I cannot believe that Annual starts next week!’  If you are like me and my colleagues, you have begun thinking about what to pack and what to do.’  If you are new to Annual, the Local Arrangements Committee thought we’d share some last minute tips to help you:

  • D.C. summer weather is usually hot and humid.’  We have already had many days in the 90s with high humidity, so pack with this in mind.
  • On the flip side, sometimes the conference rooms are chilly due to the A/C so you might want to carry a light sweater or something that can help keep you warm.
  • The following is said so much it has become a joke, but wear comfy shoes.’  You will walk a lot.
  • Try to review the program on-line ahead of time so you don’t feel overwhelmed when handed that big book at registration.’  The program track information found on page 64 can be helpful in narrowing your focus.
  • When you figure out a schedule for yourself, be sure to include time to get from place to place.
  • If there is more than one program you want to attend that is happening at the same time, make note of it in case you find yourself closer to one option than the other.’  Also, don’t be afraid to leave early or arrive late.’  Attendees come and go all the time.
  • Be flexible with said schedule to allow for serendipity and rest.
  • Pack snacks so you don’t have to always buy expensive convention center food.
  • Bring business cards – you can always make them or order free cards from a site like Vista Print – these can come in handy when meeting new people, networking, or providing info in the exhibit hall for drawings.
  • If you are attending with people you know, collaborate on your schedules and split up if there is more than one interesting program – share notes later!
  • The exhibits can be huge and overwhelming – you don’t have to do them all in one day.
  • While in the exhibits, don’t pick up too much – ask vendors to email or mail things to you if possible.’  Your back will thank you later.
  • The exhibit hall has a shipping center so you can ship things home.
  • Cognotes, the daily conference paper, is great for last minutes changes and to give you an idea of what has been happening.’  ALA also publishes advance editions, which can be found on ALA.org.
  • Don’t wear your badge in the street – it can mark you as a tourist and leave you vulnerable.
  • Make wise choices about what you carry every day – you will pick up a lot and your bag(s) will get heavier and heavier.’  Try not to carry the whole program book – just rip out pages you need for that day.
  • Use the free shuttles when you can to save yourself energy and give yourself the chance for random conversations on the bus.’  You never know who you will sit next to!
  • That said, if you need to get somewhere ASAP, walk, cab, or use public transportation if it’ll get you there faster than the shuttle.
  • If you can, attend a program that is out of your own “library world.”‘  Getting to listen in on other types of library talk can expand your world, and maybe you can contribute something that will expend theirs.
  • ALA has an open meeting policy for almost everything.’  (A few things, such as awards-related meetings are closed.)’  Do not be afraid to pop in and listen to the discussion.
  • If you are a conference newbie, there are several programs just for you!’  Try to attend one.’  I vote for YALSA 101, but I am a bit biased.

Not enough tips for you?’  Other sites list additional tips.’  Did we miss something?’  Leave it in the comments!

Stay tuned for last minute D.C. tips!

2 Thoughts on “D.C. Tips – Surviving Annual

  1. One thing people tend to forget is “me” time – schedule some downtime each day so that you have an opportunity to breathe, assess, and recuperate before moving forward. It can be slipping out for coffee/tea (Teagasm is wonderful, and Kramerbooks is a few minutes walk from the convention center), returning to your hotel or just sitting quietly.

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