ALA Midwinter – 10 Things

Libraryman went to this year’s ALA Midwinter Conference and all you got was this lousy “10 Things” blog post.

This was a unique conference for me personally, with exposure to an unusually large number of new people, events and situations. Some events were things that I had *heard* happened, but had never been invited to before. Others were work realated. Many were general events that were simple unmissable. I continue to be deeply grateful for some of the kind invitations and warm welcomes received at this conference. It was exhausting, exciting and invigorating. I should go to bed, but though it best to write these observations down before I turn in. Here goes!

1. Yeah, yeah, you already know this, but it’s still true; the best thing about every library conference is our community. With few exceptions, the opportunity we have to reconnect and catch up with old friends, make new friends and learn from fellow professionals is worth the money, time and effort.
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2. Seattle, I love you. You are pretty and have amazing food. Sure, you’re a bit expensive, but this is a case of getting what you pay for. I really hope most of you enjoyed Seattle and had good experiences with the city.
Seattle: Sound, Ferry, Needle, Mountains, Downtown
3. If you get an invite to a Gates Foundation party, go. These parties have a relaxed yet sophisticated and celebratory air that is difficult to match. Plus their food is the best you’ll find at just about any conference (or restaurant for that matter).

4. If you get invited to any other fancy parties, the kind you knew happened, but hadn’t been invited to in the past, follow your instincts regarding picture taking. I was not an aggressive picture taker at most events and even left the camera at home for a few shin-digs.

5. Most of the people in Libraryland that act like they are your friend really are your friend. Conferences provide on of the best opportunities to see these friendships in action. They will demonstrate this to you over time with things like:
-Uncontrollable smiles.
-Heartfelt group hugs given without any sense of irony.
-Invites to events you didn’t even know were held and certainly weren’t listed in any brochure I’ve ever seen (wait, we already talked about that, didn’t we?).
-Phone calls and text messages at odd hours from old friends and former coworkers attempting to meet up for at least a few minutes during impossibly packed days and nights.
-Knowing glances across the room that say “I know your tired, hang in there” or “We aren’t going to have time to talk, but what I really want to do is have more time and energy so we could talk until we were all caught up”.

5. I’ll bet most people here already know this, but most of the folks that are, have been or are upcoming ALA Presidents have amazing stamina and really, truly care about “our” business. They aren’t superstars, aren’t usually diva’s (or Devo‘s ;) they just are librarians (mostly) like us. They are often somewhat over achieving librarians with amazing political skills, connections, achievements and personality, but they really are just “one of us”.

6. This is easy since we library folks do a good job of this for the most part already. But …always try to be genuine and honor the attention people give you. The people saying nice things to you and trying to talk to you are just exactly as important and special as you are. If a librarian bothers to try to meet you, meet them! I know some folks have felt sad after they were brushed off by people of “importance”. That is SO not cool. Though developing a thicker skin is probably a good idea, respect is the best idea (something I am working on myself, the thick skin especially;).

7. Fred Kilgour was given a tribute that was respectful, appropriately irreverent at times and moving. Many of his quotes inspire me the exact way conversations with some of my closest library friends do. I’d say it even if MPOE (did I get the right, Karen?) wasn’t tied with the org he founded. If you haven’t seen it, look up some of his stuff. Or you could just look up a book in your library catalog. That book info you find there is pretty much there because of his work.

8. Gaming is one of the best things I’ve ever seen happening at a booth. At any conference. Nice work ALA TechSource (and Jenny). 1. David Lee King and I rock out with the “Guitar Hero” video game. 2. Jenny works hard, man. 3. Check out Rosario from MCLS playing DDR! She was good too!
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9. You can sleep some other time. Though it seems that if you’re just going to an early session for free breakfast and don’t care about the session at all, why not just sleep a bit longer? You’ll have more energy later in the evening to put towards talking, dancing, drinking…or all three! *#9 was given to me during a conference conversation. I’m all for free breakfast, don’t get me wrong.*

10. If you are at all nervous about seeing someone from your past, there is a three times greater statistical chance you will run into that person. Seriously, I saw the mathematical formula for this once in college. It’s an ugly formula too. Lots of conversion and carrying of ones. Of course, I’m happy to see everybody all the time, so this couldn’t possibly apply to me personally…

There you have ‘em, ten observations from the 2007 ALA Midwinter Conference in Seattle. Hope to see you this summer at Annual and at next years Midwinter.

PS- Walt was a good sport, but Andrea put me up to it, I assure you. *Taken at the blog salon mentioned in the preceeding post*
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