This is a guest post from Susy Moorhead, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.
You’ve decided to attend the annual conference this year! If you haven’t been before, and even if you have, you must be excited. Attending conference is a lot of fun but it is tiring and it can be overwhelming as well. Here are some tips to help you share what you learned once you get back to your home library.
- Pick up handouts from the programs you attend, note the exhibits that catch your eye and get information from those that you can, and ask for business cards from others in the library world that you want to start a network with. Building your professional network is one of the best opportunities of conference. Great ideas come from networking with your colleagues on a national level.
- Know that the ALA conference website is your friend. After conference, and sometimes before, you will be able to access slideshows from programs, people who present at programs, and an extensive vendor list.
- Be aware that there is no way you can take everything in that interests you at Annual. There will be some things that really excite you and those are the ones you should focus on. If it doesn’t really excite you it will be hard to implement when you get back home. Your excitement will be contagious to your colleagues. That said, if there is a colleague or friend who really wanted to attend but couldn’t, it can’t hurt to pick up an ARC specifically for him or grab an extra handout for her.
- Be ready to fall back in love. One thing I always take back to my library from any conference I attend is a sense of rejuvenation and renewal. I always regain excitement for what I do and I get a greater sense of the importance of libraries, librarianship, and library support positions in the greater world. Just bringing that invigorating feeling back is a wonderful result of attending a national conference.
- Once you get home be sure to write up a summary of what you did at Annual. You can share it with your supervisors to justify the time away from the library and to justify the funding that you receive to attend. It will also help to support conference requests you make in the future.
- Share what you learned with your colleagues in your library system or if you are a solo librarian with your regional or statewide colleagues. You will inevitably find others who share your passion in implementing what your learned. And you may find others that you didn’t know shared your interests!
- Consider writing something up for a regional or statewide organization publication or website. Tweet, Facebook, or get the word out on other social media platforms – you will probably find partners outside of the library too. If you blog, start blogging soon after you get home before you forget things or lose your notes. If you don’t blog yet, doing a guest post at a blog you love (cough – YALSA has two) about a conference session is a great way to start!
- Know that seeing results of taking action won’t happen immediately. A lot of the programs and vendor wares you will see are the “future of libraries.” Work towards creating similar programs or offering similar services when you get back to your library. Put the seeds in to place and then work them in to your busy summers (and autumns!).
Have fun, and see you in a program or on the exhibit floor!