Friday Fun: Conference SWAG

My husband has been in Las Vegas this whole week at a Microsoft conference, learning about the latest things going on with Microsoft and the web.  Before he left, he asked our sons if there was anything they would like him to bring back from the trip.  My youngest son (age 4) replied, “Can you bring back some more brains daddy?  I lost mine.”

Now only a medical librarian (or spouse of one) would probably understand that the brains my son referred to are the  squooshy stress ball brains that some of the vendors like Ovid hand out. 

Squooshy Stress Brain

My husband smiled and told my son that they may not have any brains where he was going but he would try his best.  My husband and I had a quick laugh over all the inside brain jokes, and that was it.  Earlier this week in one of his phone calls to me he mentioned that he received an XBox Kinect for attending the conference.  Wow, kind of cool.  That is some serious conference SWAG.

Clearly SWAG from a Microsoft conference is different from a Medical Library Association conference.   This got me thinking….  What is the best SWAG that you have gotten from a library conference?

If you ask my kids, the squooshy stress reliever eyeballs and brains are winners.  They even like the blue/green long twisty things that Ovid once handed out.  The boys call them snakes and create elaborate Lego, Playskool, and Hot Wheels battles involving the “snakes.” 

I know there are librarians who love the conference bag.  They are handy and are great for groceries, day at the beach/pool, etc.  I have to say my two favorite things I got from a library conference were a sports water bottle and a USB drive.  While others (including my kids) may not think a water bottle or a USB drive may be cool, I was thrilled to get them because I use them a lot.

What things have you gotten at a library conference that you were thrilled to get and why?  Is it the squooshy brain or the USB drive?  Or were you one of the lucky ones to win an iPad for putting your business card in a box, although that is technically not SWAG (Stuff We All Get), but if I won something like that it definitely would rocket past the water bottle.

13 thoughts on “Friday Fun: Conference SWAG”

  1. I like the things you squeeze to strengthen your hands. Currently I have a heart and two small people, a man and a woman, who are generic medical providers wearing blue scrubs. I try to squeeze them a lot every day.

  2. Free massages! If McGraw-Hill is doing them this year and you don’t like strangers rubbing your back, let me scan your badge and take your turn.


  3. “Brains” and other squeeze toys great for kids and grandkids, as well as adults. One in my bag Also love clips that work to close all sorts of bags; heavy duty ones best (with Magnet for refrigerator). Decent cloth bags, with outside place for water bottle, are very welcome. A filled reusable water bottle would be great… (Price in hotels is outrageous!)
    Can you pass on these recommendations for MLA 2012? Please?

  4. I’m probably in the minority, but I don’t like most conference swag, because it seems so wasteful. I bet lots of those plastic tchotchkes end up in landfills within a month (or a week) of the conference. I do like useful stuff: candy (bring on the chocolate!), water bottles, Post-It notes, pens, etc., and the prize drawings are fun (not so likely that an iPod will end up in the landfill anytime soon :-) ). I also like the recent trend to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) to conferences. It’s more environmentally friendly, and it’s fun to see the bags people bring.

  5. I’ve won an iPod and it was very cool but my most favourite SWAG are those little triangle shaped tri-coloured highlighted markers. Sweet!

  6. Well, this really got me thinking since I haven’t gone to a conference in a long time. Reading other responses reminded me of some of my favorites – the highlighters, the bag (great for carrying all my flute stuff to concerts and rehearsals!) and the post-it-notes. But my favorite “prize” (not SWAG) was when I won a combination tv/vcr (yes I know I’m dating myself – this was a great prize back in the day) at the Texas Hospital Association meeting I attended with my husband.

  7. Those tri-colored highlighters, a mini-mouse for the computer, a nice faux leather binder that I take to meetings (it is just about worn out), candy, GOOD writing pens. The McGraw-Hill massage is always awesome! I do not like the conference bags (I’m a dude) and usually give those away to my staff.

  8. My favourite item so far was the BMJ yellow highlighter in the shape of a syringe! Cool! If you are on FaceBook, add me and I’ll send you photos I took of all the SWAG I collected at Information Online this year. I also wrote a little article for Health Inform about it. I’ve been going to library and medical conferences for about 6 years now (since I became able to afford it) and so far, I’ve not had to buy a pen in all that time. I must have hundreds of pens and pencils! On another note, what is the most hated item you’ve scored as part of conference SWAG? Mine has been a prepackaged spicy seasoning for crab that had MSG in it (a Singaporean conference). I immediately binned it Of Course!

  9. I am a huge fan of the quite square bags that Ovid have been giving out in the UK of late. These fold down flat but are great for picnics and such like.

    Generally I try not to take too much promotional junk on the eco grounds others have mentioned.

  10. I just unpacked my swag. I love the post-its, pens & pencils and highlighters. It helps the library budget cause I have to buy less of them with our supply budget. I love the USBs since, like you, I use them a lot. The massage was WONDERFUL and doesn’t take up room in my suitcase. Love the M&Ms and other chocolate. I also like those colored postit flags which are helpful when I’m editing articles to mark things I want to check again. The new lightweight bags are nice for grocery shopping or returning books to the library but I have enough of them now. Wore out a paperclip holder and was hoping for a new one but no luck. Got a very nice steel commuter-type coffee mug to replace the worn-out plastic one I use daily that I picked up at another conference.

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