Each day this week, I am going to blog about my experiences at TXLA, specifically summaries of my sessions, a behind-the-scenes look at the Spirit of Texas committee meetings, authors and publishers I met, what ARCs I got, what I bought, where I ate, etc. I will also tweet much using the #TXLA12 hashtag, so be sure to follow!
Early this Tuesday morning, I will be tearing up the Texas highways in our trusty-never-rusty school-district van with five of my esteemed library colleagues. It will take us approximately 5 hours to arrive in Houston from Fort Worth. Hang onto your hats, ladies, I'm driving the highway miles!
This will be my fourth pilgrimage to TLA and my second in Houston. If you are new to the TLA experience, I have a few tips:
BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME:
- PRINT OUT IMPORTANT PAPERWORK
Bring copies of your hotel registration and your TLA registration confirmation paperwork. You don't want to deal with a lost reservation, and let's face it, things happen.
- PRINT DIRECTIONS.
Directions to your hotel, directions to the Convention Center, directions to the Houston Public Library (see Houston PL below)
- BRING SOMETHING TO LUG YOUR LOOT!
Wheeled carts are not allowed on the showroom floor, BUT...I am taking a wheeled cart and checking it just outside the exhibition hall doors. I did this at ALA Midwinter in Dallas in January, and it worked GREAT! At ALA, it cost me $3 to check a cart, and I came away with more loot than I could have possibly carried without it.
In the past, I have carried a backpack with me in the Exhibition Hall. It worked fine, but my shoulders were sore for the entire trip! I could only fit so much in my backpack before I had to return to the hotel to empty. Vendors do hand out large bags as well, but these also get heavy quickly!
- PLAN YOUR SCHEDULE BEFORE YOU LEAVE.
The schedule is available online (click here). You don't want to miss out on something because you didn't see it until it was too late.
- SMARTPHONE USERS, DOWNLOAD THE TXLA12 APP.
This thing is awesome! You can plan your schedule, read session descriptions, follow TXLA12 on Twitter, and view maps of the Convention Center and Downtown Houston. It rocks!
- ADD CURRENT PHONE NUMBERS OF COLLEAGUES TRAVELING WITH YOU INTO YOUR CELLPHONE.
Wouldn't want to lose anyone!
- BRING COMFY SHOES AND SOCKS.
You'll be doing lots of walking!
- BRING SOME WAY TO TAKE NOTES AND FILE HANDOUTS.
Since I am checking a wheeled cart this time, my back is free to carry my laptop in my brand-new laptop backpack! I will also have a pocket-folder inside for handouts, as well as plenty of pens.
- CREATE SOME BUSINESS CARDS.
This is my first year to bring these, mainly because I like to learn things the hard way. If you don't have any business cards, use Publisher to make some before you leave. You'll be writing your phone number/address/name a lot for vendor giveaways, publishers, and new friends you will meet. If you have a blog or library-related business you want to promote, it's great to include that information on your cards as well!
WHILE IN HOUSTON:
- DON'T LEAVE THE HOTEL WITHOUT THESE ITEMS!
--Your TLA registration nametag. You can't enter the Exhibition Hall without it, and yes, they do check.
--Business cards (You did create those, right?)
--Something to read--Like I even need to say this to a bunch of librarians. Still, there may be some down-time between sessions when you can squeeze in some reading. I also plan to lunch alone, so I'll definitely need a book for that.
--The little things--aspirin, band-aids, chapstick, hand sanitizer, emergency feminine hygiene products, etc. I also plan to bring face powder, lipgloss, a hairbrush, and scented hand lotion so I feel fresh and looking my best all day!
--Cash! While most vendors accept debit/credit cards, it's nice to have cash on-hand for author signings. Some publishers charge a nominal fee ($5-$10) for the books offered at signings; these are sometimes cash-only transactions.
--A warm jacket, sweater, or hoodie--It's absolutely FREEZING in the Convention Center. Last time, I wore jeans, tennis shoes, a t-shirt, and a thick hoodie every day in the Convention Center. I still froze! Please trust me on this one--you will be so glad you brought it. You can always tie it around your waist in the unlikely event that you don't need it.
- DON'T BE AFRAID TO LEAVE A SESSION IF IT IS NOT WHAT YOU EXPECTED.
Okay, I know this one is controversial. My BFF and I debate it every time we go to TLA. She thinks it is rude to leave mid-session. I say you are paying big-bucks to be there, and if you are not getting anything from your current session, it's okay to duck out quietly and attend something else. Whenever there are two sessions I'm interested in at the same time, I will plan to leave one halfway through so I can attend some of the other one. If you are unsure about a session, just sit near the exit and quietly slip out if you need to. As a regional presenter myself, I understand and promise I won't hold it against you.
- VISIT THE HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY.
Yes, it is a little walk from the Convention Center area, but the weather is expected to be nice and it is so worth the trip! The last time I was in Houston (at TXLA 2009), my BFF and I went exploring and ended up at the HPL. The librarians were SO NICE! They welcomed us, asked if we were from TXLA, and gave us a tour of the library. I was especially impressed with the After School Zone (Teen Center), which I WISH had been around when I was a teen. I never would have left!
- ATTEND THE ALL-CONFERENCE WELCOME PARTY FROM 6:30-8:30 TUESDAY.
I admit, I've never attended the AC Party. BUT, attendees will be able to preview the Exhibition Hall and participate in the week-long Geocaching Challenge! I have never geocached before, but I can't pass this opportunity up! I'm already thinking about how I can use geocaching in my library...hmmm...More details about the Welcome Party are on page 33 of the Daily Schedule.
- OF COURSE, ATTEND THE SPIRIT OF TEXAS COMMITTEE SESSION ON FRIDAY MORNING (8AM).
Who knew they were from Texas? The pool of talented Texas authors is as huge as Texas, and it is high-time these "local" authors got some attention! Yes, I know we're up at the same time as Teri Lesesne and Rosemary Chance, but you know you're curious about the SPoT list! This list is brand-new this year, and we have so many cool programs coming up!