Last year, I went to my first ALA Conference, which was also my first library conference ever. Before going, I really had no idea what to expect. So I had to make my own mistakes – going to the wrong room when the location of a session had changed that very day, not bringing a big enough bag, accumulating too many free books, not realizing how far apart some of the hotels were, etc. I didn’t really know what Orlando had to offer other than the theme parks, so I ended up eating at some pretty awful restaurants. Looking back, I definitely think I could have gotten more out of the conference (and out of Orlando) had I known what I know now.

So this year the conference is in my newly adopted home city. I’m no expert on Chicago, having only lived here for 2 1/2 months, but I thought I could certainly create a webpage with links to useful websites so that people could find great stuff to do in the city. So I started compiling a list of useful websites about Chicago. Then I started thinking that a wiki would be the perfect format for a guide to the ALA Conference. People who know Chicago can recommend great places to eat and visit. ALA Conference veterans can offer useful information for people attending their first conference. Special events – blogger dinners, Dine-arounds, meetings with free food – can be publicized. Everyone can contribute to it so it will bring together our collective knowledge of ALA and Chicago.

I’ve been wanting to create a wiki for a while and found that MediaWiki is amazingly easy to set-up and use. So, with my wonderful husband’s help, I created the wiki and started entering some useful information about Chicago. It’s by no means complete, so I need your help!

If you’re planning on going to the ALA Conference this June, visit the ALA Chicago 2005 Wiki. And if you have any insights or recommendations to make, please add to or edit the wiki. I know a lot bloggers and librarians live in or near the Chicagoland area, so I’m sure we can create a fantastic guide for people who’ve never been here before.

For those visiting the Windy City for the first time, do try and see more of the city than just the McCormick Center and your hotel. Chicago is a friendly city and it’s easy to get around. I know the Conference itself can be kind of overwhelming, but Chicago really has amazing museums, architecture, restaurants, and music venues – something for everyone.

So please contribute to the wiki and ask your friends to contribute as well. I’ll certainly be at the ALA Conference and I can’t wait to meet some of my readers and the bloggers I’ve been reading (and admiring) for so long! And maybe it will finally be warm in Chicago by then. We actually had flurries for a little while this afternoon!!!