So yesterday I did my final day at ALA10, my first experience at ALA. Usually I attend ISTE each summer, but felt I needed to give ALA a fair shake at making me fall in love with my job as a school librarian and my edtech geek innerself all over again. That happens EVERY YEAR at ISTE, but I’m still processing my thoughts, so I cannot say that is the case here at ALA yet.
Yesterday I spent a lot of time in the Exhibit Hall. Past experience at big conferences tells me that exhibitors or much more inclined to give away material their last day (less to pack for them) so I can usually score pretty big. ALA’s Exhibit Hall has a reputation for having mega give-aways throughout their conference, and after seeing the long line of folks shipping home box loads of their freebies, I can attest to this.
I typically don’t collect the catalogs and fliers that are pushed from the vendors, but instead limit myself to ones truly have an interest in. So I spent sometime visiting the hall–in hunt of t-shirts, pens (for my favorite local waitresses at Victoria’s Diner) and such–items I can perhaps use as door prizes for upcoming workshops. I scored okay, but it did cause me to consider how different the exhibit halls are for ISTE and ALA. I do understand the target audiences are widely different, and so some of the differences are understandable.
The biggest differences:
At ISTE, it seems even the smallest of vendors have their setup designed to invite viewers in for a short demonstration. At ISTE, I could rotate from booth to booth and get a demonstration of the products, often interactive and hands on. These impromptu “sessions” made spending time in the exhibit hall guilt free, as they were more like mini professional development sessions that spurred ideas for projects or grants. At ALA more of the booths were set up for casual conversation and browsing. If I worked on it, using the ISTE exhibitor guide would allow me to literally set up a planner for time spent there. It is great for the ADD inclined person who can’t seem to sit for more than 20 minutes, but most definitely a worthwhile investment of time.
T-shirts! At ISTE if you would sit through any demonstration, often times there was a t-shirt or other item as a reward. Not everybody likes the t-shirts, but I do. I did not wear them at conference, though some did as a part of a bigger award–be wearing their t-shirt, and you could win ___. I’m not much for being a walking billboard at conference, but I do like the collection of t-shirts with cool educational logos or phrases on them. I did hear from a friend that some of the vendors had them, but you had to ask for them. WHAT? So I did pick up a few. When I specifically asked, they acted like they had to sneak to get me one. Yeah, WHAT!? Why’d they bring them?
At ISTE, the vendors seem to have themes–either related to the conference theme, or related to their own company theme. I did not much notice many themes at ALA, but there was a vendor booth for furniture (sorry I don’t remember who!) that had a decidedly Washington, DC theme, complete with a desk and window treatments to resemble the oval office, and a photo op with a “President Obama” look alike. So cool. Yes, it made me want to stop by and chat (given them the opportunity to scan my badge-card.)
All these pictures are licensed as Creative Commons and other than the first one (which is mine) are from the stream produced
by ALA – The American Library Association http://www.flickr.com/photos/ala_members/