Meet and Greet: The California Library Association Conference

By Andrew Carlos

Every year, California librarians converge in one location to browse aisles of new library-related products, hear about new developments in the library world and share ideas with their colleagues. This past year, the California Library Association (CLA) Conference was held in Sacramento and I had the opportunity to attend and present.

One of the best things about attending a conference is learning new ideas from innovators in the library world. Even better is to be one of these innovators. I had the chance to present a poster session that would be viewable for the duration of the exhibition hall. The session was focused on technology and education: using mobile apps for education. With the wide variety of applications out there, I highlighted the ones that were useful for students: information retrieval apps and productivity apps. The session was very well received and many attendees were surprised that each of the apps were ones that I use in my everyday life.

The unfortunate part of attending a conference is the inability to be in more than one place at a time. Even though CLA offered a session planning tool, I ended up overwhelming myself with all of the options for sessions (you can see my schedule at: If I could give advice to anyone attending their first conference, it would be this: divide and conquer! Find a friend who wants to go to the same sessions as you and share your notes! Send that friend to that mutual session, while you attend the one you want to go to. Or the converse – both of you attend the same session and just have fun.

Aside from the informational sessions, there are exhibit halls. As a “lowly” Library Clerk, there was really no need for me to meet vendors, as my librarians take care of all purchasing decisions. However, it’s fun to schmooze with them to get free swag! Oh, and also to learn about new products that could be useful in a library environment. But really, free swag!

The exhibit halls are also a great place to network. On the last day of the conference, after taking down my poster session, I wore my nametag and QR code (as seen in my author photo above). So many attendees came up to me to either ask what the QR code was or to scan my code. It was really an icebreaker and so easy to do.

My last suggestion is to attend any and all after hours events you can. For example, on the first night of CLA, my friends and I went out to a reggae night organized by a conference attendee. It allowed us to relax from the rush of the conference and to meet other attendees in a casual setting. Nothing like dancing and a drink to make everyone feel friendly.

Attending a conference as a student can seem like a scary proposition – you are surrounded by professionals with years of experience in the field, while you are just a “lowly” student. However, if you take full advantage of the conference, you will gain so much more out of it: fun times, new ideas and connections.

For a more thorough rundown of my experience at CLA, as well as to find out what sessions I ended up attending, please view my Rundown of CLA at

Andrew is in his last year at SJSU SLIS, and comes from UCLA with a BA in Sociology and a BS in Mathematics. He currently works for The Harker School, a private K-12 school in San Jose as one of their Library Clerks. The focus of his classes at SLIS have been upon technology, with special emphasis on emerging technologies.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. s.e.

    This article was very helpful and timely for me. After finishing my first year of classes I've decided that now is the time that I have to start going to professional conferences. I'm planning on attending the Society of California Archivists General Meeting here in San José. I'm planning on going to the ALA conference in New Orleans this summer. (I am thinking that I'll take the summer school class that is associated with going to the conference.) I also plan to go to the SAA annual meeting in Chicago in August. I won't be presenting at any of these conferences but I'd like to get a sense of how things work and then perhaps apply to present at conferences the next year.

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