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Getting the Most Out of MLA ’22

Whether you are attending your first MLA meeting or your 31st, whether you are attending in person or virtually, the New Members Caucus has some suggestions for how to get the most out of MLA '22. These ideas were gathered from the recent New Members Caucus business meeting and from a 2007 MLA News article coauthored by Shannon Jones, Tomeka Oubichon, and Lisa Huang. Also check out Kate Corcoran’s tips for first-time attendees on the meeting website.

Planning

MLA meetings are packed full of sessions, speakers, events, receptions, and more! How will you choose to spend your time?

  • Think about what you want to get out of the conference: What do you want to learn? Who do you want to meet? What do you want to see? It can be helpful to think about the knowledge and skills you want to develop for your current position or what you want to develop for your next position.
  • Look at the online program: what sessions, continuing education classes, and events do you think will help you with your learning goals? What sessions will allow you to connect with the people with whom you want to connect? Don’t forget to consider sessions outside of your goals, too. Which ones look interesting? Which ones look like they would be fun?
  • Don’t forget to download the meeting app and get familiar with all that it offers: current daily schedules, maps of the convention center and hall of exhibits, abstracts and other presentation materials, and the ever-popular restaurant guide.
  • Look for sunrise seminars, lunches, and receptions. You can learn more about exhibitors and their products; they are also a good way to stretch your meal budget.
  • If you will be attending in person, don't forget to bring your business cards if you have them.
  • If you are attending virtually, block off meeting days on your schedule and defend them from other meetings. If you are back in the office, you may want to work from home during the meeting to minimize interruptions.

Whether you will be in-person in New Orleans or attending virtually, take care of yourself.

  • Traveling can be hard. Build in rest and recuperation time if you can.
  • Most in-person conferences entail lots of walking, so comfortable shoes can help.
  • Conference centers seem to have very little control over their environments: wearing layers is a good idea. Also, make sure you stay hydrated. Lip balm is a good idea, too.
  • Keep tabs on how you are feeling. If you are feeling overwhelmed or that your brain is full, take breaks when you need to, including taking a nap. I usually take a break at least once a day to do a brain dump, jotting down notes and ideas—cleaning out my brain to make room for the rest of the day.
  • If you are in New Orleans, take advantage of the fun things to do and good foods to eat. The Local Arrangements Committee will have plenty of ideas at the Hospitality Booth.

After the meeting

  • Schedule time after the conference to reflect. Look over your notes, handouts, and the online program. What did you learn? How will you apply it? Who did you meet? Do you need to contact them? What ideas do you have for your library? Did something inspire you to think about a new research project? Now's the time to capture these things—before you get swept back up into day-to-day work.
  • If you have colleagues who also attended, consider having a meeting (face-to-face or online) to talk about the conference.
  • Personally, I find it helpful to write up a little report for myself. A supervisor asked me to do that when I was a young librarian; it has stuck with me since!

What advice do you want to share?

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