ALA Annual 2013 Survival Guide

As we highlighted on Tuesday, ALA Annual is fast approaching. In order to help those attending, I’ve compiled a list of conference tips and tricks that have helped me over the years. There are also some additional conference survival guides, and some resources on social events and activities – socials are where you can make a lot of connections very quickly and have a little fun too!

  1. USE THE CONFERENCE SCHEDULER! Plan your days out before you get to the conference. I mean really plan, have ideas for places you can eat, maps and/or address of where you need to go etc. ALA has a pretty handy conference scheduler that you can use to plan your sessions, AND it gets updated when rooms change.
  2.  Dress Code: This is a matter of personal style and/or brand, but generally business casual is a good place to be during the day. In the evening for conference sanctioned events I stick with semi-professional dress. What’s most important is that you wear something that is comfortable for extended periods of time, especially your shoes. I know everyone talks about wearing comfortable shoes, but having twice broken-in shoes at a conference…trust me, it’s not pretty.
  3. When you pick up your conference badge: They’re going to try and give you MANY THINGS, including a huge conference program that is already out-of-date. What I do is take only the program and a coupon book for the exhibit hall. Then I sit down and tear out the maps and bus shuttle schedule from the program to keep, and recycle the rest of the program. If you’ve got an electronic device you can find what you need in the scheduler – and these are all updated with new times and locations! If you insist that you need paper, there is a paper program at all information stands. Use theirs and save your back!
  4. Regarding conference swag: if you wouldn’t pay for it (even a dollar) then do not take it! It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the headphones, pens, books, and endless quantities of tote bags. Remember that you have to carry them until you get to your hotel AND you have to get them home.
  5. Business Cards: Bring plenty, and when you get one from someone else write on the back of it why you took the card (i.e. I need to email them about this, they write this, etc). Write down whatever is going to help you remember. I keep these in my badge holder, because it forces me to process them quickly.
  6. What do I carry around? Try not to start the day with a huge bag of stuff, you will ended up with papers, books, business cards, and other ephemera. I have a conference kit that I carry around, which I’ll be honest is a little overboard; that said, I’m everyone’s best friend when they need something. I carry (in addition to what’s normally in my purse):
    • A bag I can carry comfortably all day and night (that super cute – handbag that is hard to carry…not a good call)
    • iPhone & charger
    • Cash
    • Business cards
    • A sweater (the conference centers are COLD)
    • Pens & paper (usually a small notebook)
    • Water bottle
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Mints or gum
    • Snacks
    • Band-Aids (for your poor feet after you wear uncomfortable shoes)
    • Advil
    • Umbrella (if the weatherperson says so)
    • Laptop or iPad (only if I really really need it and of course pack the charger too)

Other Tips 

  • Go to the social events.
  • Don’t just hang out with people you know.
  • Try some local eats or spaces. You’ve paid a lot to go to the city, you might as well get some sight-seeing in.
  • Take alone time if you need it.
  • Do your best to eat well and sleep.
  • Take Emergen-C, Airborne, and/or vitamins (thousands of people = germ pit).

Other Conference Survival Guides

Librarian by Day: ALA Survival Tips, New & Improved for #ALA13
Free Range Librarian: ALA Conference Survival Tips — 35 Conferences Later
NMRT Twitter Chat on Conference Tips

ALA 101 Sessions
Many divisions host 101 sessions for first-time attendees, these are great way to learn about the conference, meet other newbies, and meet some veterans eager to help. These sessions include:

  • NMRT 101 – Friday, June 28, 2013 – 1:00pm to 2:30pm – McCormick Place Convention Center – S104a
  • LITA 101: Open House –  Friday, June 28, 2013 – 3:00pm to 4:00pm – McCormick Place Convention Center – S401bc
  • RUSA 101: Network, Get Oriented, Get Involved – Friday, June 28, 2013 – 3:00pm to 4:00pm – Hyatt Regency McCormick Place – Jackson Park 10ABC
  • ALCTS 101 – Friday, June 28, 2013 – 7:30pm to 9:30pm – Hyatt Regency McCormick Place – Grant Park 12AB
  • ACRL 101 & Membership Meeting – Saturday, June 29, 2013 – 8:30am to 10:00am – Hyatt Regency Chicago – Grand CD
  • AASL 101 – Saturday, June 29, 2013 – 3:00pm to 4:00pm – McCormick Place Convention Center – N133
  • ALSC 101 – Saturday, June 29, 2013 – 4:30pm to 6:30pm – McCormick Place Convention Center – Hall A, Meeting Room A

Not-to-be-Missed Sessions 

  • Sessions from your at the iSchool colleagues
  • Emerging Leaders Poster Session – Friday, June 28, 2013 – 3:00pm to 4:00pm – McCormick Place Convention Center S405
    The ALA 2013 class of Emerging Leaders will showcase their final projects at a poster session and reception at this poster session. It will be the culminating event for this class of Emerging Leaders. Since the ALA Midwinter Meeting the groups have been working virtually on projects related to ALA or a professional concern. These groups have been supported by ALA staff and member mentors from the profession. The poster session will allow each group to showcase its creative and innovative solutions for their projects.
  • ALA Ignite Sessions
    Every afternoon Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 11:30-12:00pm there will be “Ignite” sessions, these are 5 minute presentations on all sorts of topics from innovative librarians.
  • Conversation Starters: Stand Out and Be Outstanding: Fearlessly Leading Your Library Career Saturday, June 29, 2013 – 4:00pm to 4:45pm – McCormick Place Convention Center – S102d
    What does it mean to lead and be recognized as a leader in the library profession? And what exactly is a rock star librarian, anyway? This session will spark an exchange of ideas about what it means to stand out- and be outstanding- in the library field.
  • ALA Resume Review Service – Saturday, June 29 & Sunday, June 30, 2013 – 9:00pm-5:00pm – McCormick Place Convention Center Placement
    If you need help getting your resume polished, stop by the Placement Center while you are at conference. Come and discover the best way to show your most recent accomplishments with an updated resume.
  • Association Options Fair – Sunday, June 30, 2013 – 1:00pm-2:30pm – McCormick Place Convention Center Hall A, Meeting Room D
    The Association Options Fair provides interested members from diverse backgrounds with an opportunity to visit with Association, Division, Committee, Affiliate, and Roundtable representative leaders to discuss volunteer opportunities. A speed networking approach allows members to visit briefly with member groups and take note of possible leads for future involvement.


Gotta Tip? Share it in the comments!

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  1. Pingback: Excitement, Appearances, Catch-all | Sketch Librarian

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