November 17, 2017

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Top 10 Tips for ALA 2016

ALA 2016 headliners Margaret Atwood, Jazz Jennings, and Brad Meltzer Photos courtesy of the American Library Association

ALA 2016 headliners Margaret Atwood, Jazz Jennings, and Brad Meltzer.
Photos courtesy of the American Library Association

How can you get the most out of the 2016 ALA Annual Conference? Check out these tips.

Prep right

Use the online program and scheduling tool to set up your conference calendar prior to arrival. Check in with coworkers or other colleagues attending the conference to divide and conquer the must-do sessions, and set up a list of necessary vendor visits and author signings in the exhibit hall.

Pack smart

A prepared conference goer is a happy one! Comfortable shoes, layered clothing options, a personal water bottle, business cards, and charging cords and batteries for your devices—plus a portable charger—will ensure you are comfortable and connected.

Take charge of your PD

Ready to learn? The Association for Library Service to Children’s (ALSC) “Early Literacy Beyond the Library” program highlights community-engagement strategies such as using text messages to deliver early learning tips. “InbeTWEEN” from ALSC addresses this particular demographic’s need for materials and programming. AASL’s “Best Apps for Teaching and Learning” is always a popular session.

Branch out

Broaden your horizons with leadership and management sessions from LLAMA (Library Leadership and Management Association), best practices programming from RUSA (Reference and User Services Association), or dig into library technology with LITA (Library Information Technology Association).

Get engaged

Enhance your conference experience with social opportunities. Check out the “Opportunities for Engagement” page on the conference site to find information on unconferencing, a ThinkFit yoga class, the networking uncommons, film-watching opportunities, and more.

Network like a pro

Take the time to say hi while waiting in line for a shuttle bus or author signing. Have a special business card with your social media usernames, or add a sticker to your work-issued card. Social events like the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) or PLA (Public Library Association) happy hour and the ALSC/YALSA member reception are a great chance to unwind and meet up with friends old and new.

Be flexible

Have a second choice in mind when arriving at packed-to-capacity sessions. A fallback plan is also handy if you feel the program you’ve just joined is not delivering the content you had in mind. Give it a 15-minute test and quietly leave the room to find a better match.

Break out of classroom mode

The Book Buzz Theater, Pop Top Programs, Graphic Novels/Gaming Stage, and more are located in the exhibits hall. These sessions are a great way to add variety to your conference schedule. You won’t want to miss seeing incredible speakers like Margaret Atwood, Jazz Jennings, and Brad Meltzer, who are part of the Auditorium Speaker Series.

First-timers: seek advice

ALA has a great resource page for those who are attending their first conference. The New Members Round Table (NMRT) also has a page of conference tips. Enjoy!

Level up

Up your engagement by using social media like Twitter to stay on top of the day’s events. Use the hashtag #alaac16 as well as division and program-specific hashtags. If you’re a veteran attendee, reach out to first-timers and help them navigate the conference.

Witteveen-April_Contrib_WebApril Witteveen is a community and teen services librarian with the Deschutes Public Library in beautiful Bend, OR.

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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