Coming to ALA Midwinter? Here are some tips that might help

by Holly Boyer, Head Editor, INALJ Virginia

Coming to ALA Midwinter? Here are some tips that might help

hboyerALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia is coming up later this month. If you haven’t been before, the Midwinter conference is an excellent introduction to ALA’s conferences. It’s smaller than Annual which means it’s a little easier to navigate and not quite so overwhelming. Most of the sessions are business meetings, and people who are interested can sit in and learn more about different committees and the work they do. I am by no means a conference expert, but I did have the good fortune to attend last year’s Midwinter meeting and came away with these lessons learned.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. If you need to dress up, wear your walking shoes and change in to the nice ones only when you need to. The conference center is huge, some of the meetings are at other local hotels, and you will walk miles on the exhibition floor alone.
  2. Beware the lure of ARCs. The exhibition floor is piled with books. Seriously, they are everywhere. Most of the fiction publishers will push ARCs (advanced reader copies) on you like, well, like books on a librarian. Don’t take all of them. You will want to. You will be sorry when you collapse under the weight of all the young adult romance novels.
  3. Use the job placement center. If you’re on, then you’re looking for a job. The good folks at ALA JobLIST have excellent resources for job seekers. In addition to resume critiquing and career counseling (which, sadly, there are no more available slots), there is an open house with employers that are actively hiring, and several career development workshops. I’ve already put 3 of them on my conference scheduler.
  4. Talk to people. Imagine you’re standing in line for coffee (and you will be standing in line), say hi to someone, start a conversation. I’ve met several people at conferences this way. I learned about life working at a vendor when I couldn’t find a place to sit at lunch and asked if I could share a table. On the plane out to Seattle I sat next to two veteran librarians – one an academic librarian and the other a retired public librarian. I enjoyed listening to their experiences and a gaining bit of advice.
  5. Socialize. This is a bit different than the talking above. There are quite a few social events happening during the conference and you should take advantage of them. A good place for newbies to start is the NMRT (New Members Round Table) social on Saturday, January 25. (I happen to be on the committee for this event – please come!) There are so many others – pick a social event that interests you and go. Don’t forget to talk to people.
  6. One of the highlights of my conference last year, aside from Carol Tilley’s presentation Comics: A Once-Missed Opportunity, was going to the Youth Media Awards. I was a total book nerd growing up (some things never change), and it was a real treat to see the Newberry and Caldecott (among others) award winners announced. I may have even heard a gleeful Tom Algleberger cheer when his wife, Cece Bell, won a Geisel Honor Book Award last year. It’s the Oscars for children’s book lovers.

Here are some more tips for first timers. If you need more incentive, check out ALA’s tips for making your case for attending.

See you there!

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.