By Jodie Gambill
Thanks to my status as a 2012 Emerging Leader (EL), I was able to attend this year’s Midwinter Meeting. This was my very first ALA conference, and it lived up to my expectations. I came away from it exhausted yet excited to have new projects and ideas in mind.
All Emerging Leaders must come to Midwinter to attend the day-long Emerging Leaders leadership training session on Friday. Kathryn Deiss did a wonderful job of facilitating the training. We also received some ALA Connect training from Jenny Levine. Throughout the day, various ALA representatives would drop in to say hello. A few of them stayed long enough to give us some helpful tips and insight into getting involved in ALA. By far the most useful part of the day was being able to work in our project groups to begin the planning process. Our group will work together virtually for the next 6 months, culminating in a poster session and wrap-up leadership training session at Annual. It was very beneficial to be able to meet my teammates and other ELs in person as we begin our work together.
I was free to attend anything I wanted to for the rest of the conference. Some of my favorite sessions included Susan Cain’s talk on introversion, LITA’s Top Tech Trends discussion, the Drupal4Lib Drupal FAIL Panel, John Green’s talk, the Think Fit @ ALA 5K Fun Run, and the Balancing Books and Babies discussion group.
I received a lot of advice both from friends and from reading blog posts from experienced conference-goers on how to get the most out of the conference. I tried to use as much of it as possible, which I truly think kept my conference experience a positive one. Some of the tips I received and used were:
- Schedule multiple sessions for each time slot just in case you need to switch. My schedule was booked solid, even double- and triple-booked in some slots - I didn’t want to miss anything! In reality, I did not session-hop, but I still felt prepared just in case.
- Be sure to take some breaks and leave time for exhibits. I am an introvert who requires recharging time, so a break here and there definitely kept me going.
- Get all the free food possible. I signed up for several vendor-sponsored meals, which gave me a chance to hear more about their offerings, in addition to saving on my food budget.
- Attend the socials and meet people. It was fun to chat with some folks I only knew virtually before, and to meet new people too. Also, more free food!
- Wear comfortable shoes. They were not kidding when they said there would be tons of walking.
- Say yes. If there is an opportunity to volunteer for a task, committee, etc., do it!
All in all, it was a wonderful conference experience, and I can’t wait for Annual. See you in Anaheim!