Resources for First-Time Attendees


Tips from the super helpful New Members Round Table (NMRT)


The Basics

Wear your nametag to meetings, social events, and on the conference shuttles but not on the street. Bring business cards with you. Carry snacks and drinks.

Use the maps provided in the conference program to locate conference hotels and to navigate the convention center and exhibit floor.

Take advantage of the free conference shuttles to travel between events.

Explore your interests and learn something new. Take notes during or just after sessions while the content is still fresh in your mind.

Meet people. Avoid listening to music, texting, etc., when you could be networking.

For last-minute schedule changes and social events check Cognotes, the daily conference newspaper; the scheduler at; and/or twitter (#alaac16).


Design Your Conference

Use the program scheduler to design your own conference experience: Find the programs, poster sessions, discussion groups, speaker series, parties, etc. that match your interests and expertise, and/or topics key to your position responsibilities and organization’s initiatives.

Schedule your days to fit the time and place of events, including travel time. Have alternate events in mind in case you don’t have time to travel or the program you intended to go to is overflowing, not what you expected, or cancelled. Don’t be afraid to arrive late or leave early!

Allocate time for the Exhibits; don't try to see them all at once. Don't pick up all the “swag” you see. But, if you do, know that there is a postal center available on the Exhibits floor.


Network & Get Involved

You are not alone. Ask questions and learn from the thousands of librarians and related professionals from myriad backgrounds attending the conference with you. These individuals may face the same challenges as you or have developed solutions you need; they may have a similar position as you or one that you want; or they may be a potential collaborator or mentor.

Talk to people. Introduce yourself and exchange business cards or contact information.

If you want to get involved in the association, a specific division, round table, and or committee, attend meetings and introduce yourself to the chairperson, director, etc.

Note that it’s normal to arrive late or to leave early from events, including committee meetings.


Stay Connected, Apply & Share the Wealth

Keep connections! Make a note on the back of business cards you receive to trigger your memory of the exchange. Send follow-up email messages to the contacts and presenters you meet.

Apply your experiences. Take time to review the notes and materials you collect and to plan how you can use the information in your position and at your library.

Share and discuss the new ideas you learned with your co-workers.

Reacquaint yourself and reflect on why you are, and what makes you glad to be, a librarian! *

Add the NMRT Membership & Networking Meeting and NMRT Social to your schedule when information becomes available! The full list of NMRT events is available closer to the conference--check the Conference Scheduler once it opens.

* Text based on: the District of Columbia Library Association’s 2010 “Making the Most of Your ALA Conference Experience” discussion and online document, “Tips for a Successful Annual” on the Annual 2009 conference wiki, and “Washington, D.C. Conference to Feature More Sessions, Opportunity than Ever Before” published in the 2010 Preview Edition of Cognotes.


How to Conference Like a Champ

A helpful and tip-filled blog post by ALSC member Amanda Yother after her first ALA conference.


Ten Conference Tips for a First-Timer from Leigh Milligan

Based on her experience at 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting, Leigh Milligan wrote an article for INALJ (the I Need a Library Job eResource center) for first-time attendees like her. Thanks to Leigh and INALJ for permission to include her helpful tips here. Read the full article now.

A quick overview of Leigh's 10 Tips:

Attend an orientation session.
Bring business cards and network.
Prepare a small 30-second speech about yourself.
Attend career sessions at the ALA JobList Placement Center.
Volunteer at the conference.
Attend meetings for Divisions and Round Tables you are a member of or are interested in.
Attend educational sessions, but also attend something fun.
Use the conference app.
Make time for the exhibits hall, but don’t grab too much free stuff!
Attend socials not just ALA sessions.


Exhibit Hall Tips from Your YALSA Colleagues

Walking the exhibit hall like a pro—a great planning tool and handy tips from your YALSA colleagues.


ACRL 101 webcast

Designed to help first-time attendees make the most of their first ALA Annual Conference experience, this one-hour interactive session provides tips and personal recommendations on how to prepare for your trip to Orlando, what to bring, planning your schedule, networking, conference etiquette, ACRL programs of interest, and more!