by Sherri Vokey
ALA Annual was all about firsts: my first ALA conference, first trip to Chicago, and first opportunity to participate in associated activities and schmoozing as a new, and new-to-the U.S. librarian. I headed to Chicago with a vague idea of what I thought it might entail, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer enormity of it all. In hindsight, I realize why so many of my colleagues were discussing ‘comfortable shoes’ and ‘lightweight but roomy backpacks’ in the weeks leading up to the conference!
One lesson learned pretty quickly is that planning is crucial to surviving Annual. I had little sense for how distributed the sessions and hotels were, and missed out on some interesting presentations due to my lack of preparation. However, what I will remember most about ALA 2005 are the people I met who I had previously only ever exchanged emails with, chatted with via IM, or read via their blogs. Some of the more valuable conversations, exchange of ideas, fun and inspiration at ALA2005 came from informal interactions with these folks. It was a great time!