Hack ALA: A Conference Advisory for ALA Annual

Every year, tens of thousands of librarians descend upon the selected site of ALA Annual, the American Library Association’s annual conference. Every year ALA provides a stellar lineup and this year in Chicago is not an exception. In addition to the Monday keynote of Senator Hillary Clinton, there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of sessions, events, programs, papers, and panels available.

For a library student, or any newcomers to ALA Annual, making sense of the program and what to prioritize is a daunting task. Not only is there multitude of events to potentially attend, the program isn’t exactly, um, easy to browse, despite being online and searchable.  Perhaps our conference app hosts should hire a taxonomist, hm?

At any rate, we at HLS have taken it upon ourselves to curate several thematic tracks that we think will be most useful for library students to attend. We’ve taken care to select sessions that encompass multiple kinds of libraries and populations.

To access our recommendations

  1. Check out our open Google doc here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1m3Z7g935oUUKE0IaibXarFQ2YGydBe8zMZbKyqmY99E/edit?usp=sharing
  2. Browse the tabs at the bottom to find a track of interest.
  3. Sessions are organized by date and time.

Below is “The Short List,” a selection of sessions that we believe all library students will benefit, regardless of area or expertise:

Friday, June 23

11:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.

Saturday, June 24

8:30 A.M.

10:30 A.M.

10:30 A.M.

1:00 P.M.

3:00 P.M.

4:30 P.M.

Sunday, June 25

8:30 A.M.

10:30 A.M.

1:00 P.M.

Monday, June 26

8:30 A.M.

10:30 A.M.

3:00 P.M.


Of course, for anyone who has attended ALA, you know that simply deciding what to do is only half the battle. For all you seasoned vets out there, what tips do you have for getting the most out of conferences? Have any additional must-see recommendations?

Photo credit: American Library Association, 2017.

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