ALA Annual 2024

Making Connections, Keeping in Touch – After #alaac24

Meeting new contacts and potential friends is one of the main highlights of attending a professional conference such as #alaac24. But how do you keep in touch once we’ve headed home to our respective cities? It’s one thing to follow a blog or Instagram account of a librarian you admire, but the personal connections are truly meaningful. I’m located on another continent, so I’ve had a lot of practice keeping in touch over long distances, and I’m grateful for the tools we have at our disposal to remain in contact with professional networks and individuals who live and work far away, but it still takes time to maintain connections. I have a few tips for things you can do now and in the coming weeks and months to nurture those new connections: 

Send an email today. If you traded business cards with someone fun/kind/interesting/funny/inspiring then send a note now so that you are in touch. Ideally, mention how you met, for example: “It was great to meet you at the insert-name-of-booth-here. I would love to hear more about the preschool programs you mentioned.” It doesn’t have to be long, but send it now. I’ll be writing to my fellow conference bloggers once I wrap up this post. I didn’t have a chance to meet them all in person, but like many of you, I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Hurtado’s post about blanacing professional growth and self-care, and Amy Power Labson’s recap of Trevor Noah’s opening session, and I’ll write to tell them so.

Follow on Insta. If you meet someone who actively maintains a social media account, follow them before you forget how to spell their handle. Once you follow them, be sure to engage with more than just a click. Comment on a photo you like, and as noted above, feel free to remind the person how you know them, if appropriate. 

Set up a coffee date. Now that you’re in touch, reach out to that new connection if you’ll be stopping by their city on your next trip. See if they have time to meet up. If not, you’re in the same place you started, but most often they will be happy you reached out. 

Drop by the library. Most library professionals are happy to show colleagues around. I love when visiting librarians stop by The American Library in Paris (come visit anytime!), and so do my coworkers. If you can reach out ahead of time to let your contact know when you’ll be in town that’s ideal, but if you aren’t sure about your schedule, an impromptu visit is usually welcome too. 

Send a note. This is more time consuming than an email, but I am pen pals with several people I’ve met at conferences over the years, and it’s very rewarding. If you really enjoyed meeting someone, you can let them know by sending a note to their library, or, you could ask for their mailing address directly. I’ve never met anyone who is not excited to receive snail mail.

Volunteer for a committee, group, or task force. This is a bigger commitment, but my number-one tip for maintaining a professional network. If you are a member of these divisions, you can fill out a volunteer form for ALSC, YALSA, or AASL for short-term or long-term commitments, and there’s no better way to get involved.

Conference Blogger Celeste Rhoads (she/her/hers) is originally from John Steinbeck’s hometown of Salinas, California, where she read on the beach, in trees, on road trips, and everywhere in between. She moved to Paris in 2005, and immediately found a home at the American Library in Paris. As the Children’s and Teens’ Services Manager, she oversees the Library’s collections, policies, and programs for ages 0–18. Celeste has a master’s degree in Library Science from Rutgers University, where she focused on digital libraries, and children’s literature. Celeste enjoys connecting people of all ages with great reads—especially contemporary titles. 

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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