ALA Annual Countdown


Like many of my fellow professionals, I will be attending the ALA annual conference this week in Washington DC. I’m excited to be attending my first annual national conference; I’ve attended my state conference a number of times over the past couple of years. After the Midwinter meeting, I’m pretty interested to see what the full deal looks like. (And I’m looking forawrd to the eventual end to all of the email and snail mail that I’ve gotten in the last two weeks. I almost threw out the envelope with my conference card in it because it was in the same mail pile.)

I will be crossing off one thing from the career bucket list: presenting at ALA. On Saturday at the Washington Convention Center (Room 203), I will be one of the speakers for the “Advocacy and Social Media” program sponsored by REFORMA and PLA. I will be giving the full account of the saga of the “People for a Library Themed Ben & Jerry’s Flavor” campaign, from the start to finish (virtual finish, because there isn’t much left to be done). For this talk, I’m going to be taking TED Commandments to heart; I hope to make it a fun experience for all those who attend.

I’ve been refining my notes for the talk, but I’m having a hard time getting myself to settle down and give a few practice talks. I’m confident in the material that I have and the style I wish to present it in, but I have yet to time it out or figure out some of the smaller details. I find that rehearsing makes me more confident and relaxed for the real deal, but getting myself to settle down and rehearse… that’s another deal. Still, I will have something to say that Saturday and it will fill up 15-20 minutes of program time (or possibly 25).

The other part of the appeal is the location itself; I’ve been meaning to visit Washington for a long time. As a history buff, it’s just one giant location loaded with items from the nation’s past. I’ve penciled in some tourist time, but it’s not a lot overall so I have to pick my sights carefully. Hopefully, I will not get consumed in the other activities (both conference and social) that I will not be able to take the time. But at least Washington is a short trip away from New Jersey, so I can always come again at a later time.

For those interested, I have constructed a “ALA newbie” list on Twitter. You can follow the tweets of people attending their first conference. I’m looking forward to checking in on the list and see how other people’s experiences are going.

I’ll see people in Washington. If you see someone who looks like this, be sure to stop me and say hello!

3 thoughts on “ALA Annual Countdown

  1. Andy, as a guy who’s been to many ALAs, here’s my advice: a) don’t overschedule. Be flexible. The best ALA experiences are the ones you don’t plan. You might bump into someone interesting and could spend 2 or 3 hours picking that person’s brain. b) You’re a bright and creative librarian with an awesome future. Seek out people in the area of library publishing who can help your writing career. You have a great blog and you’ve done some creative things in the profession. You have something to say. Get connected to the people who can lead you down the publishing path. c) Scrap the history tours. You can do DC anytime. Maximize every minute of ALA. Get out of your comfort zone attend programs and listen to speakers who might challenge your thinking rather than validate it. d) Like I said, you are a future big time leader. Hang around the leaders in the profession, and take tons of old fashioned business cards. Good luck. I really do love your blog. You’re not afraid to take a stand. I like that.

    • Thanks, Will, for the compliments! That really made my night and I thank you for your kind words.

      From my friends who have gone before, they have given me the same sort of advice: your schedule is more of a guideline than a rule. With the exception of the activities that I have committed to (like speaking on Saturday and Battledecks on Monday), everything else is up for grab. I have penciled in all of the social activities offered but, as you suggested, I’m remaining pretty flexible.

      I certainly hope to meet up with you at the conference. Maybe you’ll give me a chance to explain Twitter for you. (And it’s not a completely pro-Twitter case. =D )

  2. I’m also headed to ALA for the first time and have just followed you on twitter. Am thinking about making my twitter stream public so I can maximize the connections.

    Best of luck at the conference and with the presentation. I will try to catch it!

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