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  • 1.  First Time at ALA

    Posted Jun 19, 2018 05:15 PM
    My name is Chris Hemingway and I am from Hagaman Library in East Haven, Connecticut. This is my first time attending ALA Annual Conference. Very happy to be attending and look forward to meeting so many librarians from across the nation.
    Any tips for attending for the first time?
    Thanks and hope everyone enjoys the conference!
    Chris Hemingway
    Hagaman Memorial Library
    227 Main St.
    East Haven, CT 06512

  • 2.  RE: First Time at ALA

    Posted Jun 20, 2018 07:33 AM
    Maybe some repeat of what others said.  And thanks for posting.  This question is one that every year I say we should right a blog about and add to it each year!

    General conference site is useful.  Specific links below.  ALA Annual 2018 Conference Site

    1. Check out the scheduler ahead of going!  Make a custom list of what you think you may want to attend.  I'd start by checking everything that looks like you may be interested.  It does not hurt to have multiple things on your agenda at one time.  Leave time to get from one priority event to another.  You may have plans change or find one event is next to another so it gives you flexibility:

    2018 Annual Conference Scheduler

    2. You can use the app to keep your schedule.  I am old school so I save the my schedule from the site to PDF and keep it on my phone.  Then I know that I can pull it up even if I have no connection to the Internet.  If you are real old school you can just make your schedule on a computer and print it.  No judgment here!

    2018 Annual Conference Mobile App

    3. Put your personal appointments in the scheduler as well!  I find it useful to make an entry for my flights with all the basic info (like times, airlines, etc.) so I have it in the same place as everything else.  I also make an "appointment" in the scheduler for my hotel check in so I have the name, address, and phone of the hotel when I arrive.

    4. Conference covers a large geographic area.  Thanks always to GALE for providing free conference shuttles for ALA conferences.  If you need to get around town and you are registered for the conference you can catch the shuttle at various hotels and the conference center.  This is very useful.  Even if you are using it to cross town to meet a friend for a meal or to go to a museum or other non-conference venue.  Keep it mine that it is free but it has a set time it runs and does not run in the evenings.  More info on the site at:

    Shuttle Services | ALA Annual 2018

    5. Make sure to go to Exhibits.  Lots of freebies for fun but also a great chance to meet with vendors.  Opening reception with hors d'oeuvres on Friday night.  If you are a light eater then it is actually enough for "dinner."  I'd hit the actual exhibits earlier in the conference, Sat or Sun if you can make it.  Or stop in multiple times.  Some people bring extra luggage for taking things back, lol.  But you will get a printed schedule and free bag when you check in.  That is enough to fill for many people.  You gotta get it back home!  If you go all out, you can ship boxes back on site . . .

    6. If you have your email from registering, I save the barcode confirmation to my phone as an image.  Then when you registered, you just get in the Pre-Registered off site line and have them scan that barcode.  Quick and easy.  If you don't have it, no problem.  They can look you up by name.  Just make sure to get in the right line.  If you did not pre-register you will get in the on-site registration line.

    7. For travel, I bring some extra cash.  I like to have enough on hand for unexpected cash only things, like tipping for cabs, hotel services, etc.  And for spending for fun.  I also keep a packing list for other things that I like to take, and to make sure I have when I am packing up to head home.  FWIW, don't take your favorite charging chord if you can't part with it.  It may be lost in the shuffle . . .

    Try to not to get overwhelmed!  Get to what you can at conference and don't fret what you miss.  Obviously if an employer or other group is sending you make sure to prioritize what they want you to go to.  If you are on committees those meetings are commitments as well!

    That's all I got at the moment!  Have a good ALA.

    Steven K. Bowers
    Executive Director

  • 3.  RE: First Time at ALA

    Posted Jun 20, 2018 08:55 AM
    Chris, New Orleans will be hot (I live 80 miles away) so bring light weight clothes and comfortable shoes.  Select the programs you really want to attend because you might not make it to every program, especially if the program is in a conference hotel which I think they aren't using as much for programs.   Read the Cognotes because room assignments sometimes change or speakers miss flights due to weather.  You don't have to go to programs 8 to 5, networking with other librarians is just as important. You can get wonderful ideas.  Have fun!  And eat some of our wonderful food!

    Mary Cosper LeBoeuf
    Terrebonne Parish Library Main Library

  • 4.  RE: First Time at ALA

    Posted Jun 20, 2018 12:24 PM
    Conference time is a great time to meet with our "Library Tribe"

    1) Talk to people you don't know- they share the library ethos.

    2) Programs are wonderful.  Use the ALA scheduler on your phone and have a back up plans if the program you want is full.  By marking a program a favorite on the APP you will automatically get the materials show or distributed in that program, even if you don't make it to the room.

    3) Remember vendors are our Partners in Libraries, they are not servants or rich relatives.  We all want the same thing- providing our users what they can use.

    4) Most of the programs and meetings are in Conference Center this year, more walking less buses and LESS Programs and Meetings

    5) Get more involved with colleagues, join a round table or division also called Associations and volunteer for a committee/interest group. Some committees does all their work outside of physical meetings.  If the committee is "Full" for this coming year, you can still "go" to committees, follow them on Connect, and give your insights.  You just can't vote.  If you are looking for a friendly and user focused division look into Reference and User Services Association.

    If you have questions about ALA governance or getting more involved, feel free to contact me at or any other committee members of any ALA Unit

    Good luck, have fun, safe travels, and drink water