ALA Tech Prep

I have for years done a little tech dance, trying to arrange the perfect combination of technology to do what I need to do at the American Library Association’s annual conference. I am a minimalist packer, so it should be just enough to do what I need and not an ounce more. The conference functions like an extremely long urban hike because of its size and how it tends to get laid out, but it’s also like a series of business meetings. My theory this year is that I will start from the assumption that I’m going to a couple of meetings rather than from the assumption that I’m a member of the tech press covering an Apple keynote. I have carried an eight pound laptop around ALA before. It is No Fun, plus adding an additional gadget to keep fed. Here’s my tech plan, which I’m writing down here so I don’t second-guess myself Wednesday night while I’m packing.

  • 2 reporter-style 4 x 8 notebooks
  • 1 Pilot G2 blue pen
  • 1 Pilot G2 mechanical pencil
  • Fisher Space pen
  • Business cards
  • Nexus 5
  • External USB backup battery
  • 2 micro-USB cables and 1 two-port charger
  • Apple bluetooth keyboard (so I can use the phone to blog if I am so inclined)

I can carry all but the last two on my person, thus getting rid of the need to carry around a backpack. To the extent possible, I can wander around Vegas like a human. When I’ve tried this for smaller conferences it has made a dramatic improvement to my mood and reduced nine kinds of worry (mostly about battery life and theft and where to put the bag during a reception).

Why no laptop?: if I need access to a computer, the chances I won’t be able to borrow one are slim. My hotel and the information center at the conference will have PCs I can borrow in the unlikely event my phone won’t let me do something.

Why those notebooks?: I may still talk myself into taking half a dozen Field Notes instead, but those reporter notebooks (from the awesome Bob Slate Stationers in Cambridge) are the perfect size and toughness. I can effortlessly use them at a table or in my lap and not worry about over or under-filling them. I’m not fussy about using them, and they’re cheap enough to be disposable, so the result is I actually fill them up.

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Boston area academic librarian and instructional designer. News junkie. Fan of marine mammals, October.