ALA Annual is many things to me. The best time of year? yes! Librarian Christmas (or huge celebration?) Yes! Professional development? yes! Networking? Yes! Lots of decked out librarians in their finest cat or mermaid creations? Yes and yes and yes and yes! lol!
But one thing that ALA Annual means to me is mentorship. When I was a wee librarian at my first ALA- now 5 years ago- I immediately signed up for a conference mentor through NMRT and I have been lucky enough to keep meeting with her years later!
ALA is overwhelming… conferences are gigantic and jam-packed and even when you are not #alaleftbehind you can develop serious #FOMO when you are there! It is impossible to do everything, and you may or may not luck into doing just some of the things you wanted to do!
So search out what interests you in the organization and sign up to get a mentor! Better yet– be a mentor! After my first mentor experience, my mentor asked me to reach back and help someone else out by being a mentor when I felt ready. I never thought that day would come… and even though I still feel overly submerged at the exhibit hall and sometimes go to the wrong meeting room, or wrong hotel… I still have been able and competent to give back as a mentor!
(PS- ALSC has a great mentoring program)