Professional Development

Lauren P. at ALA Part 2

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 11:02 am

A hurt neck kept me from lugging my laptop around combined with a lack of reasonably priced internet anywhere near my hotel kept me off the “real” internet for much of the conference. This was the first ALA I have attended where there were days that I didn’t carry a computer, and it made for a slightly different experience. I engaged in Twitter on my phone a bunch more, and I interacted on Facebook, took notes on paper, but I didn’t have hardly any opportunities to blog. Very strange for me! But instead of pushing out information about the conference, I feel that I participated in many more conversations, and that’s something I’d like to be sure to do at future conferences.

To pick up where I left off, Saturday was a real LITA day for me. I attended the BIGWIG meeting physically for the first time. This is a group of LITA that formed around blogs, interactive groups, and wikis (hence the name), but now mostly experiments with emerging social technologies and acts as a test bed to pilot new tools. Many of us were new to the meeting group, but have been participatory online, so it was nice to put some faces with some names and connect with people I’ve been following. (…both literally and figuratively!)

Next up I had the LITA Web Coordinating Committee. I’m midway through my term in this group, and our charge is to work on the LITA website. As you might know, ALA recently went through a redesign, and LITA is following with a similar information architecture. It was especially interesting in light of the web group at ZSR, and gave me lots of food for thought.

After that, Kaeley and I met up with Susan at the Art Institute for the ProQuest VIP Reception and the Scholarship Bash. We ran into Debbie Nolan and were able to catch up a bit with her, we had some food, saw some art, and it was a good time. I was able to meet up with some of my online colleagues as well to hammer out a bit of business among the fun.

I didn’t go to my 7:30 breakfast on Sunday (trying to give my neck a little rest), and instead went to the exhibits at 9:00 to get a chance to see things before my signing. When I got to my booth I saw Sarah right away! Sarah, Carolyn, Lynn, Bill, Susan, Roz, and Kaeley were the ZSR crew that came by, and a few others, too. It was nice to get a chance to talk with Rory, my editor, now that the project is complete.

My next meeting was the Emerging Leaders Subcommittee. Assuming the HRDR committee chair decides to appoint me, I might have the opportunity to participate in this group to help make the Emerging Leaders program better. It was fascinating to hear the behind the scenes discussion, and I was pleased to hear the ’09 class had an improved experience over what much of the ’08 class remembers. I am hopeful that this program is one that improves each year.

I raced away from that meeting to meet Kaeley at the LITA President’s program. The program was about the Dutch Boys at DOK.

They’re a fascinating trio and I really recommend checking them out. They recently released a book on their USA library tour if you’re interested in more. The Twitter backchannel was particularly fun and lively throughout the session discussing (among other topics) can you train people to be innovative and how do you know if people you’re hiring will be innovative? Following the LITA session, Kaeley and I met up with Roz, her sister, Susan, Carolyn, and Sarah for a nice Italian ZSR Dinner.

Monday morning was my first day that wasn’t scheduled from start to finish. I was hoping for lots of serendipitous meetings and I wasn’t disappointed. My first session was to see Roz present her paper, but I got to the convention center pretty early. Luckily I ran into someone I know from the ’07 Emerging Leaders class who is also really involved in LITA. We swapped stories and found out more about what we both actually do and what our libraries are like. Our work is similar enough that I really hope that we’ll be able to collaborate on something sometime soon.

Roz’s paper was an interesting comparison of subject guide software. I found the ACRL geared presentation interesting in light of similar LITA discussions. The subject is the same, but the approach, perspective, and decision making is a little bit different. It was good stuff, and LibGuides is clearly a hot topic for a lot of libraries.

Susan, Roz, Kaeley, and I ended up at LITA’s Social Software Showcase next. This year was a bit different from years past. The program finally had a room big enough for the number of people interested in attending, but the furniture wasn’t set up particularly well for the interactive nature of the program. They rolled with it, and the overall responses were great. I was particularly glad to catch up with several online friends at the session, and we ended up having a surprise social software showcase of our own involving Google Voice, a “hackintosh,” and brainstorming about how the program could work.

Some of that group, Kaeley, and I found a little Italian/pizza place near the convention center, so we were able to grab something to eat and catch up before the Ultimate Debate program. This is the program that a few others have blogged about: David Lee King, Meredith Farkas, Michael Porter, and Cindi Trainor were on the panel and Roy Tennant moderated. It was a fun session and it’s always nice to get a chance to see everyone in real life and see folks actually interact.

One of my library/facebook friends was organizing a vegetarian dinner, so we had an adventure of a time finding a place and eventually ended up at the very yummy Chicago Diner. Of the six of us I hadn’t met any of of my fellow diners face to face before. One I interact with online (it was her birthday), two I knew of–and have been impressed with–from their online presence, and two were entirely new to me. It was great fun and really enjoyed the conversation. The day wrapped up with a great conversation on the walk back to the hotel and a bit of getting ready for the last day.

Sunday kicked off with my last meeting of the conference and my last meeting on the committee. I am finishing up my term on the Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship with this conference. It’s been a wonderful committee to serve on and it’s hard to believe that it’s been four years. More than anything, I learned about how ALA actually functions from serving on this committee. We wrapped up some business, I helped out a little with the new ALA Connect, and with that my conference was over.

With this conference, my terms on COSWL and the Women’s Studies Section Instruction Committee both end. I had later appointments to a few LITA groups, so that’s carrying me forward to the next conference. Over the last four years I’ve learned a lot about ALA from COSWL and WSS, but I have also learned that you have to really focus on one or two aspects of ALA if you want your energy to make an impact. I am choosing to focus my energy on LITA. I really feel that there is potential to make positive change there that can provide real-world examples to ALA about some of the changes that might make the larger association more relevant in the 21st century. (That’s my soapbox, at least. :) ) I might focus on Emerging Leaders as a secondary area since positive work there will influence people who will potentially be in positions to make change within the larger organization.

This ALA had been a particularly good on for me. It was great fun to room with Kaeley and to see so much of the ZSR group along the way. The preconference went really well, my discussion group had great conversations, and the booksigning wasn’t even too stressful! But even more importantly, it’s been filled with great conversation and great people and I’m feeling more reenergized than I have been in some time.

3 Responses to “Lauren P. at ALA Part 2”

  1. I love the Dutch Boys photos. How cool with the playstations, music listening “pods” and great open spaces. But i think checking out works of art is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

  2. Wow- I esp. jealous of being in the Art Institute-an art gallery I’ve never visited but always heard raves about. I also enjoyed reading about the Dutch Boys trek. Thanks!

  3. Thanks Mary Beth and Craig! I hadn’t made the art connection between the Dutch Boys and the Art Institute until reading your comments. :)

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