ACRL OnPoint Chat Archive May 19, 2010: Getting to Know YOUR Conference

Are you attending the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. this summer? Is this your first time attending Annual? Come join the Emerging Leaders ACRL 101 Team for a chat session on thriving at your first ALA Annual. We will be hosting two OnPoint chat sessions to discuss details ranging from "How do I get around?" to "Will my shoes be librarian-chic enough?" and anything else you care to talk about.

Join us on May 19 for an OnPoint chat hosted by Miriam Rigby (University of Oregon-Eugene), Hui-Fen Chang (Oklahoma State University), and Rachel Slough (Indiana University).

10:00 Miriam Rigby
So, as we’re letting a few more people trickle in to the chat, we (the hosts) can introduce ourselves: We’re Hui-Fen, Rachel Slough, and myself.

10:01 Miriam Rigby
I’m a Social Sciences Librarian at the University of Oregon, and I’ve been to 1 midwinter and two annual conferences, this will be my third -- though I've not been to DC since I was 4 years old.

10:01 Hui-Fen Chang
I'm Hui-Fen Chang,reference & instruction librarian at Oklahoma State University

10:02 Rachel Slough
I'm Rachel, and I'm finishing my MLS at Indiana University. I've been to one midwinter and one annual.

10:02 Rachel Slough
We're really glad you're here today.

10:03 Miriam Rigby
We have all sorts of information that we can share with you, but we thought we'd start by opening it up to questions. -- and if you feel like introducing yourselves, feel free to do that too

10:04 Meredith Donnelly
I'm Meredith. I will finish up my MLIS from the Univ. Washington in June. This will be my first time at ALA.

10:04 Megan Dazey
Hi, I'm Megan. I'm the Catalog Database Section Head at the University of Montana, and this will be my first ALA.

10:04 Ashlee
Hi, I'm Ashlee. I'm in an MLIS program at Kent in Ohio. I've never been to any ALA conferences.

10:06 Ashlee
I really don't know what to expect so maybe if one of you shared your first time conference experience, like what you took away from it and what lessons you learned that were important.

10:06 Julie
Hi, I'm Julie. I am the Librarian for the Westwood College, North Campus in Denver. This will be my first time attending the ALA annual conference.

10:07 Amanda
I'm Amanda and this will be my first annual conference. I'd like to hear about what sessions you think would be important for first-time attendees.

10:07 Rachel Slough
@Ashlee: I guess I'll jump in on this one. I was pretty overwhelmed by my 1st ALA. There is just sooo much.

10:07 Rachel Slough
The best advice I'd have is have multiple plans of things you might like to attend, and then be open to changing your mind on the spot.

10:08 Rachel Slough
And not letting yourself get stressed out by the fact that there is so much to choose from. Whatever you pick will be good. Or if you don't love it, you can cut out, and that's ok.

10:08 Meredith Donnelly
My main question (and the reason I joined this chat) was to find out what are the best networking opportunities for job seekers, other than the offerings through the job placement center.

10:09 Miriam Rigby
I agree with Rachel -- often, if you have multiple things you want to attend, one will end up being the most convenient to get to, so just go with it.

10:09 Ashlee
Are the large sessions, like opening and closing, worth attending?

10:10 Miriam Rigby
Meredith -- definitely going to discussion groups of people you are interersted in is useful. I always attend the Sociology Librarians Discussion Group (and the Anthro one too) for instance.

10:10 Rachel Slough
I'd agree with Miriam on that one. Discussion groups or things with breakout sessions where you can talk to people

10:10 Meredith Donnelly
okay...that's great! are they usually an extra fee?

10:10 Miriam Rigby
There are also a ton of social events in the evenings. They're places where you can chat casually over food (sometimes free, sometimes not).

10:11 Miriam Rigby
No fee for most things.

10:11 Meredith Donnelly

10:11 Rachel Slough
Amanda, for 1st time attendees, I'd pick a "welcome to ALA" kind of meeting. Most sections have them.

10:11 Vivian Linderman
As a first year LIS student at UNT/Los Angeles Cohort, I have never been to a conference. Can you explain the Poster sessions?

10:11 Rachel Slough
There is an ACRL 101, and the New member round table has one, and I think LIRT, and several sections.

10:11 Rachel Slough
Any of these can help you get a sense of what the organization does and how to navigate ALA.

10:12 Miriam Rigby
Once the ALA Event Planner is up, it's worth going through the daily listings and searching for things like ACRL (or a specific interest group like ANSS) to see the listings for discussions and socials

10:12 Hui-Fen Chang
Planning ahead is the key for me. I found the event planner useful to plan your schedule. It will be available in late May @

10:13 Miriam Rigby
It looks like only the downloadable (not online planner) is up so far -- but still useful --

10:13 Rachel Slough
You can also check section websites to see their plan.

