Well, I just got back from the American Library Association's 2011 New Orleans Conference and boy is my drinking arm tired. New Orleans welcomed the library community with open arms and the library community responded in kind. So let us delve into this exciting and wondrous event that was ALA 2011.
I know what the people want so let's just put it on front street, or "rue el fronto" as the locals say. Seriously, there was so much partying, dancing, and goings-on that you would have thought a dentist hygienist convention was going on. But that's the point of a convention in New Orleans. Nothing too untoward was released to the public, so let's keep it that way. It's not like there was a robot that got taken out for a night, right?
|You don't want to know how he got those beads and hat.|
Possibly the biggest complaint about the conference was the lack of wifi at the convention. To be true, the annual conference from one of the most forward thinking professions lacking a basic function that our national parks system can handle is a little sad. But that's accentuating the negative. The conference also had these cool key cards that you could swipe at booths instead of passing out business cards. Mine stopped working after a day.
|It also doubled as a hotel keycard for then entire city! I watched people sleep!|
I can't speak for all the panels (pun intended) because I only went to a couple because I had and "Exhibit Only" badge which means I had to crash. Which, honestly, was not that hard. Come to think of it, they only ever checked my badge at the exhibit entrances. Huh. Anyway, the panels I did go to were all about good speak and forward thinking. One in particular was a library of the future one with Orson Scott Card, Bill Willingham, and other sci-fi writers although come to think of it they mostly talked about copyright and stuff. It was good. Thought about asking about how Card felt about the New York gay marriage decision, but I felt that might have derailed it a bit.
|My favorite panel. It was all fun.|
Here we go into the meat and potatoes of the convention: The people who give us stuff! The swag merchants were out in force from the automated book thingies to the chair folk right on down to the database mages. Every corner of librarianship stuff was represented, and all of them had stuff to take. Often you would have to sit through a 10 minute talk to get a t-shirt, but if you put your business card in a fishbowl you might win a Nook or something. It was all very exciting. Special mention to the guy who did magic and the people with the smoothies. We may never know who you worked for.
|Some set up faster than others. This was at 6ish on Friday.|
I saw at least 4 people getting their arms reattached in the first aid area from collecting books in bags and hanging them off their shoulders. The swag collecting was intense and diverse. But can we talk about one thing? The Red "I am a librarian from out of town mug me and over charge me, please" Bags. All you who were there know what I mean.
|All tote bags should have fighter jets on them.|
Hellz yeah! This is New Orleans, the center of Cajun cooking! Crawdads, gumbo, benya... beinge... those awesome pastries with the powdered sugar! And what did most people eat? Food court food. Seriously, the only place within walking distance of the convention center was the crap in the convention center itself. We could not find a couple sponsors willing to put authentic local cuisine? Whatever, I am sure most had the other major food group in New Orleans. Alcohol.
|This is half the line for fairly dry roast beef sandwiches. Spot the Red Bags.|
Secret parties. Dancing and carrying on. I really can not talk about it too much. My call sign was Albatross.
|We got dangerous.|
Someone on twitter asked what our favorite moment of ALA 2011 was. I responded "Walking on the floor first and seeing a sea of inspired, wonderful librarians sharing and having fun." That's the truth. With all the problems and jokes, I met so many people that were excited about our future. Before this convention, the best I could say about the library's future in society is "I hope." After this trip, that hope is invigorated.