Although I have been at an ALA Annual conference, I had never before attended an ALA Midwinter. It’s comfortable enough if you’ve been at the larger conferences, because it feels more compact, and yet there’s still so much going on that it’s impossible to choose between sessions. At first glance, you might think many of the meetings are only for committees and roundtables . What is there for a a normal, first-time attendee to enjoy? The beauty of Midwinter lies in the fact that you can attend many of these meetings. Many roundtable, division, or Board meetings are open to the public, and they love seeing new faces. As part of my Emerging Leaders group, I attended the Board meeting for the International Relations Round Table. It’s a great way to see how these divisions work and test out the ones you’re interested in joining.
Not only that, but YALSA had some excellent programming at Midwinter. The Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Feedback Session is not to be missed. Local teens are invited to a lunch with authors, and then tell the BFYA committee their thoughts on the BFYA list! It was great hearing actual teens talk about the books we hope they love and seeing how our perspectives fit together.
I also had the privilege of attending the Youth Media Awards and the Morris and Nonfiction Presentation. Being in the room where it happens was magical, and the crowd was electric. After that, I got to meet some of my favorite debut authors at the Morris presentation! The presentation also comes with a number of free books, so it’s a worthwhile addition to any conference registration.
Overall, Midwinter is a joy to attend because it’s so much smaller and easier to navigate than Annual. If you’re nervous about attending such a big conference, definitely try a Midwinter first!