10:14 Miriam Rigby
Another useful thing, is if there is a ACRL Section that you are interested in, join their list-serv, or their ALA Connect page -- because they will post their schedules

10:15 Rachel Slough
Does that help?

10:15 Miriam Rigby
As for Poster Sessions, they can be really good for talking with people doing research, and seeing what hot topics are out there.

10:16 Miriam Rigby
Poster Sessions are limited duration, so, each time there's a poster session, there will be new people with new posters

10:16 Megan Dazey
When will the locations of the programs be up?

10:16 Vivian Linderman
Are they in specified rooms or the main vendor floor?

10:17 Miriam Rigby
Poster Sessions are usually near the vendor floor

10:17 Hui-Fen Chang
I think the locations are up @

10:17 Miriam Rigby
There are often also vendors giving out snacks right around the opening times for the Posters

10:18 Miriam Rigby
I recall ice-cream treats one year

10:18 Meredith Donnelly
I have another question. I am going to the conference by myself and have thought about bringing a non-ALA friend to hang out when I'm not doing conference stuff.

10:18 Meredith Donnelly
Do you think this would ultimately be a burden, because I'd end up wanting to attend more things that my friend couldn't come to?

10:19 Megan Dazey
Thanks Hui-Fen, I hadn't looked in the last few days.

10:19 Miriam Rigby
I guess it depends on how independant your friend is, and how much you want to attend. Sometimes, it can take a lot of your day just hopping from one event to another.

10:19 Rachel Slough
That's true

10:19 Vivian Linderman
Are the sessions so crowded that it is recommended to get to each early to get a seat?

10:20 Rachel Slough
I think it depends on the sessions

10:20 Meredith Donnelly
Thank you, that helps.

10:20 Rachel Slough
At least in Chicago (and I assume DC?), getting from one location to another could be time consuming

10:20 Miriam Rigby
As for the Events Planner - once it's up online, you can make a personalized calendar that you can print out, with times and locations of everything that you might want to atttend, and then you can decide as you go.

10:21 Miriam Rigby
Vivian -- some of the big talks will be, but there is usally enough seating, it's just a question of if you get good seating

10:21 Miriam Rigby
Opening talks, and big authors, are often the most crowded

10:21 Meredith Donnelly
What's your favorite thing to attend at ALA conferences? Or favorite type of thing?

10:21 Vivian Linderman
Good to know, thanks.

10:22 Rachel Slough
Meredith, I really like the discussion groups

10:22 Julie
Regarding the interest groups, does one have to be an image librarian to join the ACRL image resource group's list serv?

10:22 Rachel Slough
They tend to be smaller, it's easier to meet people, and it's exciting to hear what other libraries are doing

10:22 Miriam Rigby
Julie - you can join any list serv you like -- and it's highly encouraged!

10:22 Meredith Donnelly
That sounds exactly like what I want, thank you!

10:23 Miriam Rigby
List-servs often have dozens of "lurkers"

10:23 Miriam Rigby
and you can learn quite a bit from the discussions

10:23 Megan Dazey
Are Vendor lunches worth the free food?

10:24 Vivian Linderman
How does the ALA mentor for first timers program work?

10:25 Julie
Speaking of food, is someone in charge of the meal planning, so we can determine how to budget for the week?

10:25 Rachel Slough
Vivian, I really liked the mentoring program. There's more information here:

10:25 Rachel Slough
But in brief, you're assigned someone, and that person will meet with you there and answer questions beforehand too.

10:26 Miriam Rigby
So, food... my favorite subject :D

10:26 Miriam Rigby
Vendor Lunches are worth it if they are close to where you are

10:26 Miriam Rigby
(or need to be next)

10:26 Miriam Rigby
You can eat and then leave -- no one will stop you

10:26 Miriam Rigby
although Ebsco held the coffee hostage one time

10:27 Miriam Rigby
The food is so-so and sometimes not bad

10:27 Miriam Rigby
the desserts tend to be pretty decent

10:27 Rachel Slough
Julie, I think meals are on your own.

10:28 Megan Dazey
Ebsco invited me, but it's Ebsco, so I was unsure. Thanks Miriam :)

10:28 Miriam Rigby
Personally, I hit as many free breakfasts and lunches and Elsevier Dessert Parties as I can, because I can't be reimbursed for meals

10:29 Julie
Are there cheap restaurants and grocery stores near by? It looks like the deadline date to receive a mentor has passed.

10:29 Kristin
ebsco is good with food issues...i.e. food allergies, intolerances, etc.

10:29 Miriam Rigby
Most of the lunches don't check reservations -- but it's useful to rsvp quickly for lunches because they do fill up. And when you rsvp you can indicate that you want veggie, etc.

