Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to Make the Most of Your First ALA Midwinter

I attended my first ALA official conference other the weekend in Boston.  I had an amazing time, attending meetings, manning the SU booth, looking at exhibits and hanging out with my fellow students.  Overall, the conference was a stunning success for me and I have a few tips on what one should do for their first conference.

First, try to attend a workshop on Friday if you are interested in any of the topics.  They are of very low cost to the students and you are able to meet librarians in the field you are interested in.  Additionally, you get training that is not offered in school.  I attended the Genealogy Reference Desk Institute and my discussion of it is on my other blog, A Tale of Two Ancestors.

Second, make sure you plan what you want to attend in the way of meetings and exhibits.  The Event Planner is located on the conference page and, while slightly difficult to use at first, allows you to print out your schedule, which is much easier than trying to figure it out when you arrive with the huge book you receive.

Third, try to join a committee.  It is important to remember committee appointments are for 2 years and you are expected to attend all ALA conferences in that time.  I joined the membership committee of the International Relations Round Table.  This allows me to meet librarians in one of the fields I am interested in, help to build my resume and learn more about the inner workings of ALA.

Forth, work at the SU booth if possible and spend time with your fellow students.  The SU booth gives you opportunities to meet SU alumni and network.  Hanging out with your fellow students allows you to learn more about the people who you take classes with and will be your network in the future.

Fifth, walk around to all the exhibits.  There are free books and swag, author signings and all sorts of things you have not yet thought about in your classes, such as insurance and ways to furnish your library.

Sixth, read Cognotes every day.  It is the newsletter of ALA conferences and is published daily.  It tells about events, author signings and any changes in the schedule.

Last, but not least, remember that Midwinter is business meetings, not workshops.  It is not as "exciting" as Annual is, but if you are interested in how ALA committees run and to network, it is a fantastic event!

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