Want to help guide the educational programming choices for the PLA 2020 Conference, Feb. 25-29, 2020 in Nashville? Please take this one question survey to let the programming committee know which three issues you’d most like to see addressed in the programming. The survey closes at 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
I’m almost done blogging about PLA 2018! Here you will learn about LA County Library’s MakerMobiles.
Program Description: Want to offer STEM programming but don’t have room for a makerspace? Thinking about how your library can go mobile? Learn about LA County Library’s new MakMo makermobiles, which offer STEM and maker programming to 87 libraries and a service area spanning 3,000 square miles. Session highlights include detailed descriptions of the vehicle and equipment, lessons learned rolling out this new mobile, service, and sample maker programs to take back to your own library.
Leticia Polizzi, Adult Services Manager
Palos Verdes Library District, Palos Verdes, CA
Jesse Walker-Lanz, Adult & Digital Services Administrator
County of Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA
Budget: The start-up budget total was $250,000 including vehicle, equipment and staffing.
Team: Get your procurement team/purchasing department on board right away
Vehicle: Patrons don’t go on the vehicles. Staff only go on to get materials. Maker activities happen outside of the vehicle.
Staffing: a library staff member drives the vehicle and doesn’t need a special license.
Equipment: kids can make stuff and take it home (make dos). Have Ozobots, 3D printing (very popular), circuits – Little Bits and Snap Circuits, robotics – Lego Mindstorms and Cubelets, building – KEVA planks (also great for de-stressing during exam week). See the factsheet for more equipment.
Community promotion: Created promo material to say the MakMo was coming. Also went to library grand openings with MakMo. See promo and schedule.
This session, by author Kari Chapin, came highly recommended by the folks that offered the webinar for new PLA attendees.
She talked about possibility and all the different definitions it had. Here’s the one she settled on:
Possibility: A thing that may be chosen or done out of several possible alternatives. (Source: google)
The following advice was geared toward conference attendees but could be used any day you wish to imagine the possibilities.
Questions to ask yourself today:
- Ask yourself this first thing when you wake up, What is possible for me today? Set an intention. Say to yourself, “Today is going to be a really good day,” and your day will likely be pretty good.
- Ask yourself this at the end of your day, What happened today that surprised me? Who did I help today? Who was helpful to me today?
When networking, think about these things:
- Identify three areas you’d be really good at talking about (Do puppies count?!)
- Think of three things you want to know more about
- The best place to meet people is at the end of a bar or table. They may also be looking for someone to connect with.
Small Talk Tip:
Keep asking questions about the other person. People love to talk about themselves. Where do you work? What do you do there? Where do you live?
Ideal Day Exercise:
What would your ideal day look like? You’d get to make your own choices.
Step 1: Start when you wake up while you are still in bed. Picture everything about your day. What kind of sheets do you have? Who is lying next to you? How do I get to work? What will I have for lunch? (Always a good question.) This exercise will take you through all possibilities. You may even notice what is not there. The example provided was about a client who went through this exercise and she realized she never imagined her husband in any part of her day. I’m not sure how this ended up working out but it sure is interesting to think about.
Step 2: On your way home, do a similar exercise but this time imagine what an ideal personal day would look like. What is possible?
And last, I wrote down a challenge for the day. Think of one area where you could ask for support today.
And now you can read a more official write up of this session featured on americanlibrariesmagazine.org.
What do you imagine as possible?
Bring a backpack to wear. Having the weight of exhibit stuff balanced on your shoulders is a must.
Pack a duffel bag to use when you pick up too much stuff from the exhibit hall (because you will even if you didn’t intend to) and want to then check a bag when you get to the airport. I did talk to one person who was Teflon tough and didn’t pick up one item! AH-MAZING.
Empty your re-usable water bottle before going through security. They will either throw it away or you have to go through security again.
Don’t pack almonds in your carry-on. Apparently, these require full inspection by the TSA.
Uber. When you request an Uber, meet at the front entrance of the hotel instead of a side entrance to make pickups easier.
Extra pen. Stash an extra pen or two in your bag so when you sit down at a session you can easily find a pen to start taking notes right away.
Stop pretending you are going to exercise. I always have really good intentions of exercising when I go to a conference and then it rarely happens. I’m always super busy from morning to late at night and way too tired to do anything extra. I could’ve packed one less outfit if I had just been real with myself.
Bring an e-book instead of a paperback. Ugh, when am I going to learn? I could’ve carried one less item had I just downloaded a book. Oh, and don’t bring a backup book to a library conference where you are going to pick up 100 more books you could possibly read on your way home.
Extension cord. Someone on a blog suggested bringing an extension cord because of the need to charge your devices in the hotel room/conference center. Well, I didn’t find the need to use this at all. I used my power bank if my phone charge was running low.
