Moderator: Ann Coder, Library Services Manager, Brookhaven College
Speaker: Linda McCann, Director of Library Services, Bucks County Community College
Probably had something interesting to say, but her phone connection was so awful I tuned it out. Plus, I hate the “let me tell you useless stats about my institution” portion that for some reason people think is important to include in every presentation about something they did at their library.
In summary, they got rid of formats and collections that are no longer needed and converted the space into a popular (and apparently award winning) learning commons.
Speaker: Denise Repman, Dean of Library Services, Delgado Community College
Oy. Sound not much better on this one. Maybe it’s ALA’s connection? In summary: something something something new library buildings.
Speaker: Theresa C. Stanley, Library Director, Pima Community College
Still crappy sound. In summary: they had to reduce their collection by 30%, so they removed duplicates and content no longer relevant to their current programs. Kept notes in a wiki and used a shared calendar to schedule the project, which is probably a good idea.
I should present more.
That’s what I have concluded at the end of this conference. There were a few sessions I was jazzed to see, and some others that surprised me, but for the most part, I found myself too often realizing that if I had done a bit of research on my own, I would have known about as much about a session topic as the presenters. Those tended to be the sessions in which I stuck around for the intro and then left, or looked at the slides in advance and decided to go to something else.
While I may be learning about a lot of new tech and ideas outside of the ITI conferences, there is nothing to replace the “lobbycon” aspect of theses events. The connections I have made with other folks who are as equally excited about pushing libraries forward is well worth the price of admission, in my humble opinion. ITI conferences are my equivalent of going to ALA, and very few folks I know talk about going to ALA for the presentations.
I may joke about the “beer track” at conferences, but the reality is that as much as I may advocate for virtual attendance and online communities, they can’t replace the connections (serendipity, perhaps?) of real-time, face-to-face interactions.
Sorry, not a very descriptive title, is it?
I’m feeling slightly less ambivalent about getting involved with ALA than I did a year ago. Mainly, that is because if the awesome LITA people I meet at Annual in June. Despite that, it still took me until yesterday to remember that I needed to renew my lapsed membership. Whoops.
I ended up deciding to join LITA, and since my professional focus currently resides with the Serials Section of ALCTS, I ended up dropping ACRL. Even so, my membership cost more than $200. For one year. Yeouch. The sad thing is that I’m not sure I’ll have much energy left to get my $200 worth out of it. We’ll see.
This leads me to a question I have been pondering for a bit. I’ve been thinking about my career and where I’d like to eventually end up, and I’m thinking more and more that I want to be in a smaller university or college library where the emphasis is on being librarians and less on being tenure-track faculty. The pros are that I would be able to stop worrying so much about publications and be able to focus on my strengths like being a (freakin’ awesome*) serials & electronic resources librarian and serving in various professional organizations as well as campus committees. The cons are that I probably won’t have as much support for attending conferences and likely the salary scale would be lower.
So, the question I’m pondering is whether ALA is worth being a member of if one cannot participate on committees because one cannot afford to attend all of the conferences?
* Sorry. I don’t know where that came from. Must be the result of reading two years of Questionable Content strips over the past few days.
How much swag is too much swag?
I arrived in Seattle yesterday around noon, thankfully without incident. I opted for taking the shuttle rather than taking my chances that the pass would be okay both going and returning. Plus there’s the whole finding and affording parking in downtown Seattle.
After getting checked into my hotel room, I went up to the convention center and picket up my badge holder and packet. ALA has got this conference thing down to a science, it seems. I haven’t been to an ALA conference since 2002, and I had forgotten how organized it is. The signage is very helpful and well placed.
My first official event was the Innovative Users Group meeting. The first part was all about the upcoming IUG meeting in Chicago, which I’m not attending, so it wasn’t of much interest. I took that time to make use of the free wifi and catch up on email. After that, Dinah Sanders did a presentation about III’s upcoming “discovery services platform” called Encore. It looks really good – lots of Library/Web 2.0 widgets done in a helpful and tasteful way. It’s not meant to be a replacement for the OPAC, just a different layer for delivering resources for basic information needs. Seems like something public and undergraduate libraries would find very useful, if they can afford to purchase the product. Knowing the pricing that tends to come with these things, it may take a while for it to catch on, no matter how cool (and useful) it may be.
After that, I attended the author’s forum. It featured three science fiction and fantasy authors talking about the rise of sf/f since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They all agreed that the premise of the talk is a bit off, since sf/f was already on the rise when that happened, but that world events leading to the attacks and the rise in popularity of sf/f are linked. Two good reasons are that sf/f presents a relatively non-threatening way of discussing current problems and possible solutions, and that readers are able to escape (in a good way) for a little while to a world where at some point there will be a resolution of something. Of course, depending on the series and author (*cough*Robert Jordan*cough*) that resolution may not come at the end of the book.
The grand opening of the vendor hall followed the author’s forum. This was yet another ALA conference — specifically ALA midwinter conference — event that I was not prepared for. Apparently this is a free-for-all get as much swag as you can while chowing down on the finger food event. I now know to leave the laptop in my room along with my heavy winter coat before embarking on that quest. By the time my group was ready to go to dinner, I was dragging from the weight in my bag, and I really didn’t take much of the swag.
There will be free wireless access in the conference center for ALA Midwinter attendees. Of course, being in Seattle, it would be simple to find a café with free wireless if one needed it.
I’m going to ALA Midwinter this year, and it will be the first ALA conference I have attended since the 2002 Annual. Is it normal for them to be so late in getting the Event Planner up? I’ve been checking it periodically since I registered, and every time the message is some variation of “coming soon.” At the moment, it says, “We are currently preparing the Planner for release, and will post the link this week.” I think it said that last week, too. Nice how they didn’t put a firm date or anything useful.
Yet another reason why the ALA website sucks ass.
I browsed through the logical locations on the ALA website trying to find an estimate of the number of current members. After about five minutes that included a few Google searches, I came up with nothing. Then I checked the Wikipedia page for ALA, and there it was. I don’t know if it’s right, but it looks good enough for my purposes. Thanks, Wikipedia!
Coolness. ALA Midwinter has a wiki! I’ve already added one item about Seattle. For some reason, this wiki is the tipping point that has allowed me to become excited and looking forward to Midwinter. I haven’t looked forward to an ALA conference since my first and only one in 2002. I guess I finally drank the koolaid.
I promise to get back to writing up my thoughts on the NASIG conference. It’s been a busy two weeks. As you can see, I ran out of what I had written while at the airport and I haven’t had the energy or time to get back to it.
Meanwhile, I read Karen’s thoughts on the latest Gormangate episode, and they became the final tipping point in a decision I’ve been trying to make. As a result, I bring you my open letter to ALA, which I also sent to them by email this afternoon:
Some years ago, I let my membership lapse because my income and expenses were such that I couldn’t afford to continue it. Since that time, I have found myself in a better paying job and I have been thinking about re-joining the association. However, I have been unimpressed by president-elect Michael Gorman and the anti-technology, anti-progress statements he has been making publicly in the past several months (re: bloggers, Google Print, etc.). Since he is the future leader of the association, I have to wonder if ALA is right for me.
I have concluded that if the majority of members would choose a leader who prefers the past to the present, much less the future of librarianship, then it’s not an organization that I need to be a part of. For now, I will participate professionally in other areas of librarianship, and perhaps reconsider membership in the ALA sometime after Gorman’s tenure.
Another librarian not going to ALA.
Jessamyn won’t be at ALA this week, either. And I thought I was the only one who wouldn’t be at the party.