First Time Attendees Guide - 2024 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 Pittsburgh. 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 Pittsburgh 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 the conference guide form to sign-up by 3/21. Questions before signing up? Contact Stephanie Kays,

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

In the weeks before and after 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, welcome exhibitors, or shepherd attendees to receptions, which are great opportunities to get involved and introduce yourself to new colleagues. Use the volunteer form to sign up.

  • 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, 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 and guides
    Check out the Local Guide and Google Map to maximize your time in Pittsburgh and download the Hotel Floor Map to quickly find meeting or event rooms.

Conference highlights you won’t want to miss:
  • Reception for New & International Attendees
    Meet the ARLIS/NA President, members of the Executive Board, International Relations Committee, and Membership Committee while you also connect with other colleagues who are new to the conference!

  • Annual Business 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
    The welcome reception is a perfect time to meet new colleagues, chat with presenters and enjoy refreshments. This year the reception will be at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.

  • Diversity Forum
    The Diversity and Inclusion Committee is excited to welcome Miguel Sague, Jr. from the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC). Following the mission to promote the socio-economic development of the Native American community and others who experience economic difficulties in the Greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area, this group provides programming, services, and resources that support the well-being and professional development of the communities they serve. Check the Diversity Forum Sched listing for more information.

  • Convocation & Reception
    The Convocation and Awards Ceremony is a formal program including the presentation of awards, special tributes, and honors. This year the convocation  keynote speaker will be the renowned artist Ann Hamilton. Following is a reception and opportunity to mingle with colleagues, visit a local museum, and enjoy refreshments. Save the Convocation and Awards Ceremony and the Reception on Sched.  

  • 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’ll continue the successful tradition of sponsoring an open forum panel discussion and CV workshop for students and new art & architecture library professionals. In the meantime, they have a great blog where you can learn more and find opportunities.

Conference Tips
  • Follow ARLIS/NA on Bluesky Instagram,  and the conference Slack channels to keep connected through social media! You can also use #ARLISNA2024 to share and connect with other attendees.

  • Remember session etiquette. Be mindful of disruptions. While it's perfectly acceptable to leave or join an ongoing session, 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. Pick a back-up session that's a bit out of your usual work zone. It's a cool way to learn something unexpected and keep your schedule a bit more go-with-the-flow.

    • 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

    • Even if you have no budget or are not responsible for purchasing at your institution, do visit and chat with the exhibitors. It's a treat to see what they are offering and they enjoy meeting new attendees.

    • 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.

    • Thank the exhibitors for coming to the conference – ongoing exhibitor sponsorships help lower the cost of your registration!