Restaurants. Look up a handful of restaurants you’d like to try ahead of time so you are ready to go when someone says, “Where do you want to eat?”
Take pictures of name badges. Someone told me this on the flight home. With permission, take a picture of people’s name badges if you plan to connect with them later. Then you have an easy way to look up their name and library.
I hadn’t until this moment.
I packed one of those to-go oatmeal cups to save a little money on dining out. Plus, sometimes I just don’t feel like eating out ONE.MORE.TIME. I heated the water up for the oatmeal in the hotel room coffee pot. I took the water and poured it into the cup provided with the oatmeal. I went to stir my oatmeal and I was, well, without a spoon.
What’s a girl to do? I could wait till I get down to the main hotel lobby where they have a few quick service places and grab a spoon or I could drink the oatmeal while it’s at least a little warmish.
I decided I’d rather drink my oatmeal warm than eat it cold. I used my resourcefulness and took the stir stick from the coffee area in the hotel room and used that to at least stir my oatmeal to incorporate the water.
Let me tell you, drinking oatmeal is not bad. Drinking oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit in it is a little more challenging.
Well, I made it to Philly, even with the nor’easter on its way. Several colleagues have reported that their flights were canceled and can’t rebook for another day or two. I am so thankful I arrived safe and sound. My first flight was only delayed about 20 minutes which made my connection a little tight. Many schools have already reported closings for tomorrow, Wednesday 3/21/18, and I have seen some museum closings. So far I have just seen a small accumulation of snow but it is very heavy and wet.
I decided to take the SEPTA train into the City Center because A) it was inexpensive ($6.75 one way), B) it was a 30-minute ride, and C) and the train comes every 30 minutes. It was delayed about 45 minutes or more due to the snow.
I took the SEPTA train (my first experience riding a train solo) to City Center and I got off at the Jefferson Station, which is adjacent to the hotel which is adjacent to the convention center. I was thrilled when I learned these were all together! That means when I go to leave, it’ll be pretty easy to get back to the airport. I overheard some other librarians heading to the same hotel so I asked if I could follow along. They said sure and so about 10 of us made our way to the hotel to check in. Librarians are so friendly.
My roomie and I went and had dinner at an Irish Pub and now we are settling in for the night. Tomorrow is a pretty busy day starting at 9:30am and ending at 9:00pm.
There has been a lot of weather warnings for Philadelphia. The city is likely going to be hit with a nor’easter. I was hoping I was done with snow for the year. Alas, I have packed my winter boots, hat, gloves, and scarf.
I am a librarian so of course, I did a lot of research on what to pack and what to expect. This is my first national conference so that means I had to scale up what I know from attending the WAPL and WLA conferences in Wisconsin.
Here’s what I learned in my research:
- Pack more business cards than you think you need
- Pack clothing in one color scheme so things mix ‘n’ match and you can minimize the number of shoes you bring (I have three with me: black flats, winter boots, tennis shoes)
- Pack clothing that can be layered. Conference hall temps are notoriously irregular.
- Pack comfortable shoes; there will be a lot of walking
- Pack snacks and an empty water bottle (unless you like buying $5 bottles of water at the airport)
- Pack for carry-on only which makes it impossible (hopefully) for the airline to lose your luggage. Ok, my bags are bursting at the seams but I made it work (see pic above).
- Bring an extension cord. People will love you
- Bring address labels for the exhibit hall (this might be an old tip but I grabbed some just in case)
- Plug hotel address into phone. Yay, the hotel is connected to the convention center via a walkway
- Write a 30-second intro speech (What do I want people to remember about me?)
- Hand sanitizer because it’s still cold & flu season (and I’m totally wiping down the hotel room remote with some sanitizer when I get in)
- Pick 2-3 sessions per session time to attend. The ones you planned on may be dry/not what you are looking for, they may be full, or you may not be able to get there in time, depending on how spaced out session rooms are (this may be more of an ALA thing. The Philadelphia Convention Center looks to be one huge, 3 block long building)
- Tweet #PLA2018
- Type your final conference report up on the flight back. If you wait, you will be putting out fires back at the office and your report will go on the back burner
Wow. I’ve been registering for this and agreeing to go to that and I finally wrote it all down in one place. I have a lot I want to do while at the PLA conference.
I asked our member library directors and staff if they would like me to attend any sessions on their behalf. I heard from a number of people so I am going to work to get to a bunch of sessions on their wish lists. Luckily a few of the sessions that my colleagues wanted me to attend are also part of the virtual conference so I can watch those archived links when I get back and move some other stuff around on my PLA schedule. I have at least three sessions earmarked for each program time so I have to maximize! There are that many great sessions to choose from.
Some of the other activities I am taking part in include:
Dine Around: signed up to go to dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant with a bunch of people from the conference. Looking forward to this!
Audio Publishers Dinner: this was recommended to me to attend. Free audio books and a decent meal.
