ALA Midwinter 2019

#alamw19 and the Anxiety of the Exhibit Hall

It’s that time of year… time for the giant sprawling exhibit hall of brand new books (both free and at discount), vendors, networking, free snacks, and ANXIETY.

Sometimes the exhibit hall offers FOMO with getting the coolest tote bags, hottest books, and precious minutes to gush with your favorite author… it’s real, and I think we all experience it– even if we are actually there.

And while it is endless amounts of fun and discovery… it is also so hard for some people (ME!) who can be socially awkward. I am a super extroverted person… it’s one of the ways I can shine at being a librarian… but I also feel horribly uncomfortable and awkward in situations with lots of people, and also with all the people looking to sell something to you.

So- I offer some tips to survive. Even if you are #alaleftbehind, one day you may experience the daunting gauntlet of the exhibit hall– so safe for future use!

  1. If possible, use the buddy system. I love to conference with friends from grad school or work colleagues– but even if you don’t have a dedicated conference person– turn to the other bewildered person next to you and say hello. There is strength in numbers.
  2. Try a simple hi! I often feel flustered at coming up with witty and easy conversation with vendors… but they are human beings who also just respond to “hello!” and I can usually handle saying that.
  3. When in doubt– discuss obvious things about the location, like the weather. Seattle? “We are lucky it’s not raining. It feels (adjective) out in relation to (where you are from or place where the last conference was).” Or how crazy busy it is in the exhibit hall.
  4. Take breaks. There is so much to do, see, and grab in the exhibit hall. Don’t forget that your body has needs beyond ARCs. Drink water, eat something, rest… etc.
  5. Realize that you will miss some things. But it’s okay. You will probably survive. And luckily you can wait a few months and grab a copy of that book at your local library!

In conclusion, try to have fun! And, if you see me wandering around the exhibit hall… please come talk to me so I can use one of my helpful tips and survive the moment.

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