The following tips were compiled by The Seattle Public Library.
- Remember to carry your government-issued ID to the convention center to get your badge and program booklet.
- You need your badge to enter the exhibits hall and other conference events.
Your Bag or Backpack
- While you are in the convention center, it is a good idea to have a backpack or a strong tote bag. The following items are a must for any convention attendee:
- Water bottle
- Small umbrella
- Cell phone
- Tablet or iPad or small notebook
- Business cards
- ID, credit card, some cash, and conference badge
- YALSA Recommendation: Leave your handbag at home. If you are using a backpack or tote, your handbag will be extra weight
- Get your technology in order (how to use the Wi-Fi environment, hashtags, collecting resources that are provided online, etc.) prior to actually being in the audience.
- Make sure your phone, tablet and other technology are fully charged and bring a backup power source if you have one.
- Remember: The conference app is the most reliable source of information.
- Be sure to remove your badge as you move about in the city and out of the convention areas.
- Once you get to your hotel, get a hotel business card and put it in your wallet. Who knows when your late night fun might find you without shuttle service and you need a taxi home.
- Study the conference program that is organized by “tracks” and choose a couple of topics that are not in your desired career track and you may be pleasantly surprised by what you may learn.
- Be selective. Pick a couple of things you want to learn about, and take the time to identify and make plans to get to sessions that will help you do that—if you try to taste everything, you’ll spend all of your time milling around, being frustrated.
- Use conference as a chance to push your horizons and try new things, go to at least one program that is about something you don’t know anything about. You may be surprised by what you discover.
- Connect ahead of time with your colleagues who are also attending, and coordinate workshop attendance. You won’t be able to go to everything you want, but this way you can increase your eyes and ears.
- Pick two seminars that touch on areas that are of interest but are not necessarily reflective of work you are currently doing to expose you to other areas of the work.
- Have at least two sessions in mind for every time slot. That way, if you go to one session and the room is overflowing or the topic isn’t what you thought it would be, you can spend your time productively by heading to your second choice.
- Keep a running list of ideas you can bring back and share with staff—it can be very energizing to come back to your unit with a new idea to try right away, however small.
- Write your report while you are at the conference… don’t wait until you get back because you’ll forget things and you won’t have nearly as much time as you think you’ll have.
- Go to the exhibits and look at some of the products you own. Ask vendors for tips and tricks using it. They know a lot more about their product than you do.
- Go to the exhibits and look at new stuff that you do not have. If it’s a great product, come back and tell colleagues about it.
- Pre-book in some socializing time (invite people you just met to do the exhibits with you) and don’t try to see the exhibits in one fell swoop.
- If you collect a lot of stuff from vendors, mail them from the conference shipping center (location TBD) so you don’t have to carry them around. And do it before the end so you can avoid the lines. (You may also be able to mail them from your hotel, but the caution about waiting until the last minute still applies.)
- Collect contacts. Don’t be shy to ask for business cards (and take a lot of your cards and have them ready to hand out) because those people have the potential to become your very close friends and supporters as you tackle assignments at home.
- Don’t be afraid to go up to people you don’t know and strike up a conversation. 99% of the time people are friendly and interested in meeting others. It can be intimidating to do this but you’ll probably learn something you didn’t expect to.
- Do your research before you go. If you work in a specific area or want to work in a specific area, find out what systems or individuals are doing good work in the area then be on the lookout for those systems or individuals at presentations or as you make your way around the conference.
- Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers. You’ll be doing a lot of walking—across a very large exhibit hall, from convention center to hotel and back again and again, as well as all over the host city. Convention centers and hotels are notorious for hot and cold spots so layers are essential.
- Carry a water bottle. You can’t always count on an even distribution off amenities across the conference site.
Enjoy the City
- Get out and be a tourist; a conference site was chosen just as much for the facilities as it was for the host city and its amenities.
- Have fun!
- Plan a little time to explore the city and its libraries.
- Plan to meet up with colleagues and friends outside of conference to hang out and relax from a full day of programs and exhibits.
- Go on all the tours (especially if they are free).
Make It Extraordinary!
Want to make this your best conference ever? Join us for our new event, Make It Extraordinary! Guest speaker Kari Chapin will inspire and motivate you with her tangible tips to maximize your experience at PLA 2016. Bring your “Make It Extraordinary” notebook (provided at registration) and join us to learn how to optimize your time at PLA 2016, adapt ideas you’ll learn at conference to fit your circumstances, and unleash your creativity and imagination. More »
Bonus Tips from Past Attendees
“Smile, say hello and sit next to people you don’t know in programs, luncheons, and author events. I made some of my best library friends from all over the country doing this. In fact, I still keep in touch and ask them for advice.”
– Sara Dallas, director of the Southern Adirondack Library System in N.Y.,
and member of the PLA 2016 Conference Program Subcommittee
“Take time to explore the city—visit one of our museums, take in some music, catch a play, or take a quick trip to the mountains.”
– Pam Sandlian Smith, director at Anythink Libraries in Thornton, Colo.,
and chair of the PLA 2016 Conference Program Subcommittee