Vendor Breakfast/Lunches: I am going to a Tutor.com breakfast, lunch with Ebsco and then Innovative.
Library Tour: I’m taking two hours to myself to go on a guided tour of the South Philadelphia Library. The library staff there are meeting us at the convention hall, then we take public transit to the library, tour, and come back. I love guided tours, especially door to door.
All conference reception: food, music, people, maybe an adult beverage? I’m there.
Yoga: I’m going to need to stretch after all this sitting. I’m prepared to do a little yoga in the hotel room but if I find a studio nearby, I may try that.
I have my schedule in my outlook calendar but it was getting a little overcrowded and I just couldn’t navigate it how I’d like to. I wrote out my schedule by day in my notebook so I can just flip through the pages instead of bringing out my phone constantly.
I listened to the recording of the webinar on making the most of the PLA 2018 Conference: Ideas for Attendees and Non-Attendees.
Here are my notes:
Before the conference:
- Review the PLA Conference web site
- Download the mobile app
- You can filter by tracks in the app
- Bookmark as many sessions as you wish. This will make it easier to go back to later on to see what sparked your interest even if you didn’t attend the session.
- Take notes in the app
- Pack comfortable shoes and wear layers. No need to pack necklaces, you’ll be provided a lanyard with a nametag. Dress code for publisher’s dinners is business casual to business professional. Error on the side of fancier
- Prepare a 30-second elevator speech
At the conference:
- Follow programs/presenters on social media. If you want more information about the session ahead of time, email the presenter
- Select your top three programs you want to attend for each session time. This way if something is full or not what you expected, you can head to another session quickly
- Arrive 15 minutes early to programs that you really want to go to. They can fill up fast!
- Attend the Imagine the Possibilities session with Kari Chapin Wednesday morning 10:45-11:45. Learn how to make the most of your time at the conference
- Take notes using the PLA app, in your PLA provided notebook, your computer, etc. and summarize main takeaways that same day
- Attend Big Ideas sessions Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:15am
- PLA Help Desk will be right outside the main exhibit hall
- Tweet using #PLA2018
- Take time for yourself to decompress
- Have a place to keep receipts for conference expenses
- Exhibit Hall
- Check out the PLA programming stage
- Bring your own bag that you are comfortable carrying. PLA will not supply one this time but know that vendors will likely have them to giveaway in the exhibit hall
- Networking is one of the best parts of the conference. Find a way that feels comfortable to you — attending the dine arounds/mixers, author luncheons, or other social events.
- Check out the Other Activities page on the PLA web site
- There is free wifi in the convention center but not the entire exhibit hall (It’s just too big!). You will find free wifi in the PLA Pavillion within the exhibit hall
- After the final session, there can be a mad dash to transportation so plan your schedule accordingly
- You can check your luggage at the convention center on the last day. Check the PLA website, attendee services page for more info
- If you traveled with just a carry-on, bring that with you to the last session and save yourself the headache of waiting in line to get your bag
- Shuttle service is not provided between nearby hotels and the convention center
After the conference:
- Write up a summary and share with your director or board
- Summarize three main takeaways from PLA. You want them to send you again, right?
- If you are attending because someone paid your way (e.g. Friends of the Library), send them a thank you card
- Fill out the conference evaluation form and you will be provided with access to the virtual conference
- Make a note of interesting libraries and subscribe to their e-newsletters or follow on social
- Reach out to people that you met at PLA. Ask someone to be your mentor
- Bring in a speaker to your library association’s conference that you saw present at PLA
- Handoff brochures/materials to the appropriate colleagues back home
- Set reminders on your calendar for 1 month out, 3 months out, 12 months out to follow up on ideas you learned about at the PLA conference
These are my personal notes and takeaways from the Making the Most of the PLA 2018 Conference. Please review the webinar for complete information.
I posted a question on the PLA Conference Facebook page regarding advice for first-time attendees. I learned that there is going to be a webinar on 2/27/18 on Making the Most of the PLA 2018 Conference: Ideas for Attendees and Non-Attendees. I just registered and will listen to the recorded archive as I am unable to listen live.
Other tips for newbies:
- Attend author luncheons, you’ll receive a behind the scene glimpse into writing, publishing, their inspiration.
- Use the App and plan your schedule. It’s soo useful! You will want to take home all the free books. You can’t carry them all. You probably can’t read them all. Approach the exhibits with a plan to be selective. You’ll throw it out the window and try to have all the things, but at least you can tell yourself you tried…
- Comfortable shoes, save time to go to the exhibits, say hello to people sitting next to you at the programs, BIG IDEAS, and try to learn 3 new things each day.
- Take a power bank for your phone. Always have a sweater or wrap.
- Attend a broad range of workshops — not focus on one area — just to see all the different things going on at libraries. Also, I LOVED the speed mentoring, if they have that again this time.