After attending our first national conference in 2000, Liz Deskins and I wrote the article, “Liz and Deb’s Trip to ALA’s Annual Conference Gentle Tips for Future Attendees…” Fifteen years later many of our tips still work and just a few needed a little updating. Here are some of our best recommendations along with a few updates.
Before you travel:
- Sign up early to take advantage of discounted registration rates.
- When registering, check that you want to have your contact information shared with exhibitors. You may be invited to special events!
- Invite a principal, curriculum coordinator, or superintendent from your district to attend with a free conference registration with your paid registration.
- Save more money by sharing rides and rooms.
- Use the online schedule planner to make sure you don’t miss any special sessions or events.
- Before leaving home, contact members of your PLN and plan to meet face-to-face.
- Do a little research before coming to Columbus. Are there any restaurants, landmarks, or special locations you want to visit while you are in town? Columbus is noted for superb libraries, excellent ice cream, great dining and wonderful nightlife.
- The convention center is close to great neighborhoods like German Village and The Short North. It is also the home of COSI, the Thurber House, the Columbus Zoo, The Buckeyes and a number of sports teams. Easton is a unique shopping destination that is a short drive away.
- Check the weather forecast before packing, but pack as light as possible. Include two pairs of comfortable walking shoes to avoid blisters. Pack for at least one evening out on the town. Consider packing your essentials in a smaller suitcase and putting the small suitcase in a larger case in order to bring home goodies.
- If needed, book transportation to and from your hotel in advance.
- Have an organization plan for traveling. Designate a pocket or folder for boarding passes, transportation information/vouchers, hotel information and registration papers. Tuck business cards in an easy access pocket. Pick a spot to tuck any receipts.
- Make a note of registration times and locations before you leave home.
Network, Network, Network!
- It isn’t too early to reach out to people in your PLN and arrange to meet in Columbus. Make plans for meals and events.
- Get social on social media. Tweet, share pictures, and follow others.
- Say hello. Read name tags. Invite others to join you at your table.
- Need to take a cab or don’t want to walk alone? Ask around for someone to share a ride or to walk with you.
- Carry business cards. Take a moment to label any business cards you receive to simplify following up with new contacts.
- Are you torn between two or more sessions in one time slot, divide and conquer. Offer to take notes for a friend and ask them to do the same for you.
- Volunteer to volunteer!
- Take time to process new ideas and concepts by discussing them with your roommates or other cohorts. Let them share their findings too.
- Are some of your friends unable to attend? Plan a post conference sharing session or use social media to allow them to attend virtually. Maybe this will help them build a case to attend AASL 2017!
- The networking starts NOW. If you have your own AASL tips, please post comments and share YOUR ideas!
Where? What? How? Who?
- Ask the hotel concierge, bellboy or front desk for directions, entertainment ideas and dining tips.
- Have questions? Visit the information desks. Watch for volunteers and conference committee members. We are all happy to help you out!
- Have blisters? Visit the first aide station at the conference center or your front desk will probably be able to help you.
- Save time and money each morning by keeping juice and breakfast treats like doughnuts, bagels or muffins in your room. Ice buckets can be used to chill a couple of juice containers each night. Call ahead to see if the hotel provides a mini fridge for your use.
- If you need to rest, rest.
YES! Just do it! Do attend AASL 2015. It is an amazing opportunity to network with professionals from across the country, to connect with amazing authors, to learn about the newest thinking and practices that work from fellow practitioners, to meet with exhibitors, and to be inspired by creative and cutting edge thinkers.