• JUser::_load: Unable to load user with id: 26047156

Turning the Page in Minneapolis: Day One

Editor's Note:  Jennifer Umbarger is the Teacher Librarian at Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham, NC and was the winner of the this year's NCSLMA's "First Time to AASL" Scholarship.  She will be blogging about her experiences as a first time attendee at the only national conference for school librarians.

Let me start this first post with a disclaimer: I am not a blogger!  In addition to the fact that I am new to the conference scene, I am new to blogging.  Sure, I utilize blogs with my students, and even have a blog of my own that I created as part of a technology challenge in our district.  But it has not become a habit for me.  As with everything, we improve with practice.  I don't anticipate becoming an expert blogger over the next few days, but I do hope to feel more comfortable sharing my thoughts, to stop wondering "who cares what I have to say?", and perhaps even have a new habit.

I can sum up my first day in one word: overwhelming!  I imagine this will be a running theme throughout the conference, but I'll just take it one day at a time.  

After winding my way through the skywalks from the hotel (great idea to be able to get virtually anywhere in the downtown area without even stepping foot outside!), I checked in at the conference registration desk and received a nice bag to add to my collection.  I figured this would be the first of many tote bags to come.  Prior to arriving, I had attempted to be organized and involved: downloaded the conference planner app and even added items to my agenda on the app; read and reread the article in Knowledge Quest "Conference-Going Strategies, Redux" (but still managed to forget the pre-printed mailing labels); and joined the Ning, just to name a few.  I was surprised to find that it was difficult to access all of these great tools.  Other than the Internet stations in the lobby of the Convention Center, we were informed in the program booklet that "free wireless access is based on a finite number of users, so please be considerate of other users and limit your time on the wireless network to 30 minutes per session".  Of course I could purchase access for a mere $14.95 per day.  I was reading this after finding out that there was a charge for Internet at the hotel as well.  Really?  I can go to my local Red Roof Inn and get free wireless for my $70/ night stay!  Ok, I'll stop.  Thank you for letting me vent!  (I can't promise this won't come up again, though!)

Anyway, I was finally able to access my email and verify the time that I would be meeting up with our very own Jennifer Northrup to watch her receive the Follett Challenge award.  Congrats to The Candid Librarian for winning $15,000 for her entry on "History Our Way" (  This announcement and celebration took place at the same time as the opening session, but from what I heard, I was  better off toasting Jennifer and the other winners with a little bubbly!

The next two hours were spent wandering aimlessly around the exhibit hall trying to enter every drawing and grab up all the freebies, followed by another hour of aimless wandering trying to find somewhere to eat.  I returned to the hotel, debriefed a bit with my great roommate Kelly Brannock, and tried to develop a plan for day two.  I am sure I still had a glazed-over look as my head hit the pillow--from being overwhelmed, not the champagne:-).

--Jennifer Umbarger
Share this post:

Comments on "Turning the Page in Minneapolis: Day One"

Comments 0-5 of 1

Deanna Harris - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hope you have a wonderful time at AASL! Glad you were able to attend the Follett announcement. Have fun! Posted on 10/29/2011 09:05

Please login to comment