When I go to exhibit halls I always have a plan. I have been to Gen-Con with my husband enough to know how to handle a exhibit hall (but I haven’t been to ALA yet-I’m working my way there)

First you look through all the mailings and coupon books for the words “free ____” and you fill out those first. Organize them by booth number, and hit those on the first night. Do not stop to look at any interesting displays on the way or you may miss the freebies. Try to only go for something that you really want or need, and save drawings for later.

Then after you have those first elusive items start in a corner and browse your way around. Always fill out the addresses of places you want during lunch or before sessions begin so that in the exhibit hall you can see more. One librarian once told me to make address labels with my name address and email so that I can fill out entry forms with one stick.

When you are walking around browse as if you aren’t going to return to these booths again. Feel free to pass up any not in your specialty area, but also new librarians and students can learn many things by asking questions of the exhibitors, because they want to sell you things, so they will talk as long as you listen.

Feel free to break the hall into sections that you visit between sessions. I normally look at the exhibitor and pick a few I don’t want to miss no matter what, so I can browse those aisles first. They give you a paper map of the hall in your packets normally, and I think its perfectly appropriate to write notes on it about where you went.

Lastly after I have been through the hall once I will often walk through the aisles at various times to see if I missed anything the first time due to crowds or lack of staff. The most important thing I think is to remember that you are their customers, and that you should take the time to really ask questions you have, especially for students who do not have Reps.

Here are some tidbits I picked up at PLA’s exhibit hall opening

Ulysses Moore The Door to Time MP3-CD
The Girl from Charnelle by K. L. Cook
Mockingbird A portrait of Haper Lee by Charles J. Shields

Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
And You Know You Should be Glad by Bob Greene
Teen Ink January, February, March 2006, Info on their new book series and Subscription information
Information about Playway, but I didn’t get a chance to listen at the booth
Thomas Klise/Crimson Multimedia Catalog with a free CD Cleaner attached
New release handouts from Recorded Books
Postcard for Digipalooza 2006 (Celebrate Digital Media in libraries)

Flyer about Download Stations at Boston Public Library
A nice packet of information about downloadable media from OverDrive
A NetLibrary Authentication Server Letter
Information about Azuradisc “Disc Care & Repair”
Target and Reading is Fundamental- Summer Reading is out of this world packet and t-shirt
FAFSA form
JFJ Disc Repair pamphlet

Youth Librarian News Volume 3 issue 1
Library Journal
Learning Games & Literacy Kits Brochure from Learning Props
Amazon.com for Libraries pamphlet
AARP Internet Resources on Aging Handouts including info on AgeLine
Online Public Access Catalog- Lookup Feature handout from INGRAM
Issues of Publishers Quality Library Service that has review for every book in catalog in the catalog. They sell the “season’s finest titles”

A pen
DC Comics Graphic Novel Catalog
Voya Volume 28 Number 6
Video Librarian Volume 21 No. 2
Dewey Decimal posters
Search modifier poster from Google and a epilepsy inducing pin (but now I don’t’ have to worry about identify myself when I’m meeting librarians from online)
A folder of information about the Online Degree from Syracuse University

And lastly
an “Ogre Achiever” poster from Walden Media

This may seem like a lot, but I refused many items, and didn’t finish going through the entire first floor.

I focused on gaining information about downloadable media, and asked many relevant exhibitors about a certain topic I’m interested in…gaming.

I was able to learn from many of the exhibitors many things I wondered about when studying in my MLS classes. I have always enjoyed attending the exhibits, because there are so many people normally the exhibitors let you make the first move to stop at their booth, although I saw some tricks tonight. One booth had a sheet of real money they were letting people cut money off. Nothing to do with the program but people were stopping. I also saw many blinking areas, TV displays, comfortable enticing chairs, Interactive demos on Kiosks, and free galleys. All in the interest of getting people in the booths.
I am proud of myself for getting so little, my first national conference I had to move my clothes to a bag that was handed out for free, because I filled my suitcase with galleys and Advanced readers copies. I learned my lesson in two ways.

1 I came with room in my suitcase, and anticipation of taking more bags home
2 I brought my collapsible rolling cart to bring my things back to my hotel without hurting my back, or shoulder.

Not that I can hold my promise, but I’ll try and synthesize what I learned about the audio books for the readers after PLA.

Good night and See you tomorrow

Jami Schwarzwalder

About Jami Schwarzwalder

Currently a teen librarian with the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA.She is passionate about technology, making, and learning. See what I'm up to at https://about.me/jamischwarzwalder

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