Headed to ALA Midwinter? Read This First!

Posted by AnneMarie Chambers


When we were coming up with our editorial list for January, we knew we wanted to do something to highlight ALA Midwinter. And then, after reading your tweets @ALAMW, we realized that the focus should be Chicago itself. What to wear? Where to eat? All of the important things!

Because I lived in Chicago for six years, the Evanced staff elected me to serve as our resident expert.

In those six years, I survived six brutal winters, missed countless buses and trains by mere seconds, walked miles without blinking an eye, fell on Michigan Avenue landing on the street with my skirt ALL the way up—making the Magnificent Mile even more “magnificent” for everyone else, ate some of the best food in my life, had brunches with friends that lasted through dinner, and found the love of my life. So, needless to say, Chicago brings back many hilarious, embarrassing, and warm memories for me and I hope that my stories or recommendations will help you have an amazing time in Chicago…even during the coldest month of the year!

So here is what I learned in my time in Chicago about: winter footwear, layering, chapped lips, food, bars and music, and a little more.


Leave the UGGS at Home

Now, I am talking solely from the position of function here. Winter in Chicago is full of slush, snow, and ice. Your ideal boots should be waterproof, warm, have great tread, and should be at least shin high. (However, with the Chicago wind, I think the higher the boot, the better!)

boot1I understand that the wedge boot is, technically, in and can be a great “all-weather” boot, but I just cannot get behind raised heels when there is moisture on the ground. (I learned this lesson the hard way and can’t tell you how many times I started conversations with my then boyfriend (now husband),“So… I fell again today.”)

Yes, there are $200-$300 amazing boots that guarantee to keep your feet warm and dry in -20 degrees Celsius. If you live in Chicago, you might invest in these. But for the show, to survive four or five days, I think you’ll be fine with a general rain boot with a warm liner or nicer winter boots, such as these…












“Long Underwear is for Tourists”

I can’t take credit for that awesome sub-headline. Thank you @CougarLibrarian and @Swerty for this one!
@Swerty is not leading you astray, ladies and gentlemen! It’s less about long underwear and more about true layering.

Now, I have to admit, I haven’t felt like much of a fashionista lately—having 2 kids in 22 months can do that to you!—but I do know winter in Chicago.

On the right you have winter in Chicago. And on the left? That is Chicago in mid-October or late March.

Fantasy vs Reality

Bring your warmest coat, hat, gloves, and scarf. If the weather is bad, you will likely only be able to see the eyes of passersby on the street. Scarves will be looped around their hats and hoods covering their necks, mouths, and noses. And, when the wind blows, your eyes will water. . . which reminds me, if you wear makeup, you might want to pick up some waterproof mascara, if you don’t already have it.

Underneath your coat, which should cover at least your rear, you can wear the adorable getup that our mid-October/late-March girl is wearing or whatever you need to wear to attend your meetings and presentations. By the way, ALA has said that coat check will be available at McCormick Place West. The coat check costs $3 per piece; so, don’t forget your cash!


lip_balmProtect your Lips!
I think it wasn’t until my third winter of dry, peeling lips that I finally went to the pharmacist desperately asking for help. I had tried every kind of ChapStick and lip gloss out there. (I rarely use lipstick, but that’s just me.) Anyway, nothing worked. Until that pharmacist directed me to Aquaphor. She said that it’s like petroleum jelly (or Vaseline), but better. And it was!!

I went into work the next day with healed lips and a new obsession. I was so excited that I was telling one of my supervisors about this new magical healing aid that I had discovered. She looked at the odd tube—which looked more like lotion than a lip aid—with a puzzled expression and said, “I think that’s what I use on my son’s diaper rash!”


Same stuff.

It is now almost 10 years later and I still use it daily. (And I, too, use if for my daughters’ diaper rash now. I just keep them clearly marked so there is no mistaking which Aquaphor is for lips and which is not.)

If you’d like to go with a classier, less odd-shaped container, you can go with the Aquaphor “Lip Repair.” However, I bought the lip repair last month, and it is just not the same. I find the Aquaphor “Healing Ointment” to be far superior to the latter. And, I promise, on the back of the tub, it clearly states that it helps relieve “chapped or cracked skin and lips”!

Where to Eat

Oh, I could go on for days about my old neighborhood joints—Angelina’s in East Lakeview (or Boystown for the locals) brings back the best memories for me! My husband still tries to recreate their Rigatoni Bolognese to this day to no avail.

