Resources for First Timers

First Timer Questions?  Please use the contact form if you have a question or need some help.


Enjoy the conference offerings and Chicago attractions!

Tips from the super helpful New Members Round Table (NMRT)

The Basics

  • Wear your nametag to meetings, social events, and on the conference shuttles but not on the street. Bring business cards with you. Carry snacks and drinks.
  • Use the maps provided in the conference program to locate conference hotels and to navigate the convention center and exhibit floor.
  • Take advantage of the free conference shuttles to travel between events.
  • Explore your interests and learn something new. Take notes during or just after sessions while the content is still fresh in your mind.
  • Meet people. Avoid listening to music, texting, etc., when you could be networking.
  • For last minute schedule changes and social events check Cognotes, the daily conference newspaper; ALA Connect, and/or twitter (#ala2013).

Design Your Conference

  • Use the program scheduler to design your own conference experience: Find the programs, poster sessions, discussion groups, speaker series, parties, etc. that match your interests and expertise, and/or topics key to your position responsibilities and organization’s initiatives.
  • Schedule your days to fit the time and place of events, including travel time. Have alternate events in mind in case you don’t have time to travel or the program you intended to go to is overflowing, not what you expected, or cancelled. Don’t be afraid to arrive late or leave early!
  • Allocate time for the Exhibits; don't try to see them all at once.
  • Don't pick up all the “swag” you see. But, if you do, know that there is a postal center available on the Exhibits floor.

Network & Get Involved

  • You are not alone. Ask questions and learn from the thousands of librarians and related professionals from myriad backgrounds attending the conference with you. These individuals may face the same challenges as you or have developed solutions you need; they may have a similar position as you or one that you want; or they may be a potential collaborator or mentor.
  • Talk to people. Introduce yourself and exchange business cards or contact information.
  • If you want to get involved in the association, a specific division, round table, and or committee, attend meetings and introduce yourself to the chairperson, director, etc. Note that it’s normal to arrive late or to leave early from events, including committee meetings.

Stay Connected, Apply & Share the Wealth

  • Keep connections! Make a note on the back of business cards you receive to trigger your memory of the exchange. Send follow-up email messages to the contacts and presenters you meet.
  • Apply your experiences. Take time to review the notes and materials you collect and to plan how you can use the information in your position and at your library.
  • Share and discuss the new ideas you learned with your co-workers.

Bobbi Newman's "Updated ALA Survival Tips"

Before you leave and once you get there, plus links to other posts on the topic--all sorts of helpful tips!

Exhibit Hall Tips from Your YALSA Colleagues

Walking the exhibit hall like a pro—a great planning tool and handy tips from your YALSA colleagues.

Reacquaint yourself and reflect on why you are, and what makes you glad to be, a librarian! *

Add the NMRT Membership & Networking Meeting and NMRT Social to your Annual Conference schedule when information becomes available! The full list of NMRT events will be available closer to June--check back and we'll link to the list as soon as we can.

Have further questions? Check our FAQ.

* Text based on: the District of Columbia Library Association’s 2010 “Making the Most of Your ALA Conference Experience” discussion and online document“Tips for a Successful Annual” on the Annual 2009 conference wiki, and “Washington, D.C. Conference to Feature More Sessions, Opportunity than Ever Before” published in the 2010 Preview E-dition of Cognotes.


Enjoy a mouthwatering meal at one of Chicago's top restaurants with colleagues from across the nation. Whether you're traveling alone, a first-time attendee, or just looking for a great Friday night meal, join the Dine Around Chicago program!

Restaurants listed below are offering tables to seat 10 for dinner Friday, June 28th.  The reservation is filled on a seat-by-seat basis to offer automatic dinner plans, networking, and great food all in one.

More restaurants will be added to the list as they become available. Use the link below to sign up before the slots are taken!

Scoozi Restaurant LogoBerghoff Catering & Restaurant Group

                                            Brasserie by LM Group Restaurant