And now for the obligatory end of conference wrap-up post, as I have just returned from the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago, IL. I was very excited to attend this year’s conference, as a family obligation (my niece’s first birthday party) prevented me from going to Annual the last time it was in the Windy City (2009).
This was a different conference for me as I did not spend so much time in sessions as I did actually running sessions and other administrativa. It was still a productive and fun conference, nonetheless.
And so, with apologies to one of my favorite columns in the Sunday Seattle Times, here are my Rants and Raves, ALA Annual Edition
RANT. The shuttle buses. There were too few shuttle buses for too many librarians, more of whom were depending on the buses than in past conferences due to location of McCormick Place Convention Center vis-a-vis the conference hotels. They never seemed to run fast or frequent enough, and being stuck on the end of a route made it tough sometimes to get a bus – since they showed up at your door already full! I do realize that this infrequency was a cost-cutting move, and can respect that in tough economic times for the Association. I do wish more creative ways of making sure we all get to where we need to go, safely and on time, with little cost, could be found for the next Chicago meeting.
RAVE. ALA Conference Services. The week of the conference, these hardworking folk were thrown a curveball of amazing proportions – the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, and the victory parade was scheduled for the first day of conference right in the heart of the city. As a sports fan and someone who experienced a victory parade in her backyard not too long ago (Giants 2012 Super Bowl win), I could have cared less about the parade – but for some librarians, 2 million Blackhawks fans + 20k librarians = fate worse than death. Conference Services did a wonderful job keeping us updated as to contingency plans and taking an active role to make sure that we were all able to get where we needed to go.
RANT. Getting home from Chicago. My travel companion and I had a bit of a late night adventure getting home from the city, which you can read about here. I’m taking it as a sign that maybe I should not have left the city….
RAVE. ALA CraftCon. This was our fourth ALA CraftCon gathering, and my favorite thus far. I added three sessions to allow for more people to attend, and even did drop in “getting started with crafting online” sessions for people that wanted to craft but didn’t know where to start. I had great turnout all three days, even my “experiment” day (Saturday morning). There’s still some work that needs to be done – I have to emphasize the BYO Craft part, or possibly add some make and take crafts. (I got lucky on the last day when my friend Steve Teeri, who runs the Detroit Public Library HYPE Teen Center, left some paper crafts on Maker Monday!)
Getting our craft on Sunday Afternoon
RANT. My hotel. I know that I got what I paid for (which wasn’t much), but my hotel room was in a older building with an odd layout. The bed felt too large for the room, there wasn’t enough counter space, one elevator was out of service on the last two days of the conference, and the wifi had a very bad habit of not working. Spending less on the hotel meant I could stay in the city longer, but perhaps next time I will splurge more on the hotel and spend less time in the city. I shouldn’t have to mooch wifi off of the Hyatt across the street when I have it in my own hotel.
RAVE. The EveryLibrary Advocacy 101 session. EveryLibrary is the first, and only, library super Political Action Committee (Super PAC) in the nation. They provide tools for libraries to work most effectively with voters and elected officials to bring light to library issues – to build “financial and tactical support to ensure that local library initiatives pass at the ballot box.” Rather than fight our elected officials and the system, we can work with the system and our elected officials to make our voice heard – and EveryLibrary can help you do that. I don’t know why more people attended, because the advice John presented is extremely important.
EveryLibrary Executive Director John Chrastka
Some factors that motivate voters – including the weather!
And a final, but most important, RAVE. The people. The week of ALA, I was bullied by several librarians in an online Facebook group (the ALA Think Tank) all because I stepped in to say “hey, I don’t think this is appropriate” (this was on a post about hooking up in the Craigslist sense at conferences). My words were twisted and taken out of context, and I was forced to apologize – for what, I still do not know. As a result, I left the Think Tank – which made me sad because some people in there do great work, but I just couldn’t take the junior high, cool kids lunchtable, frat house attitude anymore. This bullying left me scared to go to ALA. I was willing to take a financial hit and cancel my entire trip, out of fear of the reception I would receive. Obviously, I didn’t go through with that plan – and I’m glad I did. The love I received from my fellow librarians made me feel so much better about my colleagues. From those who came up to me to say they were sorry to see what happened to me, to express support for taking the action that I did, even just to say hi and compliment me on my plethora of tiny hats – you don’t know how happy you made me feel. And for that, thank you – from the bottom of my heart.
See you at Midwinter in Philadelphia!