Posted by: Maria | June 22, 2008

getting ready for ALA annual

So, in a few days, I fly out to California for the ALA annual conference in Anaheim. This is my second annual conference experience. My most memorable experiences from the 2007 conference are related mainly to socializing and alcohol consumption and navigating the Metro.  I did manage to work in a session or two, of course, but to be honest, I left the conference wanting more. I’d say that about half the panels I attended were not that impressive. Some were downright disappointing and awful. Some panels I wanted to attend but didn’t, because I was at a session immediately before it, and it was a 10 minute walk to the other hotel location, and by the time I got there, the room was packed, people sitting and standing cheek-by-jowl. Some panels were actually really good and interesting, and those sessions were usually ones that had more to do with Big Thinking and Big Ideas and less to do with Hey, Let’s Play Video Games In The Library, or Hey, Let’s Attach Ourselves To The Latest Technological Trend Without Thinking About It Critically And Regardless Of Its Usefulness To The Actual Work Of Libraries.

I don’t have high hopes for this year’s annual conference. I have picked out a bunch of sessions I want to go to, and maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. And given the relative paucity of sessions related to things I’m interested in, both this year and last year, I’m not entirely certain that the ALA annual conference is the best conference for me and my professional needs and interests. Still, I’m going anyway, because I’m willing to give the conference another shot, and anyway, its geographic location is a good one for me.

My goal for this conference is to 1) go to sessions that I want to go to, not ones I think I should go to, 2) try to learn some new things, 3) meet other people who do what I do and who also approach their work with a similar critical perspective, and 4) have a swell time.



  1. yes yes yes to these wonderful tips, Maria. I’m also going to try to plan a conference schedule that reflects ALL of my interests, not just a couple. Last year I focused very heavily on connecting with librarians with similar social and political leanings (GLBTRT, SRRT, PLG). This year, I’m still going to find folks in those groups and spend time in those meetings, but I’m also going to pay equal attention to the professional interests: library instruction and emerging technologies. Like many of us, I bet, this is more than a job for me–it’s practically my life! So balancing the range of interests I bring to the field is going to be My Big Challenge this coming weekend. Big thanks to the Event Planner for making this possible!

  2. Oh, yes, A+++ to the Event Planner. I, too, am trying to balance both professional and personal interests. The hardest thing is having to make a choice when there are two or more sessions of interest in the same time slot. I’m adding them all to my itinerary and will trust that I can make the decision when I get there.

    This is most definitely more than a job to me, too. Being a librarian and doing librarian-y things is a whole way of life for me.

  3. Wish i was going, what I enjoyed was hearing so many authors read and getting all the free books and oh yes, the highlight, totally freaky, bumping into Maria! Or was that BEA? And then we met up on purpose at ALA! Whatever, that was fun!

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