You remember that scene in L.A. Story where the Wacky Weekend Weather Guy is replaced by George Plimpton intoning, “Sunny. 72. Our next weather forecast will be in four days”? That’s me at ALA through next summer. Not exciting, and not much variation.
[Day 0: At Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 6:30am, deprived of sleep, food, and caffeine. Not really conference related, but I had to do it, so you have to hear about it.]
Day 1: Thomas meets with the LITA executive committee to discuss issues related to governance, budget, and membership; Thomas meets with the LITA financial advisory committee to discuss issues related to budget, membership, and governance; Thomas attends the LITA Open House, which touches on governance and membership; Thomas goes out to dinner with members of the LITA governing board to discuss issues related to seafood and beer; the current and incoming vice presidents entertain the table with anecdotes about their respective childhoods in south central Wisconsin and northern Wisconsin. Current LITA president reminds me that her term is up in three days.
Day 2: More of the same, only without the seafood and beer (the LITA committee of committee chairs, and the first of two LITA board meetings, where the current president reminds me her term is up in two days), punctuated by lunch with the other divisional presidents-elect and ALA president-elect Sari Feldman.
This was Sari’s chance to give us an informal sneak peek at the ALA publicity and visibility campaign now available at librariestransform.org. I think this is a very interesting campaign: it’s really ALA amping up the message that libraries are increasingly about services, and how valuable those services are. The web site has a cool video that’s worth a watch (about two minutes).
Day 3: Let’s just say I was up early enough that I had no trouble getting across the Pride Parade route. I attended the ALA Leadership breakfast, which focused on membership recruitment and retention. A couple of numbers that illustrate why this is such an issue. Since the 2008 economic implosion, the library profession has lost 60,000 positions; in the same period, enrollment in library schools has dropped by a quarter, from about 20,000 to 15,000. The median age of librarians continues to inch up, so: there are fewer current librarians; fewer future librarians; and more librarians edging toward retirement. Which is maybe why it will help to be more visible with the message that libraries provide transformative services (note to ourselves: we should also make sure that we actually provide transformative services).
Day 3.5. I did have a good meeting with an Ex Libris rep, and I did get to go to Top Tech Trends and the LITA President’s Program on Sunday afternoon, which Susan already covered. The speaker (or interviewee) at the President’s Program was Lou Rosenfeld, Information Architect. There aren’t that many people I can claim as acquaintances who literally wrote the book on the subject.
The current LITA president (who, all kidding aside, did a fantastic job this year, in trying circumstances) points out – from the stage – that her term is up in one day.
Day 4: A morning session to orient new board members and then an afternoon board meeting, at the end of which I was presented with a gavel and pronounced LITA president. I believe the now past-president’s comment was, “Bwahahaha!”
Highly productive dinner meeting with Steve Kelley and Jeff Eller at the Oakland Coliseum (A’s 7, Rockies 1).
Day 5: Up early in a coat and tie to be paraded through not one but two ceremonies, along with my cohort of new divisional presidents and many friends and well-wishers from LITA. I remind the new vice president that my term is up in 365 days and catch the red-eye home.
[Day 6: At Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 6:30am, deprived of sleep, food, and caffeine. Maybe it was all a dream! No, wait, here’s my gavel.]