I hopped onto a plane headed to Louisville in 2019 to attend my very first AASL National Conference and had no idea what to expect. Little did I know that the experience would forever change my life both professionally and personally. I knew very few people but was determined to change that, and introduced myself to everyone I saw who I followed on social media. I also struck up conversations with fellow school librarians while standing in line to meet authors. I attended every general session, event, exhibit, and concurrent session I was able to attend, taking copious notes and passing out my business card to anyone who would take it.
Fast forward to 2023, and I am now a conference co-chair, getting a behind-the-scenes peek into the magic that is an AASL National Conference, and I am counting down the days in which I can see everyone again in Tampa. I’ve been thinking a lot about how others might maximize an AASL National your Cconference experience and have created a list of my favorite tips forto living your best life at #AASL23.
- Bring comfortable shoes and your favorite librarian t-shirts. Comfort is key. There’s no need to worry about impressing everyone with a fashion show.
- Post about the conference using the hashtag #AASL23. Follow the hashtag on social media and you will find new school librarians to follow. This is an excellent way to build your professional learning network.
- Visit all of the vendors in the exhibit hall. Don’t skip a single one! Strike up conversations and network. Don’t forget to pick up some swag.
- Bring business cards to exchange with other school librarians. It’s a way to introduce yourself and keep track of who you have met at the conference.
- Pack the following: bandaids, medicine for common ailments, a backup cell phone battery charger, snacks, reusable water bottle, notebook, and backpack.
- If you recognize someone from social media, introduce yourself!
- The Poster Sessions and Idea Lab presentations are an easy way to collect a variety of fresh ideas all in one place. Stop by to hear the presentations, and don’t forget to ask questions.
- Do NOT miss a general session. Trust me on this.
- Thursday, October 19th from 3:30-5:00 PM: Nikkolas Smith
- Friday, October 20th from 8:00-9:00 AM: Dr. Heather Harding, Cameron Samuels, and Karen Smith
- Saturday, October 21st from 7:30 AM-8:30 AM: Nic Stone
- Saturday, October 21st from 4:00-5:30 PM: We Need Diverse Books Panel with authors Samira Ahmed, Phil Bildner, Tracey Baptiste, and Cornelius Minor
- Take breaks. It is okay to go back to your hotel room every now and then to decompress. I love to talk and meet new people, but I always make sure to take breaks in between sessions. It is okay to take a breather.
Lastly, take as many pictures as possible to commemorate the conference.
Louisiana school librarians at AASL21
You might even consider blogging about your conference experience for AASL’s Knowledge Quest. The AASL National Conference only happens every two years, so enjoy every second in Tampa. I hope to see you there!
~~Amanda Jones is the Conference Committee Co-Chair for the 2023 AASL National Conference.
Author: National Conference Committee Chairs
Categories: AASL National Conference