Like many people I have attended a number of conventions throughout my career. I have saved the name tags for many of the conventions I have attended. I have a nostalgia for these things. There is something memorable about attending professional conventions even if you are not part of the profession at the convention. Also, the name tags have little or no value in and of themselves.
Collecting name tags is like collecting free bookmarks, they are inexpensive, interesting, and bring back memories. People wax nostalgic about what they have done, even if it wasn't so great when they were doing it.
I keep them in a plastic ziplock bag. It is an old ziplock bag and does not preserve their condition. But, this is not why I am keeping the name tags. I am not thinking that my name tag collection will one day have astronomical value and be prized by collectors the world over.
I like going to conventions. I find them interesting. I will now name some of the convention name tags I have.
I attended my first library convention in 1991, I was a page working in the library as well as a college student. I know, it sounds funny, usually pages are often teenagers with acne. It was the California Library Association. I wasn't sure yet that I wanted to be a librarian. Being a page is a funny experience. You put books on shelves, pick up books off the tables and do little odd jobs for the librarians.
The next library convention I attended was in 1992 while I was volunteering at SPD-- Small Press Distributors in Berkeley, California. I wasn't in library school at the time. I went as an exhibitor with Small Press Distributors. I don't particularly remember the convention that well. All I know is that I have the name tag. I shelved the books in back at Small Press Distributors. I always have been good at shelving books. I tried to do the basic office work, but I really wasn't that good at it. I'm not the best at office work.
I didn't go to library school until 1993. At the end of library school, I attended library legislation day. I still have the name tag from Library Legislation Day in Penssylvania. I went to speak to Diane Feinstein and got to talk to her briefly about the importance of libraries. I remember being scared out of my pants and being very zealous at the same time.
In 1996, I went to the International Space Development Conference as an exhibitor, I was helping a small bookstore which has since folded. It was quite interesting. The best part was the astronomical art. You could get really beautiful photographs of space for very cheap.
I also have a button which simply says Exhibitor Mystery & Science Fiction Book Fair. I have no idea what the button is for. It is just a curiosity. I have been to lots of small book fairs. One of my favorite small book fairs was the paperback collectors association. They had a lot of old paperbacks. My favorite old paperbacks are the ACE doubles-- two science books in one printed in the 1960s.
The next convention button I have is from when I was working at an ISP during the internet boom. It was for PC Expo 2000. PC expo was very interesting. There was a ton of hardware and software, most of it didn't make much sense because it was during the internet boom. I remember wandering around the Jacob Javits Convention Center and thinking how humongous the place was. Also during 2000, I went to Internet World. This was a weird experience, there was a lot of experimental stuff for the time, micropayment systems, online photo sites, and a lot of stuff that never saw the light of day.
My next button is from 2005, it is for Book Expo America, the largest book exposition in the country. I went as a librarian. It was a lot of fun to go and look at the different publishers.
I am going to the New York Comic Con in April 2008 as a professional. They give free passes to professionals. If you are a librarian who is interested in comic books or graphic novels this is a lot of fun to attend. Like Book Expo America, you can get a lot of freebies to bring back. They also give out lots of little knick knacks, book marks, pens, and other things. You get to see a lot of the professional comic book artists. They had panels for librarians on manga, anime, and graphic novels in the library.
When I go to conventions I usually plan a little bit beforehand. I get a floor map of the exhibits and circle which exhibitors I am goint to look at and ask my colleagues if there is anybody they would like to me look at. I also plan which panels I am going to watch in advance. I try to go in early the first day so I can get an idea of what the convention will be like. I always like to check to see if there is a restaurant near the convention before I go in. Convention food prices are always too high except for the reserved areas with coffee and bagels for attendees. I also pick up a lot of stuff. The stuff I don't want, I'll leave for my colleagues to look at sometimes. I'm often asked to summarize what I learned at the panels so I take a notepad and pen with me.
I try and walk the whole convention floor so I can see all the exhibitors, even if only for a brief time. Sometimes, I'll collect business cards just to have them. I also try and get to the more popular panels about an hour early. There have been a few times where I still haven't been able to go in and see the speakers.