Ask an Agent: Conference Tips

askanagent2You’ve got questions,  we’ve got answers! Our volunteer Agents are on the job! Here’s what they have to say this week….

Question:  I’m attending ALA Annual for the first time, do you have any advice?




Andrea (TSU): 

When going into publisher’s booth don’t be demanding. I like to go in and ask the reps if there anything they’d recommend that I keep an eye out for.  I take mental (or physical) notes about what they’re pushing for the upcoming season. I do ask for ARCs if one sounds interesting. Be polite though, showing that you’re after more than just ARCs will go a long way. Try to plan out a schedule ahead of time, but allow yourself to change it. It’s okay if you don’t make it to a certain session due to sleep, meeting up with friends, or just needing a break. Don’t kill yourself trying to get it all in. That’ll just leave your burnt out in the end. Take this time and let Annual energize you and allow yourself to fully absorb all you can.

Beth (TSU):  

Wear comfortable shoes and bring a refillable water bottle.  Plan some alone or quiet time into your schedule, especially if you are an introvert.  Bring business cards and pre-printed labels with your address to mail things home.  Don’t be afraid to say hello to people or start up a conversation while you’re waiting in line. In the exhibit hall books piled on the floor are usually for taking and books on display are not. If you are in any way not sure it’s more than okay to ask. A smile and a please makes everyone’s day better.

Christie (TSU): 

Look at the schedule and know your “must do” sessions and then have a back-up; a lot of times your “must do” is everyone else’s as well, and if the room is full, you’re out of luck, especially if it’s a popular author or speaker. Also take a look at where your sessions are, and get an idea of where you have to go between sessions- every conference center is huge, and a lot of times hotels will have similar names. It’s horrible to go to the wrong side of the conference center for a meeting, or worse the entirely wrong hotel (in Orlando’s case, this year it can be the Rosen Centre vs the Rosen Plaza). Be aware that Orlando is hot and humid this time of year, with rain in the afternoons, yet in most of the hotels and conference rooms it can be frigid cold as the AC is set to counteract not only the heat outside but a huge amount of people. Remember to eat (or bring easy to tote snacks) as it can be hard to find time for lunch if you’re in a mad dash between sessions. Finally, take a chance on a session that sounds interesting but outside your normal wheelhouse. Instead of focusing completely on teen services and teen authors and teen programs (sensing a theme?) branch out a bit. Go to a session on how one of the committees work, or one of the adult authors, or one of the technology sessions. You might surprise yourself!


Thanks to our volunteer agents for the awesome answers. If you have a question about anything teen services related ask it here! Your question will be featured on the blog with answers from our agent volunteers or TSU team members. If you’d liked to be a volunteer agent, please submit your info here.

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