I have been a member of ALA since 2001 and have attended several ALA conferences since I joined the association. I look forward to attending ALA annual as it has afforded several opportunities to keep current with changes in the cataloging world and network with colleagues. Additionally, there are opportunities to attend sessions devoted to other topics which hold my interest such as digitization emerging technologies, and continuing education opportunities for librarians.
One note to the would be first time conference attendee, planning the sessions you wish to attend weeks in advance is critical to having a rewarding and self paced experience. Fail to plan ahead, and you would, like me during my first ALA conference, be caught frantically trying to decide at the last minute which session would be of most value and wasting valuable time and energy hopping from one conference shuttle bus to another. Also comfortable shoes are a must!
In addition to attending the daily presentations on your choice of topics (there are several tracks to choose from for e.g. Digital information & Technologies, Collection Management and Technical Services, Administration and Leadership, Research, Transformation & Innovation, Issues & Updates) you can attend the exhibits (can you say freebies), vendor sponsored lunches to demonstrate new products and services, nightly receptions, the opening and closing sessions with celebrity keynote speakers (this year Ron Reagan and Jamie Lee Curtis did the honors), a book cart drill competition (only at ALA can you have a competition where the contestants dress in costume and dance and contort with a book truck accompanied by their favorite music selections, this year’s winner -The Well Stacked Sci-Brarians received a DEMCO gold plated book truck as first prize). If you are fortunate to attend ALA the next time it is held in Anaheim you can (like me) support the ProQuest scholarship bash and in return get the chance to spend some time with Mickey and Minnie in Disneyland.
If you wish to view all of the presentations at ALA this year please visit the conference wiki http://wikis.ala.org/annual2008/index.php/Annual_2008