ALA Annual Conference 2023

Some Final Thoughts from #alaac23

It’s hard to believe that we’ve wrapped up another annual conference. While some are already looking forward to LibLearnX in January 2024 or even next year’s annual conference in San Diego, I’m still trying to digest everything from the last five days. With so many opportunities for learning and connection, how can I even start to summarize them? There are tons of wonderful posts here on the blog recapping some of the great sessions this year. So, I’ll leave you with some final lessons from this year’s conference.

Download all the conference slides and handouts you can.

Download EVERYTHING. For sessions that you attended, it’s a great way to supplement notes that you took or remember key resources from the presentation. In addition, download content that interests you from sessions you didn’t go to. You might get ideas from these resources. Even better, you’ll likely have contact information for the presenters, and you can connect outside of conference to learn more. Library people love to share.

Take time to process.

If you’re like me, you’ve gotten a ton of information and ideas in the last few days. Give yourself permission to take a step back and breathe. Then, you can start processing the information. Look back through your notes and make action plans for ideas you want to implement. List questions that you want to follow up on. Make note of topics you want to explore more. Just because conference is over, it doesn’t mean that you have to immediately move on. It’s okay to take some time to work through everything you’ve learned.

Note lessons you’ve learned.

Especially if this has been your first conference, make some notes about what worked (or didn’t) for you. Do certain session times work better for you? Did you leave something at home that you really wanted during conference? Did you try and do too much each day and exhaust yourself? It may seem silly to make note of those things now, but they’ll be a great resource when you plan for your next conference. I’m still learning about what works and doesn’t for me!

Share your joy and your thanks.

Did a session make an impact on you? Did you really enjoy connecting with someone? Take a moment to reach out to that person and let them know. Often as presenters and professionals, we wonder whether our work has an impact. Hearing from other people that it did is incredibly validating. Plus, this could be the start of a great professional (or personal) relationship. Have questions? Reach out and ask. Whether it’s asking a presenter to share more about something they did or asking a friend to share their notes, conference is all about getting information to more people.

Look at conference as a beginning, not an ending.

Even though we’re leaving conference and heading back to our “real” lives, this doesn’t have to be an ending. Maybe you’re going to try a new idea at your library. Perhaps you’ve thought of something you can share with the library community. Or it could be you’re starting a mentorship relationship. Whatever it is, look forward to what’s to come. Everything you try won’t work, and that’s okay. At libraries, we’re all about learning and growing together. Look at this as the first step in your next adventure.

What lessons would you share from your conference experience?

Today’s guest contributor is Jaime Eastman (she/her/hers). Jaime is a senior Public Services Librarian and Family Place Coordinator at the Harrington Library, one of the Plano (Texas) Public Library locations. She’s currently serving as a member of the ALSC Board of Directors. This will be her second Annual Conference. She is looking forward to many things, including finalizing the strategic plan with the rest of the Board, seeing great educational sessions sponsored by ALSC, and connecting with members both in person and through the blog. Jaime is currently working on at least two ambitious cross stitch projects, dreaming of future travel plans, and reading far too many books at once. As a child, she wanted to grow up to be an author. Writing for the blog and publishing with Children and Libraries feel like a good start, and she regrets nothing about her adult decision to be a librarian doing storytimes who didn’t have to grow up too much.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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