Pam Spencer Holley – YALSA President – sent out an email today with info. for first time conference attendees. I thought it was great and would definitely be worth posting here for blog readers. Pam wrote:

Because I’ve received some questions about what a first-time attendee to Midwinter should do, once their committee meeting has ended, it seemed appropriate to send my response to several lists. And, for those of you who’ve attended many Midwinters, if I’ve missed anything, please add your comments to the list. And print out this message so you’ll have it handy to bring with you to Midwinter.

Midwinter is known as the “working” conference so there aren’t the wide range of programs that are available at Annual; though that has taken a slight change in recent years as more activities seem to be popping up. The ALA website will list some of these activities, as does the recent copy of American Libraries.

Upon Arriving – Depending upon your timing, you have two things to do—check in to your hotel and pick up your badge and conference info [if you registered in advance, some of that is sent to you, but you still need to pick up your badge holder and conference program] And wear that badge at all times, and not around your waist! Your name needs to be seen, so don’t cover it up.

And while you’re in the Conference Registration area, look for the information booth about Annual in New Orleans. You can register for Annual right then — and be sure to think about adding YALSA’s Preconference “Reading with Your Ears” to your Annual activities. This Preconference looks fabulous and is one that none of you will want to miss.

Friday night – Head to the Convention Center about 5:15pm for the annual Ribbon Cutting Ceremony that opens the Exhibits. Then from 5:30 to 7:30pm visit the Exhibits where exhibitors host a reception featuring food and lots of giveaways from the booths.

Saturday – Most of you will have your meeting at All-Committee which takes place at the Marriott Rivercenter, Salon E from 9:30am to 12:30pm. NOTE: This is correct time and is a slight change from what’s been in program. There is an earlier meeting in the same spot for Committee Chairs that begins at 8am.

YALSA policy is for all meetings to be open meetings; the only exceptions are the three award committees: Printz, Edwards and Alex. You are welcome to attend any of the other committees that meet at a time other than All-Committee. That information is available on the YALSA website.

Saturday afternoon you may want to visit some of the selection committee meetings:

  • Best Books for Young Adults meets from 1:30 to 5:30pm in 214A in Convention Center
  • Quick Picks meets at the same time in the St. Anthony Hotel, Jefferson Manor
  • Popular Paperbacks meets from 1:30 to 3:30pm in Marriott Plaza San Antonio,Conference Center B.
  • Selected Audiobooks meets from 1:30 to 6pm in the St. Anthony Hotel, Midland
  • Selected Videos/DVDs meets from 1:30 to 5:30pm in the Hyatt, Sequin.

In addition, the YALSA Board meets on Saturday afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30pm in the Convention Center, Room 003A. Attending YALSA Board meetings is a good way to observe the governance of your division.

Sunday – This is a good time to visit the Exhibits again, now that the reception is over. In the afternoon, there are several joint youth committee meetings that you might want to attend:

  • AASL/ALSC/YALSA Joint Legislation Committee meets from 1:30 to 3:30 pm in Hilton, El Mirador West
  • AASL/ALSC/YALSA Joint Intellectual Freedom Committee meets from 4 – 6pm in
    Hilton, El Mirador West
  • And, for the first time, the YALSA Great Graphic Novel Committee meets from 1:30 to 6pm at the St. Anthony Hotel/Lafitte
  • The YALSA Board also meets, in their same room, from 1:30 to 5pm.
  • Or you could listen to the teens provide their comments to the BBYA Committee from 1:30 to 3:30 in the Convention Center, Room 214 B/C

Monday – This day begins with a bang at the eagerly anticipated Youth Media Awards Press Conference. YALSA announces its ’06 Printz, Edwards and Alex winners. Get there early as the seats fill up, and this year the program begins at 8am!! Head to the Convention Center, Ballroom C [where Council meets]

Exhibits close today, and publishers often mark their books for half price, so you might want to go “shopping.” ALA also sponsors the ALA Store which has lots of intriguing goodies to buy, as well as professional materials such as books and posters. I’d advise you to shop early at the ALA Store as sometimes the supplies of favorite items run low. Be sure to look for YALSA’s Sizzling Summer Reading Programs for Young Adults, 2nd ed., which was edited by YALSA’s own, Katharine Kan.

The YALSA Board also meets, in their same room, from 10:30am to 12:30pm

And end your conference at the Joint Youth Division Membership Reception, held from 6 to 7:30pm, at the Menger Hotel, Ballroom A/B. YALSA hosts the reception this year, which is free for all attendees, though it is a cash bar. This is a great way to end your conference, mingle with people you’ve met, introduce yourself to folks you didn’t meet and wind down from an exciting time.

Questions. Contact me – pamsholley at – or your committee chair. And if you see me at conference, please come up and introduce yourself,


I wish that someone had outlined activities like that for me the first time I went to conference. It can be a little overwhelming. Now I know that it’s OK to go up to people and start talking. One of the great things I’ve discovered is now there are lots of familiar names that I know from online conversation. When I see someone I know only from a listserv or other form of electronic correspondence it’s always great to go up and say hello.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

2 Thoughts on “Midwinter First Timer Conference Ideas

  1. Kat Kan [Visitor] on January 11, 2006 at 4:22 pm said:

    I had commented originally to Pam’s post on YALSA-L, but I’ll repeat it (not verbatim) here. Please take the time to talk with the Exhibitors, don’t just grab the goodies and go. My focus is books, so I talk with the editors and other people at the publisher booths. They truly value our opinions and views about their books and about YA publishing in general. Sometimes they have simple surveys to complete; I’ve done those and once in a while I receive a very nice surprise in the mail after a conference. I have found that Midwinter is a good time to talk – things aren’t as frantic as they can be at Annual. And on a personal note, you never know when all the “schmoozing” (or networking) might pay off for you. I attended Midwinter for a number of years when my library helped cover part of my costs, and I spent a lot of time in Exhibits. Publishers had got to know me, and I started receiving ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) of certain titles because the editors valued my opinion. And later, after my husband’s career change meant my leaving public service in a library behind, those publisher connections helped me re-make myself, and I started to get some fascinating freelance writing opportunities. At the very least, when you stop to chat even just a little bit with an exhibitor, you’re helping him/her feel that coming to Midwinter is worthwhile, and if a publisher asks for your opinion, you may be helping to make a difference in what gets published or how it gets publicized. One never knows …

  2. Chrissie Anderson Peters [Visitor] on January 17, 2006 at 9:43 am said:

    I had also originally posted to this question via the YALSA-L list, but wanted to follow up here:

    Midwinters is also a great time to check out some of the other ALA divisions and round tables. Anyone who is new to ALA, or librarianship, in general, is more than welcome to join the New Members Round Table (NMRT) members and friends for a Social to be held at the Hard Rock Cafe on Saturday evening. There will be limited appetizers, but unlimited fun! We will meet at the Hard Rock Cafe at 5:30 p.m. and the fun goes until at least 8:30 p.m. Go inside, look for signs indicating where we will be, and come on over!

    Even if you are not currently a member of NMRT, we invite you to come check us out, bring some friends, and just get to know us while having some fun and networking with others who are new to ALA and/or Librarianship!

    For more details, email me at — I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have. And please, feel free to share this information with others who may be interested!

    Chrissie Anderson Peters, Chair
    NMRT Midwinter Social Activities Committee

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