Here I am in lovely Atlanta Georgia with about, oh, 250-300 librarians from around the country (but mostly from surrounding southern states), soaking up information, listening to authors and meeting and networking with each other. Wow!
ALSC hosts a regional institute every two years somewhere around the country where ALA conferences seldom if ever meet: Salt Lake City; Minneapolis; here in Atlanta. It gives members from this region a chance to enjoy top-rate programming and mingling with folks from around the country. We have a plethora of programs: Digital Natives; Transforming Gamers to Readers; Creating Diversity in Collections; Creative Partnerships; Collection Development and a chance to listen to book creators talk about their work and the future of the book and print in a rapidly changing technological environment.
For me, it is like a balm. So much of my time at conferences is involved in behind-the-scenes committee work, that I seldom get to just absorb and learn. The programs here have been excellent and thought-provoking. My batteries are re-charged and I am learning lots from conversations at meals and in the hallways to take home and try.
If you start saving pennies now, you will be ready to join the next Institute crowd in two years in Indianapolis (I think). I am going to do the same. By that time, I'll be ready for another energy re-charge. I hope you can join me there!