ARLIS/NA First Time Attendee Guide - 2022 Annual Conference

Annual Conference,
Registering for the conference:
  • Sign up for tours and workshops
    Tours are a great way to meet other members and discover more about cultural institutions in Chicago. Workshops offer opportunities to learn and discuss innovative and in-depth topics, with a hands-on or interactive experience. We recommend signing up for at least one!

  • Get paired with a conference guide
    The Chicago conference planning team is excited to invite conference attendees with 0-3 years of ARLIS/NA conference experience to make meaningful connections with veteran conference goers by signing up for the Conference Guides Program. Conference Guides arrange to meet their Newer Attendee at the start of the conference, check in with them along the way, introduce them to colleagues, and help them to get the most from the experience! If you are interested in being paired with a Conference Guide as a newer attendee, please use this form to sign-up by 3/23. Questions before signing up? Contact Alex O'Keefe,

Suggestions for conference preparation:
  • Pick which pre-conference meetings you want to attend
    ARLIS/NA is comprised of many groups including: 

In the weeks leading up to the conference, these groups host virtual meetings where they report on their past year and plan for the future. Meetings will be shared on the conference calendar, so keep an eye out because you don’t want to miss these unique opportunities to connect and get involved!

  • Review the Program & Schedule page
    Make a Sched account and set up your personal schedule ahead of time to avoid being overwhelmed - don’t forget to plan water/snack/bathroom/mental breaks. Of course, going to sessions related to your job is great, but consider attending other sessions that aren’t! They might just inspire you to look at your work in new and interesting ways.
  • Consider volunteering
    Volunteer to help at the Registration Desk or to shepherd attendees to tours, workshops, and receptions, which are great opportunities to get involved and introduce yourself to new colleagues. Watch for the call for volunteers on ARLIS-L!
  • Get your gear
    Don’t forget to pick out your most comfortable conference day bag and pack it with your favorite reusable water bottle, snacks, extra masks, hand sanitizer, supplies for note-taking, presentation supplies, phone charger (it’s not fun to sit by a wall plugged in), business cards, and a sweater (it’s hard to pay attention in a chilly conference room).
  • Check out helpful maps
    Check out the Local Guide Maps to maximize your time in Chicago and download the Hotel Floor Map to quickly find meeting or event rooms.

Conference highlights you won’t want to miss:
  • Reception for First-time Attendees, New Members, and International Guests
    Meet the ARLIS/NA President, members of the Executive Board, and Membership Committee while you also connect with other colleagues who are new to the conference! Check it out on the schedule here.
  • Membership Meeting
    Learn about who’s who in the ARLIS/NA leadership, where future conferences will be, reports on the past year, future goals of the organization, and more.
  • Welcome Reception/Anniversary Celebration
    Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ARLIS/NA. The welcome reception is an informal time to meet new colleagues, chat with presenters and enjoy refreshments in a resplendent 19th-century landmark building. Find out more about the venue and add it to your schedule here.
  • Diversity Forum
    This year’s Diversity Forum features presenters Eliza Myrie and Kevin Whiteneir discussing  Black Lunch Table’s Radical Archiving Projects. Black Lunch Table (BLT) is a vernacular history archiving project with a mission to build a more comprehensive understanding of cultural history by illuminating the stories of Black people and our shared stake in the world. They envision a future in which all of our histories are recorded and valued. Read the full description of this session here.
  • Convocation & Reception
    The Convocation is a formal program including the presentation of awards, special tributes, and honors. Following is a reception and opportunity to mingle with colleagues, visit a local museum, and enjoy refreshments. Save the ceremony to your schedule here, and find out more about the reception venue here.
  • Connect with ArLiSNAP
    If you’re a student or new professional, consider connecting with ArLiSNAP (Art Library Students & New ARLIS/NA Professionals). This year they will be hosting a Happy Hour and the Creating and Maintaining Professional Websites workshop (on the schedule here). Plan to join these events, and be on the lookout for an information table where you can connect with other students and new professionals. In the meantime, they have a great blog where you can learn more and find opportunities.

Conference Tips
  • Follow ARLIS/NA on Twitter and Instagram to keep connected through social media! Conference volunteers will be sharing live updates, conference tips, and member experiences throughout the conference on Twitter and Instagram. You can also use #ARLISNA2022 to share and connect with other attendees.
  • Remember session etiquette. When entering or exiting a session in progress, be mindful of disruptions. Try to time your entrance or exit during transitions between speakers or activities.
  • Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new colleagues. It can be intimidating attending a conference for the first time, but you’ll be surprised how many people will welcome a chat between sessions, at events, or after their presentations.
  • Strategize your schedule with other attendees you meet. If you split up and go to different, concurrent sessions, you can reconvene later and share notes! Be sure to check which sessions are being recorded too - they’ll be available after the conference through the ARLIS/NA Commons.
  • Make back-up plans
    • Sometimes popular sessions fill up quickly. Choose a second session you would enjoy attending in case your first choice is full.
    • There are often a lot of people on the WiFi network at once, which can create lags and slow connections. If you keep your schedule digitally, consider downloading a copy in case you have trouble.
  • Tips for working through the Exhibit Hall
    • Break up your time into multiple visits rather than trying to visit all the exhibitors in one session.
    • Be prepared: know your collection development goals and focus on vendors that fit your library’s interests.
    • Remember that you are not expected to buy or commit to anything when talking to the exhibitors. 
    • Bring your business cards in case you want to leave contact information or participate in giveaways.
    • Speak with vendors. Make use of this opportunity to get to know them, learn what they offer, and collect information for future consideration. Many ARLIS/NA exhibitors are small businesses, and the owner is the person at the table.
    • Attend scheduled coffee breaks and the featured exhibitor presentations.
    • Thank the exhibitors for coming to the conference – ongoing exhibitor sponsorships help lower the cost of your registration!