Summer is here and at least in Illinois, it’s heating up fast! With June halfway over, we know that ALA Annual is on the horizon. And what says summer better than San Francisco, California? The theme this year is “Transforming libraries, ourselves.” With 25,000 library affiliated folks coming to town, it’s an event you don’t want to miss!

Unfortunately, I’ll be diligently working in Illinois during ALA Annual, but that doesn’t mean I have to miss out on the conversations. If you’re like me and won’t be in San Fransisco, here’s a guide to staying in touch, from a distance.

If you’re looking for a broad overview of the conference:

  1. Get on Twitter. One thing I’ve learned time and time again this past year is that librarians are active on Twitter. Follow the conference Twitter account @alaannual or the general hashtag for the event is #alaac15. Some sessions have specific hashtags, which you can find in the scheduler section of Annual’s website. If you have time to get on early, try to scout out some fellow librarians who will be at ALA Annual. They can be your eyes and ears during the conference.

Note: It’s really hard to actively follow hashtags on Twitter’s general account. I suggest downloading Tweet Deck or use the website Tweet Chat to track the event. I’m partial to Tweet Deck because you can follow multiple hashtags while watching your feed and seeing who is replying to your tweets. It can be a lot of information but a great way to really stay in the loop.

  1. Check out ALA’s other social media platforms. Following #alaac15 on Instagram or ALA’s general account for visuals of the event. ALA also has an active Tumblr and Facebook. See this general handout for all the handles and account links.

If you’re looking to dive a little deeper into ALA Annual:

  1. Look at the ALA Annual highlights to get an idea for what’s happening during the six days of the conference. So much is going on during those six days, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is especially good if you want to look at the big speakers during the conference.
  2. Next, take a look at the ALA Annual program book, which is in PDF form on the web. If you’re just interested in the various sessions, skip part I of the program book and jump to part II.
  3. In part II, the sessions are broken up program content areas (most revolving around the idea of transformation). I suggest looking for sessions either within a content area or searching (love Control F when searching PDFs) to look for keywords of topics you’re interested in.
  4. Once you’ve got a list of interesting sounding sessions, go back to the Scheduler and look up them up. Some sessions have a specific hashtag to follow. I also have been looking up the speakers on Twitter, both for me to follow right now and then during ALA.
  5. When looking on the Scheduler, see if any resources, handouts, or additional links have been posted. You might find access to great materials before the conference even begins!
  6. Put the session time in your calendar so you know when to be more actively checking Twitter and other social media sites.

Hope that helps and here are some of the sessions I’m hoping to virtually check out:

  • DiverseZineties; Promoting Diversity and Self-discovery Through Making Zines with Teens, Saturday, June 27
  • Library of the Future—Learning with the Participatory Library at Cedar Rapids Public Library, Saturday, June 27. This was the public library I went to as an undergrad; their new library is gorgeous. Opportunity does arise from tragedy. 
  • Voices of Youth: Community partnerships for video production, Saturday, June 27
  • From Maker to Make-HER: Leveling the STEM Playing Field for Girls, Sunday, June 28
  • Seeing Through Walls: Library-Based Video Conferencing to Connect Kids with Parents in Jail, Sunday, June 28. I worked for The Director of Outreach Services at Brooklyn Public Library. He’s an amazing librarian and his team is doing incredible things with outreach and engagement at the Brooklyn Public Library.
  • Yik Yak and the Academic Library, Sunday, June 28 (Sunday Ignite Session topic)
  • Naked Truth: connect.create.contribute, Monday, June 29
  • What do LIS Students Really Think About Their Education?, Monday, June 29. These are my peers and I did attend the LIS Symposium on Education [it was awesome!]

I’m excited about ALA Annual and the chance to participate virtually. I’ll be tweeting from @hailthefargoats and hope you’ll join the conversation too!

About Hailley Fargo

Hi, I'm a new professional working as the Student Engagement Librarian at Penn State University, University Park campus. As someone who provides reference to undergraduate students and teach information literacy to primarily freshman, I'm curious about the intersections of the work of YALSA and academic libraries (and how we can collaborate and work together to help our teens). In my spare time, I like to bike, read memoirs, watch TV shows, and consider myself an oatmeal connoisseur.

One Thought on “ALA Annual 2015 — How to Participate From a Distance

  1. Barb Jaindl on June 23, 2015 at 7:35 pm said:

    Thanks for this great posting that encourages me to try some new platforms for professional development! Now I can focus more on the content because of the legwork you provided for a sound strategy to make learning meaningful this way!

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