However, with such limited time and the cost to cab up to the neighborhoods, it’s probably easiest to stay around downtown Chicago. AND Friday, January 30 just happens to be the kick-off of Chicago’s Restaurant Week!

As a part of Restaurant Week, select restaurants will be offering pre-fixed menus at discounted prices. For instance, Le Coloniel is a French Vietnamese restaurant in the Gold Coast. Appetizers range from $10-$14 and entrees start at $22 and go up to the extremely scary “market price.” However, during restaurant week, you can get an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $33 (tax and tip not included.) The regular menu is typically still available, too. This is just a fun way to check out some of the higher-end dining options. However, it may make getting into those already popular restaurants even harder. I recommend booking your reservations now, if you can.

To stay within walking distance or a short cab ride away from your hotel, I would consider restaurants in the following areas: Gold Coast, Loop, Magnificent Mile, Old Town, River North, and Streeterville.
However, the neighborhoods are where you’ll find the Chicagoans! My favorites are Bucktown/Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Old Town (it’s close enough to the Gold Coast to work on both lists), and West Loop. Lincoln Square and Andersonville are great, but they are at least a $40 cab ride each way from downtown.



Bars and Music

There is a bar on nearly every street corner in Chicago. They range from hole-in-the-wall classics like The Lodge in Streetersville to high-end wine bars like Enola Wine Bar in River North. They are easy to find and the concierge at the hotel will know all of the right spots to check out.
legendsAs for music, if you’re staying at the Chicago Hilton, I highly recommend going to Buddy Guy’s Legends. It is less than a block away from the hotel and it is iconic Chicago blues. It is a bit dingy and rough, so if that’s not your style, then there is always the House of Blues or B.L.U.E.S. They have a bit more shine to them than Buddy Guy’s.


Jazz is also a big thing in Chicago, but I personally only went to one jazz bar, The Green Mill. It is in the Andersonville neighborhood—so about a $40 cab ride each way. (Be advised: It is a serious jazz bar. I was asked to lower my voice on several occasions.)

For real jazz with a bit of Chicago history, The Green Mill is the place to go. Supposedly, it still has the underground tunnels that Al Capone used to get away from the cops. (Or is that just a rumor that I am flagrantly spreading? Hmmm.) Regardless of what the real history is, The Green Mill is a very cool place to listen to good jazz.


There are truly so many things to do in Chicago… Live improv sketches at Second City, drag queen shows at The Baton, drinks on 96th floor of the John Hancock Building, and so much more.

If you have any specific questions about restaurants or bars, please feel free to drop me a note in the comment section below or email hello@evancedsolutions.com. It has been a few years since I lived there, but I still have friends that live and breathe the Chicago pizza kitchens, breweries, and chocolate factories every day.


Don’t Forget the Evanced Booth!

As you might have guessed, we, too, will be at the ALA Midwinter show this year, so we hope to see you there! We’ll be at booth #4211, next to the Demco booth. And as a thank you to our customers, we have some cool, new swag that we think you’ll actually want to keep for yourself, rather than pass off to your kids or throw in your junk drawer!

We’ll be there to talk with current Events and Room Reserve customers about migrating to SignUp and Spaces—our newest event registration and room-booking software. And we’ll walk you through Wandoo Reader—our new, year-round reading program geared toward all age groups. It is simple to setup.

We’ll also be showing Brain HQ—our latest partnership that will enable your patrons to set up accounts and access personalized exercises to help them think fast, focus better, and remember more.

Also, you can join Matt Sheley and Lindsey Hill on Sunday morning as they talk about how digital reading platforms can motivate children to read more by keying into their interests in their session, “Robots, Superheroes, and Squirrel Missions: Conquer the factors affecting reading ability in school-aged children” at 10:30 a.m. in room W183c.

And as always, please feel free to leave any comments below. If you’d like to schedule a one-on-one demo of any of our products, send us an email at sales@evancedsolutions.com.

We hope that you all enjoy the show and have wonderful time in Chicago! Stay warm!!

6 Responses to “Headed to ALA Midwinter? Read This First!”

  1. Sharon Carvell

    Thanks for this great information – I was just thinking about wardrobe for the conference. This really helped in many ways!! Can’t wait to get to ALAMW 2015 & Chicago!!

  2. Krista

    Since I am coming down south from the Upper Peninsula, I will wear my late fall attire and leave my frigid weather stuff at home. LOL.

  3. Vivian

    Thanks so much for a great article and superb information. I might actually survive now……….


Leave a Reply