What I Learned at MLA

The first thing I learned is that being a Section Chair, NPC co-chair, Board member combined with a 3 hour time change makes Michelle a very tired girl at the MLA meeting.  So upon leaving Seattle and returning to Cleveland I decided to take a week break from all things librarian (except for my job) to get some much needed down time.  

Now I am back with renewed energy and want to talk/blog again.  So I thought I would list a few thing of what I learned at MLA.  Some are just small things while, other things are a little bigger and will probably be a future blog post.

  • Get involved! So many people asked me and others I know about the best way to get on committees and being a part of MLA.  Short answer: Get involved. Long answer: See my “how to” blog post later this week.
  • Food is good, but sometimes expensive, think outside the box to lure people to meetings/programs.  I was the chair for MIS, I discovered it would cost close to $450 to provide snacks (cookies and soda) for the MIS Business Meeting.  That is a lot of money and last year the promise of a free breakfast still had us scrambling for enough members for a quorum.  So we got creative and offered an iPad 2 ($400) as an attendance prize. We had people sitting on the floor at meeting.  Think of this when you are trying to lure people (doctors, nurses, med students, librarians, etc.) to a meeting or a class.
  • Google+ Hangouts might be a good free alternative for small group webinars or conference calls.  You can post the documents online and share them with the Google circle.  Big thing to note…you will need a laptop to initiate a Hangout.  So far you can only attend a Hangout on an iPad not be the one who initiates it. 
  • I can almost do everything I need to do on iPad and may not need my laptop at meetings anymore.  I say almost because if I want to do a Google Hangout (which we did for the MIS Business meeting) I need a laptop. I also needed a laptop for displaying the Twitter feed at the Tech Trends program, but that was more for my comfort.
  • Need anything while at the conference? Use Twitter! I had a bad headache and tweeted I needed some Advil and debated about going back to my hotel room to get some.  Within one minute 5 people tweeted they had some for me, including one person in the same room.  I repaid my Twitter karma by giving Alisha764 some Advil when she tweeted she had a headache.

Other observations:

  • More people had iPads or smartphones than I have ever seen in one conference. I think the knitting librarians dropped their needles and yarn and bought iPads. If you doubt me take a look at gabinator’s Instagram photo of the conference room when Mark Funk asked people to lift up their mobile devices. It’s blurry but look at all of those white screens.
  • There is NEVER enough time to see and do everything….that just conference life. That is why the online content is so important now.
  • There is probably a need for “How to do an MLA Meeting” online guide for first time attendees. 
  • You can never have enough power outlets.
  • If you do a Google Hangout to include members not at the conference, don’t schedule your meeting for Saturday or Sunday.

This is just a list of some of the things I learned and observed.  I plan in the next week or two to highlight a few posters and presentations that I found especially helpful or insightful. 



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