Thursday, July 10, 2008

Visiting ALA Annual as a Newbie

Having been back from the Annual Conference in California for almost a week now I am settled back into the daily routine and ready to review my first time at ALA. As a new academic librarian and first timer to anything ALA related I was so excited to get there and see what brings 20,000 plus librarians away from their desks and out to the pacific coast. Of course I did the early bird registration and had been pouring over the preliminary program, trying to plan my conference time with appropriate sessions. As the conference grew closer I received much welcomed advice from my fellow colleagues also attending. One of the best pieces of advice, other than wear comfy shoes (which I of course only packed sandals with heels and ended up at Target in search of flip flops), was to leave yourself some breathing room. Often times there are additional events, sessions or just networking with others that pop up and will become a valuable resource. Also it is a good idea, if pre-planning your sessions, to pick back up options. Unfortunately, I was closed out of a session that filled up quickly only to find myself walking across the hall to attend my second choice. This turned out to be a wonderful session called Protecting Planet Earth sponsored by AFL FOLUSA, where each author not only captured my attention but gave away signed copies of their books!
Overall as a newbie, I think I did fairly well. I was happy with all of my selected sessions, only got lost once, took home 5 wonderful new books, and met some great people and decided to join a few organizations. The only thing I may not have done as well as others, is take full advantage of grabbing low cost and free items from the exhibit booths. Next time I'll be ready.
I would like to make mention of a great ALA organization called New Members Round Table (NMRT). I learned about this group at the conference and wished I would have discovered them sooner. They provide great resources and programs for new librarians or new ALA conference attendees or both. I recommend taking a look at their website. I know I will.

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