Doper Librarians: Anyone else going to ALA in Chicago?

I’m being sent for work, which is nice because I’ll get to see some of my friends who I haven’t seen in a year. But it is my first ALA conference, and I’d love any tips you have. I’ve checked out the Unofficial ALA Conference Wiki tips, but I know that dopers will give me the real dirt - I’ve got some sessions I have to attend (one in particular is the reason I’m being sent) and others I’m considering.

Beyond that…which vendors traditionally give away the best schlock? Which should I avoid because they’ll call me for the rest of my life?
Of course, tips on Chicago in general wouldn’t be amiss either, for anyone who saw “Chicago” in the thread title and poked their head in to see what this is about. :slight_smile:

I can’t go this year, but I went to last year’s in Orlando. (Gaylord still e-mails me, FYI.)

Aim for tote bags, they’re not as common as they used to be. You’ll need them for all the junk you’ll pick up. If you’re flying, try to be more judicious than I was - I drove, with a friend, and I think there’s still ALA junk in my trunk. One can also score on free books. If you’re in NMRT, the newsletter I just got had some excellent conference tips in it which I can heartily second.

Wear extremely comfortable shoes. Don’t worry about how stupid you look. We walked miles and miles and miles in the exhibit hall last year, and all around the conference center. Your sessions will never be close to each other, and you will not see everything you want to. You probably won’t even see half of what you were planning on.

At noon on the last day, all the publishers start selling their display books for 50% off (or better) so they don’t have to pay to ship them back. Lines start forming about 11:30.

Oh, by the way, I finally got a job! (But they’re not about to send their Littlest Librarian to ALA this year.) It’s so sweet, I’m going to have insurance at the start of next month and I hope to be getting at least professional leave if not money to do more events. I’m going to try hard to do ALA and the Charleston Conference on Serials and Acquisitions, even though it’s super-expensive.

YAY! My last unemployed friend from library school got a job in SC a couple of months ago too. So YAY! for both of you.
Where I ended up is actually sending their Littlest Librarian (that’d be me) to ALA this year, which is great because it give me an opportunity to go. A couple of friends who graduated with me are being sent as well, so we get to hang.

And next year is New Orleans…and I’ve got housing available for that if I decide to go. But there’s still plenty of time to think about that.

Oh boy, a librarian convention is coming to my fair city. Quick! Notify an authority!
Hoo, i kid. Enjoy Chicago, plenty to do here, IANALibrarian, but if the place catches on fire, i MAY run into you.

I may try to sneak in an pick me up one of those quiet librarian chicks… You know, parties all night then shelves books at her 9 to 5. Not really.

But I am in Chicago. I’m talking to you, quiet librarian chicks.

I’m going! I wasn’t aware of the wiki article so thanks for the tip.

This is my first ALA. I’ve been to PLA twice. Frankly, many of the people I’ve talked to say that PLA is better. It’s usually all at one conference center (so you’re not trying to go across town for each session) and the programs are better. I’ll reserve judgement on that but I will say that there are not many ALA programs that are relevant to my specific job duties. I had better luck at both PLA’s.

Have you tried the ALA event planner? It’s actually pretty cool.

I’ve been to about 10 ALA conferences, and I’ll be in Chicago this month. It’s easy to pick up so much stuff in the exhibit hall that you will have trouble carrying it back with you on the plane, so:
(1) if you want a vendor’s catalog, ask them to post it to you, rather than pick one up there.
(2) if (like me) you pick up lots of review copies of books, and other books at around half the regular price, go to the post office on the exhibit floor and mail them back to yourself. Media mail rates are really cheap. (But try to avoid doing that on the last day of the exhibits, because the post office queue gets really long then).

The big problem with Chicago as an ALA conference venue is that most of the meetings are in hotels around the Loop, while the rest of the conference is a couple of miles south of the Loop at McCormick Place, so you can spend half the time on shuttle buses between the two. There is a rail connection (Metra, not CTA), but the rail service is infrequent.

Yeah, but right now it’s pretty red with conflicts on Saturday & Monday (Sunday is the day for the session I’m being sent to attend, so I suppose I have to go to that). And I don’t love the way it prints, but I’ll deal with that.

I’m thinking of hitting up the NMRT orientation Saturday morning, but I’m not positive about it yet.

Yeah, I don’t like the way it prints if you choose the print option - the long list of events - it was harder to see where the conflicts were. I figured out how to print out the visual calendar view of everything and that shows the conficts much better. I went ahead and wrote in the locations for everything on that printout and that’s going to help me decide which program to attend.

I was thinking aboutgoing to the NMRT orientation, too, except that I didn’t join NMRT…

What session do you “have” to attend?

I don’t think there’s any requirement to belong to a section of ALA to attend the meetings of that section. However, some meetings require advance registration (and payment for workshops before the conference), and a few committee meetings are private. So I think you can just turn up to the NMRT if you want to.

The conference is so big, and there are so many attending, that I don’t that there’s any event that everyone simply has to attend.

If you’re going to be at McCormick, then it’s tough to walk over to downtown proper, but I would suggest catching the bus to the Mag Mile. Good walking area (yes, comfy shoes!), and lots of stuff to see.

Wow…if I were single. I always had a thing for the bun-coiffed, glasses-wearing Librarian.

If she were holding publishers previews, I’d go a little nutty inside.

Right. I know that. My bad, I wasn’t being very clear. lsura said that the session she (?) was being sent to ALA for was on Sunday, so she supposed she had to attend it and I wondered which one that was. Like I said, I wasn’t being very clear. Sorry about that.

I didn’t think you had to be a member of the NMRT in order to attend their orientation, as it doesn’t say anything about pre-registration or extra $$, but it’s good to know for sure.

I am going to a pre-conference on Friday afternoon - but I fly in early Friday morning. I’m hoping I’ll have time to get downtown from O’hare, drop my luggage off at the hotel, get down to McCormick Center to pick up my registration stuff, eat, and get back up to where the pre-conference is all in 3.5 hours. Whew. Lucky for me the pre-conference is not very far from my hotel so I won’t have to go very far after it’s over (and I’m ready to drop!). If it comes down to a time crunch I can probably put off going down to McCormick Center - as long as I’ve got my badge it probably doesn’t matter if I don’t yet have the badge holder/bag/program, etc.

It’s for Project SAILS, an information literacy assessment for academic libraries.

My preconference is at McCormick, so I’ve got to figure out the hotel to there after I fly in Thursday afternoon - yeah, I know there are shuttles, but that means I have to figure that out (I like to have things planned and it still feels very unplanned in my head. That’s what’s throwing me mostly for a loop right now.)

A lot of things that we didn’t get to in Orlando that we really wanted to (I missed the LOCKSS thing, for example) was because the sessions were in wierd-ass offsite hotels. Consider this in your planning. There’s no way we could have gotten something to eat for lunch and found our car and made it all the way to whatever hotel the thing was in, parked there, and still gotten to see any of it. The shuttles can be… infrequent. It would have been worth it to do more planning based on travel and less on just what we wanted to see.