Dorian, my cat, didn't want me to go.
I've been meaning to write this since I got
back a week and a half ago, but alas, here it is.
There's so much to say about attending ALA, but I'll try to focus on the logistical parts and perhaps unwrap the learning parts at a later date. First,
I have to say ALA was a whirlwind. After finishing an entire class workload the weekend before leaving, alongside preparing for the conference on my own and with my student chapter of ALA, I was exhausted before we hit the road.
And, the trip itself, as well as navigating the city was telling. I learned that you can never underestimate your ignorance of how a new city works: from traffic to special events to best routes and diners. It was my fourth time visiting Chicago, and I've always loved the city. My only personal goal for the trip outside of ALA was to visit the aquarium. Check.
As for the conference, they were right when they recommended walking shoes and a water bottle (see: any person who writes about a conference). I bought new flats for this purpose and have since wore them out.
I'm extremely glad I brought a new notebook with me. Because I have trouble focusing on people talk for that long (Who wouldn't?), the notebook let me take notes without having to lug around a heavy laptop or waste phone battery. And it proved useful in more ways than one. After attending back to back sessions, I began forgetting what I attended after a few hours and had to go back to the notebook to remember.
It may just be me, but the recommendation to purchase 250 business cards was...off. I more than enough left after the conference and found it to be awkward/weird to just offer business cards even after chatting with someone for a while. Very few people were forward about it, indicating that either they didn't care to exchange, or that it wasn't a common occurrence. I'll likely research this before going to another conference soon .
The exhibit hall: I never realized that some people could be so easily rude. It's a free book, not a free vacation. Not to mention, it's an advanced reader copy, so you can't circulate it. I had people grab every item in sight and not care who they knocked down. How on earth is it a good decision to take 7 books from one vendor? I'm glad I followed advice and was selective in my new materials. I do believe I stole this cute finger puppet though... Sorry vendors!
Librarians can party...hard. At least, that's what the Twitter feed said and what I overheard in the lunch line. I was too busy sleeping after the conference to even consider going out to a party until 2am. I'm lame, I know. But I don't really regret it, as I wanted to attend as many sessions as I could.
All in all, it was a very valuable experience. I went to a Tweet-up happy hour, iSchool reception, attended more sessions than I care to share, and I got to connect with other students and professionals in the field. Every day, I made small goals to keep me out of my comfort zone and constantly exploring. Although I doubt I'll be able to attend the conference any time in the near future, I'm already researching other opportunities.
Next post: My Education at the Conference
Recent MLIS graduate & lover of writing. This is a narrative of my first look into the librarian profession.