Conference Packing for Newbies and Veterans

Conference Attendee

This year I have a colleague from my library who will be attending her first national library conference, the AASL National Conference in Louisville.  My first library conference was more than fifteen years ago, and my first national convention was at least ten years ago. As a result, it is hard for me to remember all of the questions I asked or should have asked before attending that meeting. All I can do is share the tips and tricks I have picked up over the years. This topic may seem like a frivolous post, but library journals have been covering annual meeting tips for years. The 1911 Library Journal article about conference dress discusses fashion trends among librarians attending the national convention.

What to Pack for conference?

An essential item, I believe for a big conference is a pair or two of comfortable shoes. Here is an article from “The Strategist” (the online product guide from New York magazine) about the fourteen most comfortable shoes for walking and standing. My current favorite brand is Clarks, after these, I like Easy Spirit and Danskos which are also on this list. The good news is that comfy shoes are in fashion at the moment, and both Crocs and Birkenstocks are easy to find!

I learned the term “Conference Cardigan” about two years ago at a Nashville conference. Whether it is cool or warm outside a cardigan is a must during the summer and fall when organizers turn on the air.  Louisville temperatures in November are historically between 40° for the low and 75° for the high.

Another thing to pack is a backup pair of eyeglasses.  I order cool backup glasses online from Zenni Optical; friends also shop for glasses online at Eye Buy Direct and Warby Parker. This summer, I forgot to pack a water bottle for the ALA Annual Conference in DC. Fortunately, once I hit the expo hall, a kind vendor gave me a nice insulated water bottle. So don’t forget to hydrate and help save the environment by bringing a refillable water bottle.

There are about one hundred and thirty exhibitors at this year’s AASL National conference. Make a list ahead of the vendors you want to visit in the exhibit hall.  Do not forget business cards. I have noticed that some librarians carry address labels that make filling out forms easy. Some other items to remember are charger cables and a portable power bank charger.

Packing List

  • Layered clothing/a cardigan
  • Comfy shoes
  • Cool eyeglasses
  • Water bottle
  • Business cards/address labels
  • Charger cables/power bank
  • Luggage scale (to weigh those books)
  • Prepaid postage boxes (to ship those books)
  • Collapsible bookbag (to carry those books)

Life is a Journey

Most importantly make a point to enjoy the time at the conference and take full advantage of the opportunities. Map out where you will eat, and what sites you might like to see. Research several restaurants near the convention center and reach out to other librarians that you might want to spend time with over a meal. Finally, November 9-16 is peak Fall Foliage season in Lousiville. One of the cultural tours may allow you to see the beauty of mother nature in the area.

For Librarians from Kentucky

Please share your restaurant recommendations and additional tips for others in the comments!

See you in November!

Kentucky International Convention Center
221 South Fourth Street Louisville, KY 40202
Ballroom A-E, North Hall CDE, and Meeting Rooms L001-L030 and M100-M116


Author: Hannah Byrd Little

Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.

Categories: AASL National Conference, Blog Topics, Professional Development

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5 replies

  1. For my favorite breakfast/lunch spot in Louisville, check out The Cafe –

  2. What’s the best type of bag to use? Are wheeled bags allowed? First timer here.

  3. I am so excited about attending my first national conference. Thanks for the tips to help make the most of the conference.

  4. I like to carry a foldable shopping bag or backpack. I try no to carry too much at once.

    I know ALA annual has rules about not bringing rolling bags into the exhibit hall. Not sure about AASL.

    You can make a list of vendors you want to visit at –

    Also here is the program link

  5. These are all great tips! I also always carry blister bandaids, just in case :-)

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