I'll being attending ALA Annual 2011 at New Orleans in June thanks to support from my employers. Amazing to think that I will be attending the largest library conference in the world, when my prior experience has being attending relatively small local library conferences/seminars in Singapore. Beyond that the chance to meet international peers who I have being corresponding online is something that is not going to come by easily.... Going to be a great learning experience for sure!
I notice Joeyanne, a academic librarian from the UK is in the same boat as me, a international librarian attending our first ALA conference, she blogged about it here. I hope to run into her at
Just looking at the ALA annual website is overwhelming which probably explains why after booking conference tickets, rooms and airfare, I promptly stopped thinking about it based on the excuse that most of the programmes weren't finalised yet. (Side note, I wonder if this is how our new users feel when they visit our library websites which is chock full of information)
But #ALA11 is less than 3 weeks away and I have to start planning and I finally settled down to do it on Friday.
Struggling with Google calender, travel apps
I'm not much of a traveler, so it was interesting to try some new stuff out for international travel.
First thing I did after booking my flight was to try to put my flight details into Google calender. I managed to automatically import it in, but with timezone differences, I was very wary of mistakes. On Friday I eventually realized you could enter different time zones for start and end times.
I also took the opportunity to try many travel apps like Tripit, TripDeck, FlightStatus, GateGuru which was supposed to make travel easier by capturing flight and accommodation details (often from emails or google calenders).
It reminds to be seen how useful such apps will be. (Probably bringing along my iPad 2)
I also tried services like Planely which allow users to connect with fellow travellers by Flight number, but I seriously doubt I'm going to use this.
Picking events with ALA Online Scheduler
The ALA Online Scheduler is an amazing piece of work, I used the recommender which was pretty good at figuring out which events I would be interested in (based on your ALA profile). I went crazy selecting the events, so many interesting events so little time.... There doesn't seem to be an easy way to share your schedule though? No mobile app?
- How much should I plan? Should I plan every move with military precision, or should I go with the flow e.g follow people, or be prepared to jump from conference room to conference room when it gets boring? I'm guessing I shouldn't be too ambitious.
- Not quite sure about the differences between "Presentation/Session Tracked Programs" and "Discussion/Interest group". Wonder if vendor sponsored lunches are worth it.
- Think I probably want to go to vendor exhibits and have a look at the posters. Wonder what's the best time for the vendor exhibits? I have some free time after attending the Movers & Shakers celebratory luncheon on Friday which ends at 3pm so was thinking of visiting the vendor exhibits then but I notice it says Friday, June 24, 2011 05:30 PM - Monday, June 27, 2011 04:00 PM . Er but what times do the exhibits close? Seems an odd time for the exhibit to start at 530 pm?
- There should be free Wi-Fi at most of the sites right? The hotel I am staying says there is, but I got to check whether it comes with the room free.