As a new librarian and someone who does not have the power of the purse strings, I’m often unsure of what to do in exhibit halls. I know the vendors want to tell me about their amazing products, but I’m sometimes unsure of what to do or ask or even say in general. Monday is the last day for the exhibit halls, so I wanted to share some pointers that I have picked up from other conference goers about what to do and how to interact with vendors as a first timer/new member:
- Let the vendors know how your patrons like or don’t like their products. This is a great time to give feedback and discover new features in the pipeline that you can bring back to your patrons. This is my typical go to, if I can bring something back to my patrons that I know they are asking for or would benefit from, this is the time to find out! If you and your patrons do not like something, this is also the time to voice the issue! The vendors are here to listen, they want to make sure their product is working for their users and what better time to give constructive feedback on what isn’t and hear if they are find ways to mediate that issue
- Find out about products you don’t have at your institution. We all hope for opportunities to bring new products to our institutions. Talking to vendors at MLA'18 is a great way to find out if there are new tools or services that could be a part of a future budget proposal.
- Learn how vendors demo their products. I always love learning how other people teach, especially those not in libraries. This is a great way to learn how others navigate the products that we use. Frequently, we get into a workflow on how to operate something and we forget that someone may use different entry points. I love seeing how vendors navigate their own systems to see if they do something differently than I do, and how can I learn from their methods.
Even if you are not the purchasing decision-maker, there is still a lot to gain from the exhibit halls and the vendors.