Only a few short hours remain before the exhibit hall opens, and I have some insider tips from exactly one year of experience.

On swag: I love novelties of all kinds. I love pens, buttons, stickers, stress balls shaped like
Iibrary stuff. But, I flew to Boston with a carry on. If you’re like me, you have a few options. You can limit yourself (and indeed, there is an ethical argument to be made for accepting less vendor swag). You can ship your stuff home at the FedEx location inside the Hynes Convention Center. Or, you can get a flat rate box from the Post Office inside the Pru and ship your stuff home for cheap.

On chatting to vendors: Lots of booth babes and bros are perfectly lovely people. Others are most definitely salespeople. If you find yourself stuck with a used car salesman style vendor, especially because they see a big name library on your badge, just say that you have no purchasing power and walk away. They’re doing their job, and you’re allowed to be left alone to do yours. No hard feelings.

On drink tickets: You’re grown people, I don’t need to tell you not to get trashed at a professional networking event. Right? Do that with your new friends at a non-conference bar later on, away from your boss, or anyone who might hire you.

On business cards and such: This is a good time for all of that. I keep mine in the back of my badge so I can pull them out in short order (and not out of my non-existent pockets, or somewhere less savory like my bra).

Don’t forget, the exhibit hall will be open for the rest of the conference. You don’t have to see it all today. Relax, enjoy, pace yourself, and stock up on ink pens for the next year.