I was delighted and honored to have been selected as one of the recipients of the Penguin Young Reader’s Awards. Most of all, I was thrilled to be headed to my first ALA Annual Conference.
When the ALA scheduler app appeared and the ads from publishers–Free stuff! Book signings! Meet the author!–began to fill my e-mail inbox, I quickly became overwhelmed. So much to learn, so many authors to see, so many vendors to visit–how could I possibly do everything? And, I had to do everything, right?
From what I’d heard from former conference attendees, it is simply not possible to do everything. So I came up with a strategy to do as much as I could and make the most of what I did: THINK. PLAN. DO. SHARE.
Here’s my advice:
Before getting serious with the scheduler and sorting through all those online pitches, THINK about these questions:
- What do you want to learn? What do you need to learn to energize yourself and enhance your position at your library?
- What can you learn to make the library experience for kids and families even more educational, unique, and fun?
- What knowledge and resources can you bring back to share with your colleagues that would be new, exciting, and different?
Now get ready to PLAN. Use the scheduler to prioritize which sessions you’d like to attend based on the answers to your questions.
Next, it’s time to DO. Have your plan in hand and stick to it–don’t second-guess yourself! Also, don’t feel bad about walking out of a session that doesn’t seem right for you. Try your second choice or visit the exhibit hall, Book Buzz Theater, and the Pop Top Stage.
While “doing,” remember to pace yourself and give yourself time to rest and reflect throughout the day. You may also want to get in touch with your inner grandmother and listen to her. Wear comfy shoes–you’ll be glad you did!–and don’t worry if they don’t match the rest of your clothes. (I saw a lot of funky skirt-sneaker combos while in Florida!)
- Have a light-weight sweater on-hand for those chilly meeting rooms.
- Carry water and snacks at all times. You never know when you’ll suddenly lose focus because of low blood sugar.
- Take a notebook and write in it! Lots. Bring extra pens. And bring folders for organizing all those loose pieces of paper you’ll pick up during the conference. Paperclips are helpful, too.
And, if you can, pack an extra piece of luggage or a duffle bag for bringing home all those books and other items you’ll collect. (A poster tube is also handy for carrying artwork home safely.) You’ll get your stuff home much quicker and avoid the super-long lines at the conference post office.
When you get home, it will be time to SHARE. Organize your notes as soon as you can. Write about your experience and post your write-up somewhere for all to see. Be specific with the resources you have to share–handouts, websites, blogs, etc. Reach out to colleagues whom you know have specific interests. Hopefully, your new-found energy and enthusiasm will excite those around you, too.
I am incredibly grateful to ALSC and Penguin Books for the opportunity to attend this year’s ALA Annual Conference. I am very much looking forward to incorporating more STEM into my programs, using social media to promote my programs, and using some technology to engage teens and tweens. I’m also excited about creating partnerships with community organizations to provide new educational opportunities for my library’s kids and families. And, I’m feeling more positive about working with our schools to support the Common Core curriculum.
Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!
Our guest blogger today is Elizabeth Esposito. Lisa is a children’s librarian at the South Huntington Public Library in Huntington Station, New York and is also a recipient of the 2016 Penguin Young Readers Group Award.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.