10:29 Miriam Rigby
(if you get the emails or postcards from the vendors about meals)

10:30 Kristin
there is a section where you can request vegan, vegetarian, sugar free, gluten free, etc.

10:30 Vivian Linderman
I didn't see info in the program book on "free" meals to rsvp to; does that come out later?

10:30 Miriam Rigby
If you can go to an Alexander Street Press meal, I recommend it, because most of their speakers have cute British accents

10:30 Miriam Rigby
Vivian & Kristin -- all the meal info comes separately as emails and postcards from vendors.

10:31 Vivian Linderman
Oh, I think I didn't select the choice to get vendor emails.

10:31 Hui-Fen Chang
Yes. Once you registered for the conference, you'll start getting invitations.

10:31 Miriam Rigby
speaking of which -- here's one for an ASP Breakfast:

10:31 Kristin
right...on the online form for the ebsco luncheon, though, you can request special meals if you need them.

10:32 Megan Dazey
Here's the Ebsco Academic one:

10:32 Miriam Rigby
Some of the lunches are buffets, and some are plated

10:32 Julie
Is the Alexander one free?

10:32 David Free
Julie - The DC convention center is near chinatown which has some cheap options as i remember. A good bit of Subway/ Chipotle-esque fast food too.

10:33 Vivian Linderman
Thanks for the links!:D

10:33 Hui-Fen Chang
Good to know David :)

10:33 Julie
A Chinatown! Oh wow that will be great!

10:34 Meredith Donnelly
you know the discussions you reccomended? How do I know if a session has a discussion. from the Event planner I only saw two events that were described as being or having discussion elements? Do I just need to read throught the entire preliminary program>

10:34 Vivian Linderman
Does anyone know if there are tours of the LOC during the conference?

10:34 Miriam Rigby
Some things are called "Discussion Group"

10:34 David Free
There are usually grocery or at least Walgreen type places near CC areas too. Good for stocking your room and saving $$.

10:34 Miriam Rigby
Here are some of the parties and section socials:

10:34 Miriam Rigby
some are free, some are not

10:35 Rachel Slough
Here is a list of discussion groups:

10:35 Meredith Donnelly
Oh great! Thank you!!!

10:35 Miriam Rigby
And here is another one that I'm helping host (Anothropolgoy & Sociology group):

10:37 Miriam Rigby
Getting back to judging how much you can attend. Usually, unless events are in the same location, you should allow at least 30 minutes travel time between events, and possibly an hour

10:37 Miriam Rigby
The shuttles are a nice service, but they can be sloooow

10:37 Miriam Rigby
and if you're walking around, it will be hot outside

10:37 Kristin
i had success in chicago with asking people in the long bus lines if they want to share a cab

10:38 Miriam Rigby
It's very useful to bring a waterbottle (and I like to bring a coffee mug too)

10:38 Kristin
it made travel faster and a bit less expensive

10:38 Meredith Donnelly
I hear the circulator is very good in DC. It's the red bus and costs a dollar to ride. It hits most of the main areas in DC.

10:38 Meredith Donnelly
That's *Circulator

10:39 Hui-Fen Chang
One thing about planning your schedules though, it's probably a good idea not to plan to consecutive events held in two separation locations/hotels. Allow travel time between two locations.

10:39 Miriam Rigby
If you're planning on using public transit more than a couple times-- it's also worth getting a 7-day pass

10:39 Miriam Rigby
And allow time to veg-out

10:40 Julie
So the free shuttles provided by ALA to/from our hotels are not reliable? Can we get a copy of this Meebo converstation with the links?

10:40 Rachel Slough
I'd say they are reliable, but there are just lots of people

10:40 David Free
We will post an archive by the end of the day with linkage etc

10:41 Rachel Slough
So you may have to wait for the 2nd or 3rd shuttle

10:41 Vivian Linderman
I would also guess that you get loaded down with freebies from the vendor fair; so it might be a good idea not to have to plan your schedule so you don't have to lug that stuff around

10:41 Miriam Rigby
And the routes the shuttles take tend to focus on getting people to and from the convention center and the hotels, rather than between hotels

10:41 Kasey Snyder
How early should we hit the exhibit room on the first day? I hear that is when most of the free books are available.

10:42 Rachel Slough
Kasey, I would also recommend going at the end as they are closing

10:42 Miriam Rigby
Free books vary -- some are out all the time, some at closing

10:42 Vivian Linderman
Are there usually handouts for sessions? Is it a good idea to bring a laptop if you are a note-taker?

10:43 Hui-Fen Chang
Kasey--Some vendors give away their books last day of the exhibit.

10:43 Julie
RE travel...a metro pass was recommended at

10:44 Miriam Rigby
some sessions have handouts, often "handouts" are posted online

10:44 Rachel Slough
Many people do bring laptops

10:44 Miriam Rigby
I find it's useful to have some sort of internet access on me... though a lot of hotels will not have free wifi

10:44 Meredith Donnelly
Thank you so much for answering my questions! You all have been most helpful!

