Going to the Annual Conference in Washington, DC? Don’t forget to use the Conference App!

For the past two years, I have been YALSA’s rep on the ALA Conference Committee.  When I first was assigned this position, I was thinking we would be planning the far future Conferences, picking the cities we would have our conferences in.  My imagination ran wild about what we would be doing as a committee.  In reality, I was assigned the role as a Division Rep, which means not only do I represent YALSA, I represent, along with a few other Division Reps, the ALA Divisions.  While I’ve been at one meeting where we were told that 2039 Annual Conference would be in Washington DC and I know I’ll be retired when this conference comes to pass, it wasn’t what I originally thought it was going to be.  It’s been much more fun.

One of the primary functions we have on the committee is to help set up the schedule for the Annual conference.  Working with the ALA Conference Staff all the committee members as a group work our way through all the selected meetings and put them in their time slots, while the ALA Conference Staff pick the rooms these meetings will fit into.  Juggling all the various nonmoving components that make up the conference, Council meetings, Board meetings, and major sponsored programs etc.   Once we have decided where all the programs fit into the schedule, the ALA Staff load full schedule onto the scheduling app and the various websites, and this is what I’m here to talk about.

Like some attendees, I have been using the App to schedule my conferences for a few conferences now, every time I open the app to get new content I can see the past conference I’ve been to.  And like many of you, I have struggled when the app crashes. I have cursed the heavens in rage when it fails to open and I’m trying to catch the shuttle to the conference center or to a hotel to get to a meeting.  The ALA Staff knows we have these issues and after each conference, they tweak it to get the bugs out.  So, we all must be a little patient as it continues to grow, and they continue to work out the bugs.  I love that I have everything I need for the conference on my phone.  We just need to think of ourselves at the beta testers of the app for the next generation of librarians.  And having the full schedule on your phone saves you from carrying it around and taking up valuable space in our soon to be overflowing tote bags!

So, if you’ll be attending Annual in Washington DC next week.  Don’t forget to download the app, use it to find all the YALSA activities.   But most importantly, when you go to a session after you attend that session, embedded inside the program details in the app is an evaluation form.  This was a new feature that was added a few conferences ago but is still being underused.  Using this feature in the app saves on paper and on time.  The survey/evaluation form only becomes active after the session has ended, so you have time give your feedback about the presenter, the room, the time or any other information you want to share. It gives ALA Conference Staff valuable information about the app and the programs and attendance.  This information is then shared back to YALSA as well as the other divisions and roundtables.  For the YALSA Board and YALSA Staff this information helps to highlight trends, hot topics as well as member concerns about YALSA programs.

The app has a ton of other features that have come in handy.  The Floor Maps is one I’ve used trying to find a room in the conference center and when I’ve been wondering the halls of hotels looking for a meeting room. The app is a great way to see all the social media buzz happening at conference too. And if you post, you might even see your comments in the feed.

Being on the ALA Conference committee I know that this resource isn’t being used as much as it could be.  For those of you who have used it in the past and have thrown in the towel.  I’d say give another it another try.  Let me assure you it is getting better and as time goes by it will be even better.  For first time attendee, you can find the ALA Mobile Conference App in your favorite App Store.  When you’re posting on social media don’t forget to tag @YALSA and use the #alaac19.

I hope to see you at the conference!

Franklin Escobedo
YALSA Secretary, 2017-2019
Twitter @adrithian