As I mentioned before, I’ve been off the radar lately because last week I traveled to Anaheim, California for the American Library Association Annual Conference. Parts of it were madness– the vendor opening looked like Black Friday at the mall. And parts of it were just delightful– George R.R. Martin‘s talk about growing up in the projects but “living a thousand lives” through books.
This was my first time at ALA, so I’ve compiled the top five tips I learned along the way.
5. The dress is business casual, not standard business. Suit and tie, not required. I had heard from friends that the dress code was formal. It’s not. Wear jeans and a nice shirt, and you’ll be golden. Unless you’re presenting, of course. Then snappy attire is encouraged.
4. Bring plenty of non-Internet related stuff to do– especially if you are traveling a long distance. I know this is common sense to most seasoned travelers, but the hotel and the airport didn’t have free wi-fi. Then, on the plane, my computer died and my pencil broke. I was so bored, I actually (gasp!) struck up a conversation with my seat neighbor.
3. Which brings me to my next tip: strike up a conversation with your fellow librarians. I met the best people waiting in line at book signings or on the escalator. Librarians are all fun people. I know that’s a gross generalization, but I promise, it’s not just you, the rest of us are fun too.
2. (Another fabulous segue!) HAVE SOME FUN. I had a couple of fruity drinks at lunch by the pool. I met with one of my favorite friends from library school and we went to Downtown Disney to watch the fireworks. I didn’t regret one minute of it. I know it’s a conference, but sometimes you also need downtime.
1. You don’t have to go to every single talk. Sometimes it’s more worth your time to stand in line to see one of your favorite authors. (I met Sherman Alexie! I was so starstruck. I’m sure he thought I was a total dweeb.) It’s also ok to leave the talk if it isn’t what you thought it might be and bounce into another session. Just sit in the back and be respectful of others.
Those are my tips from the ALA 2012 conference. Did you attend? I’d love to hear other tips in the comments.