Monday, January 17, 2005

Post ALA musings

I know many librarians would still have been at ALA today but those of us who work for companies rather than libraries are usually gone once the exhibits are over--except for the very hard-working conference staff who are still there tearing down the booth and packing things up so they can be sent to the next conference. Our conference staff does an outstanding job of keeping track of people, OCLC bags, hotel rooms and everything else.

So, I didn't blog from Boston. Alice was doing a good job of populating It's All Good, and I spent a lot of time at the booth and it's hard to blog on a laptop standing up. Or at least I find it hard. ALA is a very different conference for those of us working the exhibits--we exhibitors don't personally get programs and don't have access to the agenda planner ALA has on its website. This makes it quite difficult to figure out what programs and meetings are happening when. And for sure, we don't get invited to the parties! I am still sorry I didn't get to go to the party held at the Kennedy Library--no idea who hosted but a conference attendee asked me about it at the booth and I was envious of the location.

I want to thank Beth Gallaway for her detailed posts about the OCLC Symposium over on the PLA blog. She clearly listened and took excellent notes and I am grateful to her for posting them. The symposium was filmed and will be available on the main OCLC web site in about 3 weeks. We're going to also put the slides up as Kurt Squire, Constance Steinkuehler and John Beck had interesting things on slides they did not explicitly refer to. As the person responsible for the symposium "content" (although my colleague Wendy McGinnis, Director of PR, deserves all the credit for convincing John Beck to speak) I don't want to sound like I am tootling my own horn, but I did think it was a most interesting session, and that is entirely due to the panelists--and the moderator. I'd asked them to make as many connections as they could to gaming's relevance to libraries and librarians and I think they succeeded.

Many people who stopped by the OCLC booth mentioned how much they had got out of the symposium and even though John Beck wasn't there to sign books, we still sold quite a few after he left. One academic librarian said she was giving it to her university's administrators. Jenny Levine's boss Pamela Brown stopped by too. She also liked the symposium and reads It's All Good as well. And Jenny pointed to Beth's excellent summary of the Gaming symposium way before I did!

I ran into Karen Schneider at the President's Advocacy program and had a short conversation about the oddness of meeting people who read our blogs (Karen's is The Free Range Librarian and she also blogged for PLA--and she's right, there's something wonky with the PLA blog, so be patient). It's not that we write into a vacuum because we know there are readers "out there", but meeting them in person is quite different than thinking about an abstract audience. And it's gratifying....well, it is if they like what you do!

And kudos to PLA for blogging ALA. It was most interesting reading and a whole lot better than reading just Cognotes...that human voice is very important. I hope that more associations try this as a way of reaching constituents...it's a whole lot better than quarterly newsletters.

I, like Alice, thoroughly enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's presentation. He is an engaging speaker--and he's Canadian although my national attennae did not tell me this ahead of him announcing this. In John Beck's parlance, Gladwell would be a Strategy Guide (instead of a Level Boss) showing us interesting things and then reframing these things in a way we hadn't thought of. For me, after Gladwell spoke, presentations were back to the same-old, same-old--in the "how we did it good" mode and there was a tad too much self-congratulation and not enough real examination of what he had suggested. If advocacy efforts in the 90s were so successful, why would funding and profiles of libraries be so low now?

At dinner after the Symposium, John Beck told me that he had just come up with that "Strategy Guide" analogy as a good role for librarians as he was preparing the presentation so it isn't described in his book.

To all of you who stopped at the OCLC booth to talk to us, thanks! We learn things in every conversation.

And I am going to refrain from blogging about our miserable trip to Boston because it'd be very long, and whiney in places. Besides, I think most people travelling from the middle and east of the country had a hard time so I wasn't alone...in fact I had very good company in Moby Dick (a white Buick Le Sabre) on the 6 hour drive from Syracuse, NY to Boston late Thursday night. Despite the problems, my fellow travellers remained cheerful and calm. It did occur to us on that long (expensive) ride that ALA may save money by having conferences in "off season" places, but we, the attendees, often end up spending a lot of extra money due to travel mishaps, especially in the winter--although perhaps that's not altogether true as I recall a couple of unfortunately memorable trips home during thunderstorms from ALA in the summer.

Maybe Alice will tell you about her "Rent-A-Dog" business idea...she shared this with me yesterday as we had a very late lunch in the Marriott hotel bar where just about everyone else was watching the Patriots-Colts game.

8 comments:

Beth Gallaway said...

The Gaming Symposium was truly awesome and inspiring. Thank you for bringing these speakers to us! Sorry for not stopping by the booth to express my appreciation.

Beth Gallaway

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