Have you ever wondered if ALA Midwinter is worth going to? While it might not seem as glamorous as ALA Annual, there are so many benefits involved. In Seattle as I attended as an ALSC Equity Fellow, I came to the realization that there are not nearly as many people in attendance as opposed to Annual. It made walking up and down the exhibits aisles so much more pleasant. I found that publishers had more time to talk to you. I was surprised by the lower numbers of attendees this time around since Seattle is much warmer than most locations of Midwinter. Personally, I think braving some cold weather is worth the effort. Here are my reasons:
1. Great way to start the year
Make this a New Year’s resolution or a goal if you don’t believe in making resolutions. Personally, I find making goals easier to achieve. Going to ALA conferences is a way to refresh my outlook and gain inspiration for my everyday work.
2. Seeing colleagues from near and far
This can often be the best place to reconnect with colleagues who you have not seen due to you or them relocating, grad school buddies, or even people you know in your library system. I was thrilled to run into a work colleague at the ALA Youth Media Awards who had moved out of state a couple of years ago. I work in a large library system so it always surprises me that I still manage to run into those familiar faces at conference. Having these short conversations with them always makes me feel a little more at home. I especially love to reconnect with people I knew from grad school days and hear about their accomplishments and compare our trials and tribulations.
I will admit that going to socials is not really my thing but early on I realized why. Most of the time, I have a hard time following conversations due to my hearing loss. When I found out I could utilize sign language interpreters at such events, that truly was a game changer. This has allowed me to push myself out of my comfort zone and attend various after-hours conference activities.
Networking is the key to getting more involved whether locally or nationally. One low-keyed networking activity is going to an open committee meeting. Since I arrived to conference early, I decided to check out the Joint Youth Executive meeting on Thursday afternoon. Much to my surprise, it was not boring as I expected but very engaging and inspiring hearing the work that AASL, ALSC, and YALSA is doing. I didn’t know anyone but by the end of the meeting, I had made six new connections. Little did I know at that time that I would see some of those new familiar faces throughout the conference.
4. Books, swag, oh my!
Perusing all the soon-to-be published titles, meeting authors and publishers is definitely at the top of my list for attending. Collecting fun and cool swag for giveaways and yes, I admit it, for myself! With less people in attendance, I managed to walk away with more free books especially on the last day of the exhibits. If you don’t live locally, there is always the low cost media mail option from the ALA post office. I could not help notice that even those lines were short in comparison to Annual.
5. ALA Youth Media Awards
Generally speaking, I am not fond of award shows but I have become quite fond of the ALA Media Awards. I love finding out if any of my choices are the winners and then seeing who makes up the different book award committees. This year I attended with someone I met at conference who is deaf and loves books just as much as I do. We discussed our favorites as the nominees and winners were announced.
ALA Midwinter is in Philadelphia in 2020 and Indianapolis in 2021. Maybe I’ll see you there while browsing children’s books and collecting cool swag.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: Professionalism and Professional Development.
Evelyn Keolian is today’s guest blogger. Evelyn is a Children’s Librarian for Chicago Public Library. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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.