your room!
*Go to the workshops that sound fun. I always go to some that I think will be GOOD for me to attend, even though another sounds more fun. Do the fun thing at least once, whether it applies to your job or not. It will apply somehow.
*Sit in on Notable discussions. Check the schedule– you can see how committees work and get to hear lots of opinions. Good networking place, too!
*Wear your badge at all meetings and events, but take it off when you go out into the street.
*Network, network, network. Introduce yourself, ask friends and colleagues to introduce you. Go to events that you get invited to, even if it is just for a quick hello.
*Do something fun. Give yourself a treat and do something non-work related.
*Drink lots of water. Take your own water bottle. Remember, tap water is regulated, and is probably just as good as that $2 plastic bottle of H20 you don’t need to buy!
*Go to the ALSC meetings. Great place to network and to hear division news.
*Check out the author signings at vendor tables (they’ll be listed in your conference book). Books are often cheaper at conference, and you can get them signed… never too early to shop for those holiday gifts!
*Use the Internet Café to check your e-mails. Don’t take a laptop just for e-mail! You can do it on site, for free.
*Take comfy walking shoes. You are going to be walking a lot.
*Dress in layers. It may be hot outside, but those conference rooms can be downright frigid.
*Take at least one dressy outfit. You might get invited to something swank and you should be prepared. Dressy, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.
*Have fun! Conference can be exhausting, but mostly it is very exciting and inspiring. Enjoy every minute!


  1. thom barthelmess

    Angela, those are some great ideas!
    I’ll add to them with a plug for the ALSC orientation program/reception “ALSC 101: Making Connections.” This summer it happens on Friday afternoon, 4:00-6:00pm, in the Anaheim Convention Center, room 201 A/B. This event, put on by the ALSC Membership Committee, is a great way to meet other first-time conference attendees who share your commitment to library service for kids, collect conference tips, and just find some friendly faces (that you’ll keep running into as the conference progresses). Plus, there’s always some ALSC-specific swag you can’t get anywhere else…
    And, thanks to progressive planning, this summer’s program is adjacent to YALSA’s corresponding program, so those of you with interest in/responsibilities for the older young people we serve can kill two birds with one trip.
    Check it out!

  2. thom barthelmess

    And if I paid any attention at all, I’d see that Jenny already plugged the Making Connections program.
    Let’s just chock that up to enthusiasm, shall we…

  3. Jenny Najduch

    Those are GREAT tips, thanks so much for sharing, Angela!

    And thank you also, Thom for plugging ALSC 101 — there’s no such thing as too much publicity!

  4. Rebecca Hickman

    Great tips. I’m leaving my laptop at home!

  5. Vicki Ford

    A couple of other tips:
    Don’t pick up every catalog. Just make sure you are on their mailing list.

    Take your business cards for all those “drawings”–or, better yet, make up address labels with all your library info. Much easier than filling out all those entry forms.

    DO not put your Plastic card with all your info near a magnet (like your purse closing or a button). It will delete all your info.

    Do NOT pick up bags with rope handles. They will cut through your hands. Look for those canvas bags.

    If you plan on mailing things back, remember to use either MEDIA MAIL (going to your home address) or LIBRARY MAIL (which has to be sent to a LIBRARY). And, make up those labels before you leave home.

    If you are just traveling with one piece of luggage, and your airlines still allows two pieces of checked luggage, put a nylon bag in that you can use for books, etc.

    If you have a meeting away from the Convention Center, make sure you leave in time to catch a 2nd shuttle bus…the line is always long, and you never make it on the first bus. And, after waiting in line for 15 minutes and having a 15 minute ride, the meeting room is full when you get there. So, plan ahead.

  6. Steve Cramer

    Good tips! Here are a few more suggestions:
    –While the presidents’ programs get a lot of publicity, don’t overlook the discussion forums. Those often end up being my favorite ALA events. The conference program should have a separate listing of discussions.
    –If a lecture or presentation (or whatever) isn’t meeting your needs, leave. Don’t wait until it’s over. Move on to a plan B event for that time slot if you have one, or talk to exhibitors. This is normal conference behavior. (It’s nice to sit near the back and/or on an aisle if you think there’s a good change you might leave early.)
    –Lots of free lunches and parties are sponsored by vendors your library probably works with. But you might not hear about them. Ask your acquisitions, ejournal, serials, and/or e-resources librarians or collection development head to let you know when they get invitations.

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