I’ve just returned from my first American Library Association Annual conference. I had a wonderful time and met many lovely people.

While I heeded the advice to wear comfortable shoes, there were a few things I wish I would have known!

  • Dress warmly for the air conditioning in the convention center. A light sweater is not enough. Long underwear might be acceptable.

    The beautiful, and freezing, Anaheim Convention Center, location of many of the conference sessions and vats of ice water…
  • Bring a notepad or notebook that will fold over on itself rather than a fancy portfolio that opens flat. When you are squished in between people in a session, they may glare at you if your stuff spreads onto their laps.
  • Don’t go to the opening of the Exhibit Hall. Those mild and friendly-looking librarians may stampede when the Exhibit doors open. Also, it is unwise to get between anyone and the free canvas bags from Baker and Taylor with cats on them.

All kidding aside, here are some highlights from the sessions and panels I attended and some of the great ideas I heard:

  • The Unconference- the Marketing and Programming discussion tables yielded some great ideas for increasing the visibility of your library and its programs. My favorite: a bike outreach cruiser that goes around to local festivals and farmer’s markets promoting the library and signing people up for library cards. Pima County Library is already doing this. Could I have this job, please?
  • Keynote speech- Consent of the Networked author, Rebecca McKinnon, gave a sobering talk on ways governments and corporations are undermining internet privacy and censoring free speech in the U.S. and around the world. McKinnon has a great TED talk if you want a taste of her thought-provoking research.
  • LibValue and Academic Library Assessment- some wonderful research projects are going on around the country, funded by IMLS and headed up by Dr. Carol Tenopir of University of Tennessee and Bruce Kingma of Syracuse University. The projects will help establish new ways of measuring the value of academic libraries, including Return On Investment measures and use of the contingent valuation method.

    This lovely table surrounded by flowers looks so inviting, doesn’t it? This first-time attendee was too busy to smell the flowers, though! “How do I catch the shuttle for the Disneyland Hotel in time for my next session??”
  • ACRL 101- Great information about how to get involved with ACRL divisions, committees, and interest groups. Did you know there is a ‘List of Lists‘ for all of the ALA-affiliated listservs? Thanks to Lindsay Sarin for pointing this out!
  • ACRL New Members Discussion Group- This panel discussed the “Other Duties as Required” in your job description, including pros and cons of working in areas that are not part of your “essential duties” and the perspective of library leadership, who often need flexibility among staff to help cover shortages and reduced budgets.
  • Diversity and Outreach Fair and Bookmobile Parade- Great poster presentations by a variety of information professionals:

    A display of the 2012 Coretta Scott King Book Award finalists at the Diversity and Outreach Fair.
  • Joel Nichols, representing Philadelphia Free Library’s new Techmobile (provided for by the BTOP grant)
  • San Diego County Library’s beautiful custom-built bookmobile that travels thousands of miles each month. If I could live in one of these, I think I would.

Finally, a huge thanks to Elliot Mandel and John Amundsen at the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services and to Don Wood at the ALA Student-to-Staff program for allowing me and 39 other LIS Students to attend this year’s Annual conference!

Do you have tips for me on attending future conferences? Were there great ideas that you heard about at ALA? Please share your thoughts!

Every Lego-lover’s dream! The awesome Lego store at Downtown Disney.

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