Every year at about this time, librarians across Texas and neighboring states travel in droves to the Texas Library Association Annual Conference. Sadly, this will be my last TLA for awhile since I'll be moving to China this summer. The TLA conference is one of the many things I will miss about being a Texas librarian!
Each day this week, I am going to blog about my experiences at TLA, 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's up at TT4L, what I bought, where I ate, etc. I will also tweet much using the #TXLA14 hashtag, so be sure to follow!
This will be my sixth pilgrimage to TLA and my second in San Antonio. If you are new to the TLA experience, I have a few tips:
- 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 Alamo, etc.
- 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've done this twice before and it works GREAT! In past years, it was either $3 or $5 to check a cart, and I came away with more loot than I could have possibly carried without it. I have also seen people who bring and check wheeled suitcases to lug their TLA haul.
I also carry a backpack with me in the Exhibition Hall. It works fine, but my shoulders get pretty sore pretty quickly! Vendors do hand out large bags as well, but these also get heavy quickly! You can check the vendor bags as well!
- PLAN YOUR SCHEDULE BEFORE YOU LEAVE.
The schedule is available online (click here). This link is for the pocket schedule, but you don't need to print it! They will give you one when you check in on the first day. Read the schedule thoroughly so you don't miss out on something because you didn't see it until it was too late.
- SMARTPHONE USERS, DOWNLOAD THE (FREE) TXLA14 APP.
This thing is awesome! You can plan your schedule, read session descriptions, follow TXLA14 on Twitter, get push notifications ("Jane Doe signing ARCs of her new book right now at booth # 1234!"), and view maps of the Convention Center and the Riverwalk area. There is also a search feature if you're trying to find something specific. It rocks!
*This year the app requires you to login. The login is located on your TLA registration confirmation email under "Mobile App Information" (your login is not the same as your TLA number). If you can't find the registration email, you can also log in from the TLA website (instructions). If you still need help, you can call TLA at 800-580-2852 and ask them to lookup your meeting registration password.
- ADD CURRENT PHONE NUMBERS OF COLLEAGUES TRAVELING WITH YOU INTO YOUR CELLPHONE.
Wouldn't want to lose anyone! One of our librarians made a text group of the attending librarians in our district using GroupMe. I need to make one of those for my family!
- BRING COMFY SHOES AND SOCKS.
You'll be doing lots of walking! Dress is casual--you will see lots of people wearing jeans and librarian-themed t-shirts. Others will be in casual slacks or skirts. Dress for comfort! Don't have a librarian t-shirt? Don't worry--The conference is FULL of lots of really cute t-shirts for bibliophiles!
- 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, a fresh notebook (there's just something about opening to the first page of a new notebook!), and plenty of pens and highlighters.
- CREATE SOME BUSINESS CARDS.
I've only discovered this one recently, but it sure makes things easier! 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! If you don't have any business cards, use Publisher to make some before you leave.
WHILE IN SAN ANTONIO:
- DON'T LEAVE THE HOTEL WITHOUT THESE ITEMS!
--Your TLA registration name tag. 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 TLA was in San Antonio (2010?), it was cool and rainy the entire week! 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 or check it with your wheeled cart 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. I've heard some say 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 wouldn't hold it against you.
- OF COURSE, ATTEND THE SPIRIT OF TEXAS COMMITTEE SESSION ON WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON (1PM).
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! We will be introducing our new 2014-15 list and showing off our shiny-new programming on the SpoT website.