I was only able to spend about five hours at my very first ALA conference, but at the very least, I got the flavor of it.’ ‘  Here, somewhat belatedly at this point, I will tell you how I spent my time there and some of my thoughts about going to the next one.

1. The Exhibit Hall
The Exhibit Hall is really big.’  In general, I find any place that is huge and full of displays and booths and flashing lights and people pretty daunting.’  I surprised myself at Midwinter by being less intimidated by the Exhibit Hall and more due to time, simply unable to see it all.’  I was, of course, drawn to the books, and excited about the free ones.’  There seemed to be two ways of going about picking up Advanced Reader Copies: grab everything that is available, or, take nothing, there are just too many. The latter of which may have been a manifestation of Sunday exhaustion. I attempted to choose the middle way and collected about five ARC’s, mostly things I thought my students would like.’  I would have liked to spend more time and gather a few more ARC’s, but I don’t think I would have had the stamina, or the arm strength, to bring home several bags worth, like I heard some of you did.

Next time: I will just visit the things that interest me and try not to stress about getting to see it all.’  I’ll bring one tote dedicated to the collection of ARC’s and focus on books I can bring back to my teens.

2. Best Books for Young Adults Teen Session
This was probably the most awesome part of my day.’  Local teens, which I think extended throughout New England to some degree, spoke about their opinions of the books that were nominated for the Best Books for Young Adults list.’  The moderator would announce a page of books, and the teens lined up to give their opinions on books from that page.’  Plot summary was to be avoided in favor of saying why they liked it or why they didn’t. The sound system wasn’t working too well, or maybe we just had a bunch of quiet teens, but even so, I thought their comments were lively, and frequently hilarious.
I participated in the liveblogging of this session with other YALSA bloggers.’  This was a ton of fun because it made me feel really connected- to the moment, to the teens’ commentary, to YALSA as a community.’  If you missed this session, you can check out the liveblog here.

Next time: Not to be missed!

3. UnCommons- School Librarian Meetup
Something I didn’t know until right before I went to the conference, is that there was an area set up for networking and UnConference activities- where people present things on the fly and share ideas.’  I only had a few minutes before the blogger meeting, but I saw the beginning of a discussion on school libraries and helping teens leave a positive or “academic” digital footprint.’  Joyce Valenza began this discussion by showing some Wizard of Oz inspired videos that presented information needs in song.’  While I am not currently working in a high school, I may one day, and I do think it is important that we give teens room to exist online instead of telling them they must be invisible.’  Having a positive digital footprint that is creative and academic couldn’t hurt either.’  There are so many ways for teens, and anyone, to tell their stories online.’  Presenting the examples you choose to make public is becoming a part of the way we think of resumes and portfolios already. There is much to unpack even from just ten minutes of conversation. But that’s a horse of a different color.’  Or at least a different blog post.

Next time: I am’  going to spend more of my conference time visiting the UnCommons.’  Participating in conversations about different topics in librarianship is great for networking and getting inspired.

4. YALSA Blog Meeting
How could I miss the blog meeting? As a new ALA and YALSA member I feel really supported by this community.’  It was fun and informative to put some faces with names.’  We talked about how to make the blog a better place and opened some doors for increased community and collaboration.’  It was simultaneously low key and productive.’  And now I know how to use WordPress better!

Next time: So long as I’m blogging, I’ll want to be at the blog meeting.’  Probably not a bad thing for any YALSA member, or anyone curious to stop by either.

5. Youth Media Awards, or’  Snowed In Liveblogging
The weather was seriously snowy early Martin Luther King morning. I tried to get back to the convention center, I really did.’  But, alas, I had to attend from my friends’ kitchen in Medford.’  I thought this was going to be a major letdown, and was especially concerned when the laptop I was borrowing didn’t have windows media player to watch the webcast.’  But no, I was saved by the YALSA liveblog.’  I was able to follow along as the awards were announced and comment as well.’  If you’d like to revisit the conversation, you can find it here.

Next time: I still really want to go to the Youth Media Awards in person, but if I continue to have a hard time getting to conferences, as I have the last few years, I know now, there will be another way to participate.

To sum up: I love Twitter.’  I don’t love snow when it interferes with my plans. In addition to the above, I learned that conferences are better with friends.’  So, next time I will try to make more plans to meet up with people. This could involve eating food that is not found in the middle of the conference hall.’  As for all of the things I missed, I hope that my next conference experience will involve more attendance on my part.

How was your Midwinter Conference?

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