The slow march towards ALA Annual 2010

Today, I registered for my first ALA Annual conference. It went along smoothly for the most part, save for when I went to pick a hotel. I had to scramble to get a map to figure out what was where from the slim pickings left. Even then, I ended up doing a virtual eeny-meany-miney-mo and selecting a hotel. As it turns out, according to Google Maps this hotel is right next to the building that houses Fox News. I personally really don’t have anything against Fox News, but I’ll be able to tell my fellow conference attendees if the presence of thousands of left leaning socialist ‘give away the materials for free on taxpayer dollars’ librarians has any effect on the station. Or maybe the proximity of the conservative network will mask my liberal presence in the city the same way that the cave that was strong with the Dark Side of the Force hid Yoda’s from Darth Vader and the Emperor on Dagobah. In any event, I found the registration for the ALA website to be a bit stranger.

You see, when you register, you have the option of a prefix. Normally, this is limited to a select few choices: Mr., Mrs., Ms., maybe Dr., and a none of the above blank one. Apparently, these few are simply not enough choices for the ALA.

A title for all occasions!That screenshot is a composite of the many, many prefixes you can choose. Captain? Lt Commander? Rabbi? Senator? Sister? I know I’m going to go back and swap them every month just to see the faces on my coworkers when they get the mail. What I can’t figure out is why they have some military ranks and not others. Who wouldn’t want to be a Rear Admiral in the ALA? The jokes practically write themselves! (Personally, I’m leaning towards Judge or Professor.)

lol newbsIn more serious fare, I have started a Twitter list for other ALA first attendees. If anyone wants to see what fresh eyes see (and tweet) when they attend the conference, I highly suggest you follow this list. It will be growing, I presume, as more people announce their newbie status. I asked for advice for people new to the annual conference on Twitter today. The collected wisdom of the day was:

I also highly recommend Erin Dorney’s blog post "Conference Attendance Advice”. It has her own conference tips as well as links to other posts with advice. Check out additional tips in the comments, too!

I’m looking forward to this summer. It should be a good one!

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The Mid-June 2007 Cites & Insights--the "Cites on a Plane 2" issue--is entirely devoted to conferences and speaking, with the first 16 pages on "coping with conferences." Lots'o'suggestions from lots'o'people.

Thanks for sharing your experience Andy. I'm not surprised to hear your reaction to the part about picking the hotel - it can be overwhelming. I tried to share my method that has worked well for me but requires just some effort and advance preparation - but I almost never am disappointed with my hotel choice.

I hope you'll consider using my method. Good luck next time.


here's the post:

Got My ALA Midwinter Hotel – Darn Easy Too!

If I don’t manage to reserve my first choice ALA/ACRL conference hotel room within 30 minutes of the opening bell then I consider myself a failure. For me this process actually begins about two weeks prior to the start of the reservation process. I do a detailed review of the available conference hotels, analyzing all the amenities, prices and locations so that I can get the optimal reservation. For me that includes making certain the hotel has a fitness room – and it has to be open 24 hours. I also check to make sure there is free internet in the room – don’t believe what they tell you on the ALA site. I’m an early riser so I make sure I can get breakfast by 6 am or 6:30 at the latest. Pricewise I’m looking at the low end of the spectrum. Those are my top priorities. I don’t care about coffee makers, flat screen televisions or nightly turndown service. So I narrow it down to the four or so hotels that seem to best meet my criteria. I then proceed to the hotels’ websites to see if they actually do meet my criteria. Then I call each to confirm which ones will actually make the cut. The next step is to compile all the data and then rank the hotels from first to last choice.

On September 2 at 9 am EST I logged on to the conference site and first took advantage of the bundled registration to sign up for midwinter and annual – and saved a few bucks. I was then seamlessly shifted to the hotel registration process. ALA is running on all cylinders with this easy, new combined conference/hotel registration process! Within five minutes I’d booked a room at my first choice hotel – an optimal mix of low price, location and amenities. It’s a bit more work in advance but I think it definitely pays off on the day registration opens. ACRL in Seattle? Done! Same joint conference/hotel registration process. Fast and easy. Since I liked the hotel where I stayed in January 2007 for ALA Midwinter I just chose it again. You know, I sort of missed doing my conference hotel analysis. Well, there’s always ALA Annual in Chicago. If you usually procrastinate on the hotel registration process, think about giving my method a try – unless you really prefer a last minute reservation at that fleabag motel on the outskirts of town.