What to do when you are #ALAleftbehind

What to do when you are #ALAleftbehind

by Leigh Milligan, Senior Editor


leigh.milliganUnfortunately, I rarely get to go to ALA conferences, unless it’s local in or near Philadelphia. I currently don’t work in a library so my employer will not pay for it and I have yet to receive funding from different conference sponsorship programs.  I can’t afford to go on my own.  Between travel, hotel and conference admission, I cannot afford it.  My May 2015 wedding is near and I just bought a house that needs a lot of tender loving care, so that is where most of my money is going right now.

Do you think I just sit home and cry about it? Of course not. I try to come up with many ways to stay involved with the ALA conferences while I am not there.  Here’s a few ways I stay in the know.

  1. Hashtags I love #hashtags. For ALA Mid-Winter this year the hashtag was #ALAMW15 and I was able to see all the going-ons at the conference including sessions, presentations, meetings, social gatherings etc.
  2. Living through other librarians. Because I’m a crazy networker, I have many librarian friends on social networks like FB and Twitter. Throughout the conference I got to see all the photos they posted and all the different places they checked in to. I am also a member of the FB group ALA Think Tank where I was able to converse about and see all the going ons at ALA.  Because of this I didn’t feel too bad about missing Jason Segal and his Man or a Muppet song because all the librarians shared pictures and quotes from the session, I felt like I was there. Plus this is also a great way to start a networking conversation with librarians; it can be a great ice-breaker!
  3. Some of the sessions/panels are live tweeted.  This is very helpful as I do wish I was able to attend some of the meetings or at least get a sense what it was about. I am active in New Members Round Table (NMRT) and this is the meeting I am usually looking forward to. Well I was in luck! LLAMA and NMRT had a panel that was live-tweeted and I got some very useful information from the tweets about new librarians and how to get involved in ALA.
  4. Make a Plan!  While I was not able to attend Mid-Winter and probably not ALA Annual, it does not mean I won’t be able to get to a conference in the future. Right now I am planning on Special Library Association (SLA) Conference in 2016. It’s local, in Philadelphia, so I won’t worry about travel and I am on the planning committee for the conference. I am also looking to present and/or do a poster session at a conference in the future. I am working on building up my leadership skills.  I am also job hunting, hoping to find a library that will fund me to go someday.  Applying to the ALA Emerging Leaders program is also an option if you are looking a funding. It’s very competitive but now is the time to start working on your resume and gathering your skills for you application!

Additionally, for Mid-Winter, Mary Mackay of ALA put this little list of coverage options together. So yes social media is definitely an option. Hope to see this for every conference, at least ALA!

You can also check out http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/alamw15 and http://alamw15.ala.org/cognotes.

Well there you have it; you can still have fun, learn from conferences and plan for others even when you are #ALAleftbehind. How do you survive being #ALAleftbehind?