Self-Care at ALA Annual Conference

I’ll be attending the American Library Association’s Annual Conference for the first time ever this month and I’m both nervous and excited. Pouring over the schedule of events, there are way more things going on than I’ll ever be able to attend. I’ve made a preliminary schedule for myself and then several secondary schedules with back up plans if I happen to not be into a particular panel discussion. If you’re still working on your schedule, check out the suggestions that HLS posted yesterday.

I realize, though, that my schedule is crazy. I’m a big introvert and I know that going going going all the time exhausts me. Add that to the feeling that I should be networking and meeting lots of people, and I know that I could be feeling totally burnt out by day two. With this in mind, here are some methods I’m planning on using to recharge and keep myself going throughout the conference. Hopefully some of them will work for you too!


Tour the exhibit area alone

I know a huge part of the conference is all about networking, but I plan on exploring the exhibit area on my own to give myself a break from that networking. I also know that if I’m going to be actually interacting with the exhibitors that’s going to be draining enough, so I want the space to pick and choose what I want to see and just walk around if I need to. A note for first-time conference attendees like me, though: I hear it’s good to get tips from conference veterans about what booths to visit when, so that might be something to keep in mind.

The Park @ ALA

The preview issue of Cognotes contains a sidebar that caught my eye: in amongst the exhibit space is a section called The Park, featuring tranquility domes and other activities outside of the exhibit booths. The Playground also looks like something to check out for more hands-on break time. These are definitely things I’ll be checking out along with the exhibits. They look really fun!

Mix it up with fun and serious activities

I’ve tried to include both serious and fun panels in my schedule so that I don’t get too burnt out attending panels all about the same thing. An important thing here is to remember to attend panels that you’re actually interested in. I’m also trying to vary my schedule up by going back and forth between panels and the exhibit hall.

Treat myself

I’m not a coffee drinker, but at some point during the conference, when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed and/or sleepy, I plan to treat myself to either bubble tea, chai, or some kind of ice cream. Not only will this be tasty, it will also provide me a quick break away from the hustle and bustle of the conference.

Time alone before bed

I know that I’m inevitably going to wind up tired, so I’m going to make a concerted effort to make some alone time for me before bed. If I feel up to it, I’m going to use this time to get some work done (hello, summer internship assignments and language flash cards that I haven’t done), but if I’m not up for that I plan on just doing some fun reading.


What about you? How do you take a moment for yourself when you’re at ALA or other conferences? Share your ideas in the comments!

For more on self-care, check out these posts by Amy and Amanda.


Zoë McLaughlin is a Master’s student at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. Find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, or at her personal blog.

Featured image by Jared Doyle at Pixel Surplus under a Creative Commons Zero license.

Categories: Conferences, Hack ALA

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