10:45 Miriam Rigby
The convention center at least often has free wifi

10:45 Rachel Slough
Meredith, I'm glad we could help.

10:45 Vivian Linderman
Back to my question: are there tours of the LOC?

10:46 Miriam Rigby
LOC is the second listing on this page,_Museums_and_Libraries

10:47 Miriam Rigby
Looks like there are a number of free public tours

10:47 Vivian Linderman

10:47 Miriam Rigby
I'm not sure if anyone has organized a behind the scenes tour

10:47 Miriam Rigby
sometimes a section will do that

10:48 Rachel Slough
Are there other questions?

10:48 Kasey Snyder
Is there any specific discussion for first timers, that anyone would recommend? I'm flying a bit blind on this one

10:48 Vivian Linderman
Also, tell us about the Book Cart competition? Can you see?

10:48 Julie
Do they post the PowerPoints slide presentations and handouts for the events for access before hand?

10:49 Rachel Slough
Kasey, the NMRT has an event for 1st timers:

10:49 Rachel Slough
and so does ACRL

10:49 Rachel Slough
I went to ACRL's last year and thought it was good and I've heard good things about the NMRT event too

10:50 Miriam Rigby
Julie -- I don't think that there is any uniformity about that. I was looking into accessibility and found:

10:50 Miriam Rigby
"We caption our main sessions, e.g. President's Program, Membership Meeting, Council Meetings and others as requested by organizers. The captioning is available on a one-on-one basis when the captioner is not working at sessions mentioned above. "

10:50 Rachel Slough
The link for ACRL is here:

10:50 Miriam Rigby
but I don't know if that really addresses your question

10:52 Rachel Slough
Vivian, I can't speak personally to the book cart event, but I had friends attend last year who said it was a lot of fun.

10:52 Rachel Slough
Does that help?

10:52 Julie
Sometimes the descriptions are limited and reading the handouts helps determine if it really is what one wants to attend

10:52 Kasey Snyder
Thanks so much. The links have been so valuable.

10:52 Miriam Rigby
I agree Julie

10:52 Julie
Please getting more background information makes the event so much more of a learning experience.

10:53 Kasey Snyder
Hey, if anyone is organizing a LOC tour just as a group of us. I am so game. I've never been.

10:53 Rachel Slough
Julie, if there are sessions you are particularly interested in, you might try contacting the speakers.

10:53 Miriam Rigby
Michelle Visel: mvisel (at) seems to be the person who knows about accessibility, so she might be someone to contact as well, about pre-posting of slides

10:54 Julie
Sounds like a plan, Rachel, thanks so much. Ditto...Kasey, I would love to see LOC!

10:54 Julie
Michell Visel...ok, thanks Miriam!

10:54 Rachel Slough
Are there other questions we could answer?

10:55 Vivian Linderman
I'm in for a LOC tour, too!

10:55 Miriam Rigby
We will also be having mini ACRL 101 sessions -- about 20 minutes each, 1 on Sat. morning and 2 on Sunday, for more infor

10:55 Kasey Snyder
If anyone wants to coordinate a LOC tour, find me on facebook and maybe we can put a group together.

10:56 Julie
Is we left early June 29...would that be ok...and would I miss much?

10:56 Miriam Rigby
There's not much going on on the 29th

10:56 Kasey Snyder
Thanks so much everyone. I'll see you at the next chat session. :)

10:57 Vivian Linderman
Great!! Thanks!

10:57 Miriam Rigby
Friday evening is when a lot of social events happen, Sat & Sun are the main days. Unless you have a lot of pre-conferences, or meetings to attend, there's not a lot going on after Monday afternoon

10:57 Miriam Rigby
of before Friday afternoon

10:57 Julie
Thanks to all of you for your time and thoughts. :)

10:58 Kristin
Thank you! Great job, presenters!

10:58 Miriam Rigby
You're welcome! and Thanks!

10:58 Hui-Fen Chang
Thanks indeed!

10:58 Rachel Slough
Have fun! And hope to see you there :)

10:58 Megan Dazey
Thanks Miriam, Hui-Fen and Rachel

10:58 Julie
Where do we go for these notes?

10:58 Megan Dazey
I'll see you there Miriam :)

10:58 Miriam Rigby

10:58 David Free
Thanks for coming all and to the excellent facilitators. Transcript will be on ACRL website this afternoon

10:59 Julie
Nice. Thanks!

10:59 Miriam Rigby
Any last minute questions?

11:00 Miriam Rigby
Bye all!

11:00 Rachel Slough

11:00 Megan Dazey

11:00 Julie