The AALL Annual Meeting and Conference is just around the corner. This is my second time to attend AALL, but I have been to many other conferences both in and outside of the library world. Below are some of my tips to consider when planning your conference trip. Many of these ideas were recommended to me by seasoned conference veterans and I have found that they work. You can find more annual conference tips and suggestions through the AALL Annual Meeting and Conference “Maximize your Annual Meeting Experience” page.
Business Cards, Business Cards, and more Business Cards
This is a pretty obvious one-don’t forget your business cards. If you are a newer law librarian or don’t have cards you can have some affordably printed through a number of online vendors. To keep all the cards you receive in order and to remember who goes with which card, write a little note about the person on your card to help you remember them and what you talked about. The notes on my saved cards say things like “equestrian law”, “red shoes”, and “legal research certificate.”
Better yet, if you have a smart phone there are a number of contact sharing apps such as Bump that allow you share the information electronically with other smart phone users.
My Conference Planner
AALL has a tool and app to help you keep your conference schedule straight, My Conference Planner. You can see all the events side by side, who is attending, and location information for every scheduled AALL event. You can select the events you want to attend and see your anticipated schedule in an easy to view format.
Of course I can not write about conference planning on the RIPS-SIS blog without mentioning some of the fantastic educational programming the Program Planning Committee has put together this year. RIPS-SIS is offering programs on Medical Marijuana, creating Research Guides, creating tutorials, and competencies for solo practitioners.
Try Something New
It is important to attend educational programming that will help you in your current position and support your library. However I recommend attending at least one program completely outside of your job description to help you understand what your colleagues in other departments or libraries are doing. Attending a session that will help prepare you for that next promotion is also a good idea. I don’t know much about cataloging and technical services outside of what I learned in library school, so I plan on attending one of TS-SIS’s programs and one of OB-SIS’s programs this year.
Map out your vendors in advance using the vendor list in the program (also available here) and have questions prepared to maximize your time with them. This is not something I did last year, and I wish I had. This year I am sticking to a handful of vendors whose products we have recently acquired. I am going to ask about scheduling trainings and will try to pick up a few pointers on using their products. Aside from the vendors you feel you need to talk to, choose a few that you have never heard of and learn about their product. You never know when that information will be useful to you down the road or what products might be perfect for your library that you were unaware of before the conference.
Katy Stein offers more detailed advice about meeting vendors in “Navigating the Exhibitor’s Hall: A User’s Guide for Beginners” that is a must read for new attendees.
A little fun…
Conferences are a time for learning and networking, but they are also fun and a great opportunity to explore someplace new. If in all of your planning you find you will have some free time or find a time slot when none of the programming peaks your interest, take some time to sightsee. This is my first trip to Boston. I don’t have any specific recommendations other than there are so many historical landmarks to visit I am not sure how I will narrow it down. The AALL Local Arrangements committee has recommendations available on the HUB-BUB and will have a booth at the meeting itself. I used the LAC booth several times in Philadelphia, and they never steered me wrong.
Do you have any tips for our readers? Please share your own tips for a successful conference in the comments section.