ala annual, part two — washington, d.c.

The Blog Salon was definitely the highlight of the social events at ALA. I met a few new interesting folk, as well as got to chat with a few folks I had met previously.

I had an illuminating conversation with an advocate for games in libraries who gave me a different perspective of gamer society, particularly how casual games fit in. My skills with the console and arcade games of the 80s and early 90s were rudimentary at best, and I haven’t tried anything since then. He let me play a basic game on his portable game device that was fairly simple to pick up and learn without instructions. Sure, the first person shooters and “twitch” games, as he called them, are quite popular, but “casual” games have been booming as well.

Come to think of it, thanks to Blogcritics, I’ve had a chance to play with and review a few casual games over the past year, and by his definition, that makes me a gamer. Weird. Anyway, it has me thinking of how we could use games as a way of making the library a friendlier place for our students, and what kinds of games would work with some of the general education curriculum.

Rochelle Hartman's stickerEventually I made my way from the Blog Salon down to the 3M/NMRT social. The sight that greeted me as I entered the ballroom left me speechless — approximately forty librarians and others on the dance floor doing the electric slide, which devolved into a dance line that wound around the room. Clearly, I had partaken too much of the free beer and cheese at the Blog Salon! Or perhaps not enough, since I was completely unmotivated to join them. I wasn’t there long before I ran into an old friend, as well as a new one that I had met the other night. We proceeded to have a great time watching (or in their case, participating in) the dancing until the social started to wind down.

Many thanks again to Mr. Aaron Dobbs, who was kind enough to chauffeur several of us home that night. He is definitely a very cool guy and ranks high on my list of people who deserve a gold star for awesomeness.

I was up a little late on Monday morning, but still arrived in time for a relatively close seat for Julie Andrews speech/presentation/event thingy. As Cognotes put it, she “left her fans wanting more.” I was a bit disappointed by how briefly she spoke. A good five minutes or more was spent on an introductory video with great clips from her stage and screen performances, but it didn’t make up for the brevity of her talk, considering that it ended 45 minutes earlier than scheduled. Maybe my expectations were too high. Still, it was Julie Andrews! Squee! (Down, fangirl, down!)

After that session, I went down to the expo hall to give it another go to kill some time before my afternoon meeting. I left there in plenty of time to get to my meeting, or so I thought, but it turns out I read the program wrong and went to the wrong hotel. The one I should have gone to was near the convention center, and by the time I got back, the meeting was wrapping up. But, my fellow committee members were kind enough to give me a recap so it wasn’t a total loss.

By then, I was feeling pretty wiped out, so I hopped on the metro and went back to my friend’s apartment for some down time. Later that evening we found an Ethiopian restaurant nearby and had a very tasty dinner. It was K’s first time to have Ethiopian, and he was very cautious at first, but quickly got into it. I think it helped that the dish he ordered was spiced hot enough for his liking. The restaurant was quite different from others I have eaten in. It was partially a bar, and partially a lunch diner. Two television sets were showing two different channels — one tuned to soccer and the other to news — and over the sound system played the questionable hits of the 80s and 90s. You know, the kind of songs that wouldn’t have been popular if something better had been released in the same week.

Tuesday was another early morning, and again I arrived in time for a decent seat at the 8am closing session featuring Garrison Keillor. Always a pleasure to hear him speak. After that I toyed with the idea of going to a museum, but instead I decided to check my email and wander the vendor hall until the busses started taking folks to Library Day on the Hill. It was a scorcher, and I earned a few blisters on my feet from the walking around in damp socks, but it was very cool to be in the D.C. offices of my Senators and Representative.

And, thus ended the ALA portion of my trip. I thought about going to the after hours gathering at a local pub, but the heat had drained me of energy, so once again I returned to my friend’s apartment.

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