Every year my preparations for going to the ALA Annual conference go through a series of stages. First, the "Oh, I guess I should buy a ticket and find a hotel room" stage, which fades into the "yes, I know it's coming, but there are still weeks to prepare" stage. Then at some point I start getting emails reminding me about this meeting, or that meeting, or I see a note somewhere about a program I really don't want to miss, and amidst all this I think "I should start planning my schedule."
Then, about a week before I leave, I actually try to do it.
This year, I'm over scheduled to the max, but the tools I used to find that out are the interesting part. A few weeks ago, as part of the experimental site YourBIGWIG, I put up a Google Calendar and asked anyone who wanted edit access to just let me know. I added everyone who asked...and we had a complete LITA schedule added to the calendar in hours. Every single program associated with LITA added to the calendar, public, and available for anyone to use to plan their conference (at least as far as LITA is concerned). Take a look at the way it works, then tell me that it wouldn't be great if every ALA division put one of these together. Here is it:
The other brilliant piece of the planning puzzle came via a great suggestion by our very own Cindi Trainor. She was frustrated with the available maps of the conference, as they didn't list a large number of restaurants and other things that might come in handy during our time in Anaheim. So she did something about it in the same sort of way I did the calendar. She turned to Google Maps, created a new map, and asked people to help her fill it in. A day or so later, we had this:
View Larger Map
Which turned out to be as detailed a map as I think you could get of the area as far as where things are that conference-goers need: hotels, convention center, restaurants. You can even click through to Google Earth if you want, and see the high-res satellite imagery so you know exactly how many streets are between you and that Indian restaurant you want to try.
So for those of you looking for some help planning your Anaheim trip, take a look at these two tools. Even if you aren't a LITA member, maybe you want to collaborate with friends to plan your schedules together...Google Cal will easily let you do that. Want to make sure that you can find a breakfast place that's equidistant between your and a friend's hotel? The Google Map will do that. Use these tools to make your visit to ALA Annual a good one. I'll see you there!