Stephen Abram has blogged a great set of suggestions for first-time library conference delegates, from the personally practical to the professionally prudent. Some of our teams are on the road at the moment (publisher services are at SSP in Crystal City; library services are about to head over to Baltimore for SLA), so it seemed pertinent. Some of my favourites from Stephen's tips (to give you a selection which might encourage you to read them all):
"Bring at least two pairs of shoes" (I learned the value of this during my nth footsore journey from hall 4.2 to hall 8.0 at my first Frankfurt some years ago -- and this was in flat shoes that I'd borrowed from my mother and was sure would be a safe bet)'Nuff said!
"Make your schedule in advance (at least at the start of the day, but earlier if possible). Include all of the options you might like so that if one desired session is cancelled or doesn't meet your expectations or needs then you can hop over to another. Make sure you note the room locations so you can evaluate how much time you have to get there between sessions."
"If you're late, have a little courage and take a seat. Don't hover and shuffle at the back of the room or in the door. Librarians tend to sit in the end seat of every row and you'll have to shuffle theatre style to get a good seat in the middle of a row." I don't think for one minute that it's just librarians who do that but my, it's annoying (and perhaps a little insulting to the presenter, since it implies that you expect to want to make a sharp exit?)
"Remember your business cards." Ah, so simple. And so simply forgettable.
"[Exhibitors] invite you to workshops, demonstrations, announcements, breakfasts and parties, etc. Don't accept the invitation and then blow them off. It's rude." I've been at workshops where half the listed delegates have just not shown, and I squirmed with pity (probably misplaced and patronising) for the poor undervalued presenter. So it's rude to other delegates as well as the organisers!
"DON'T be embarrassing! Hoovering through the exhibit hall looking for free pens and avoiding eye contact with anything resembling booth staff is not the image librarians want to project." This familiar image just made me chuckle, though of course the majority of librarians aren't just in it for a free <insert cheesy freebie of choice here>.
"DON'T assume that your old familiar vendors haven't changed and that you know everything about them. This is your opportunity to learn what's new and different."