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TARGET-> Advice for First Time Conference Attendee- AASL Pittsburgh

Hi, I am a first-year elementary school librarian who will be attending
the AASL conference as my first library conference.  I would like to
TARGET-> Advice for First Time Conference Attendee- AASL Pittsburgh. I'd
like to know if any others on LM_NET have advice for a first time
conference goer.  I don't know anyone who is going to the conference, so
any specific advice about Pittsburgh or this particular conference would
be helpful as well.  Also, I remember reading that it is valuable to
print address labels ahead of time to use in the exhibit drawings or
mailing lists.  What information should I put on my labels?  If people
will respond to me, I'll compile your responses and post a HIT-> on the
topic back to the entire LM_NET by October 3rd.  
Thanks so much! 
Stephanie Hatley, Librarian
Robinson Elementary, Houston, TX


I received a lot of great advice that I hope other first timers can use
as well.  Thanks so much to everyone who responded.

Here is a summary of recommendations:

--comfortable shoes
--labels with your name, school, address, e-mail, and school phone
--tote bag to put all your freebies in, but comfortable to carry around.
--There are usually a lot, so make sure you only take what freebies you
will use or read; if someone hands you something or includes it in your
purchase bag, look at it and toss it if it isn't of interest, right then
and there.
--Since roll bags are usually forbidden on the floor either use the 
baggage checking service or the Convention Post Office.  You can mail 
your stuff back and not have to pack it.
--a large manila envelope in which to corral paperwork, business cards,
and so on
--aspirin or whatever you use to treat headaches
--ditto muscle aches (Ben Gay etc.)
--snack foods, conference food at the convention center is expensive
--bottle of water to keep in your tote bag
--comfortable clothes you can wear all day, sit on the floor in, sit in
chairs in.  
--measurements or brand/model names for equipment like the Ellison
machine,etc. (I was offered a free replacement pad at a conference and
took the wrong one because I didn't know what our model # was)
--a list of booths you want to check out, written in order around the
hall(you might need to do this once you get there and get a map of the
--couple of good pens (for taking notes, writing down questions and
comments, etc.)
--a small tape recorder (if they'll allow you) for taping workshops
--a good sense of humor, a well-rested bod, and LOTS of patience
--Don't let yourself get overwhelmed.  You won't get to do everything. 
--Talking to other librarians is about as good as it gets.  Make sure
you stop to do that.
--Contact your jobbers and vendors to see if they are holding receptions
and parties.
--Expect long lines at registration.
--Have business cards to exchange. Be sure your current email is on
--Check with your hotel in advance to see if they have Internet & at
what cost.  Even if the conference offers free Internet, waits are often
--Public transportation is not as established outside of the immediate
pgh. area as you might think if you are from a bigger city.  If you want
to explore outside of PA, the easiest shopping/dining area is Station
Square and the Southside.  You can also get a bus to the Waterfront
--For your own sightseeing, consider visiting "the strip district" early
morning (before noon; after noon it starts to close).  Ask your hotel
for directions.  You can probably walk.  Here you'll find produce
vendors, street carts, ethnic food stores, and the growing collection of
yuppie shops.  The smells and variety are enjoyable.  Stop at Primanti
Brothers for an original Pgh sandwich.
--The folks at Pitt's Library School (Dr. Biagini) have really worked to
encourage people to connect/network.  Hopefully you registered for the
dinner cruise.  A trip to the Pitt campus area is a good tour as well.
See the Nationality rooms on the campus in the Cathedral of Learning. 
--I take extra folders and large envelopes to organize the handouts I
Toni Buzzeo writes:
--Be sure to go to the AASL website and use the event planning software
to create your own plan/schedule for the conference.  That way, you'll
know when and where your highest priority workshops are!  (Mine is on
Saturday afternoon: Drivers' Ed for Collaborators, 1:30-2:45, CC
--Be sure to attend the first-time attendees session.
--Be sure to attend the Gala on Saturday night.  It's a wonderful place
to schmooze.
--Attend author signings!  I'm signing my children's books on Saturday
from 12:00-1:00 in the Author Signing area. 
--Strike up conversations.  If someone is sitting next to you in a
workshop, they are there because they, like you, have an interest in the
topic.  You have something in common.  Chat.  You will be so glad you
--If you're free Friday AM early--and hungry--you might want to attend
the Thomson Gale Issues in Education Forum (I'm the lecturer this year). 
 A couple of people also directed me to the Knowledge Quest articles in
 the May/June issue, also found online:
 Stephanie Hatley
"I cannot live without books." 
~ Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

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