Currently my mother is in Toronto for the International Reading Association Annual Convention, or on her way home by now. It sounds fantastic, at least what she told me about a few days ago. At any rate, it's got me reminiscing on my first conference: ALA 2003, Toronoto. I hadn't even started library coursework yet, though I would start in just a few weeks. So what do I remember from that experience?
Being preoccupied with finding a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and then reading said book (and being spoiled by Canadian news)
Amazement at the publishers actually giving books away (and just how heavy those things can get)
Difficulty finding lunch
Fantastic dinners at a variety of ethnic restaurants
The "newcomers" orientation being almost no help
Hearing Robert Munsch tell stories
Exhilaration at being surrounded by librarians
Because I had not yet started library school I did not reap the benefits I could have this first time around. I've been lucky enough to go to every annual conference since then (wait, minus New Orleans), a few small state conferences and the 2006 PLA National Conference. Every time it is an exhausting and exhilarating experience. And every time I go I get more out of it, having more of my own professional experiences to relate to the things I learn.
I'm assuming this summer will be the last time I get to go to annual for some time and so am planning to take maximum advantage of the conference. (I'm somewhat afraid I'm already overbooked, having at least three groups I have to meet up with for lunch/dinner and two other meal events.) I plan to come home worn out, loaded down with books and other paraphernalia, totally loving librarianship and librarians. Cause that's what happens after these things.