Monday, May 09, 2005

Fellows and More

Alane isn't kidding about us being busy.

I spent four days in Illinois with the IFLA/OCLC Early Career Development Fellows (hereafter, "the Fellows") last week. We had a great reception Wednesday at the Chicago Public Library All Staff Institute Day. The highlight was when one of our Fellows, Muhammad Rafiq of Pakistan, won the fish toss contest. He was presented with his prize by Karen Danczak Lyons, the acting commissioner of the CPL, who is wearing the coolest octopus hat you're ever likely to see. Incidentally, please check out that linked CPL site to see a truly wonderful public library web site. It's as clean as Google, while making it extremely easy to jump into whatever you need, including a very nice federated search system that lets you search the catalog, magazines, newspapers, and databases simultaneously. Sweet.

After the staff day, I was able to accomplish something I've always wanted to do. I rode "The City of New Orleans." I've been playing the song (badly) on my guitar for 30 years, but I finally got a chance to take the train from Chicago to Urbana/Champaign. What a great trip. The train is modern, clean, fast, smooth, and staffed by some wonderful people. Anyone who thinks Amtrak should be terminated should be ashamed of themselves. (Full disclosure: my beloved grandfather Joe Duffy worked for the New York Central line as a yard bull for 37 years.)

We also spent a most informative day at the Mortenson Center at the University of Illinois, led by our good friends and colleagues Barbara Ford and Susan Schnuer. They created a day jam packed with tours, private discussions with leaders including Paula Kaufman, the University Librarian, and a tour of the library school. Barbara and Susan were off for a 20-day trip to libraries in Africa the next day, but you would have thought we were the only people they had to be concerned with while we were there.

Back in Chicago on Friday (after a Thursday evening trip on the "Illini," an Amtrak train that's not quite in the City of New Orleans class, but still most serviceable) we visited the American Theological Library Association, one of the sponsors of the Fellows program. Karen Whittlesey, the director of member services for ATLA, and I had worked together at ALA in the 1990s, and so it was a pleasure to make contact with her again in our 2000s roles. ATLA is involved in many more publication activities than the average library association, and we were treated to a very interesting program about how ATLA staff index the literature of their discipline. Kevin Stephens showed us ATLA's micrographics lab. And we got to see what has to be the only meditation room in any library association offices.

After lunch, we visited ALA. This was a nostalgic trip for me; after all, when I worked there, my office was one of the stops on these tours. (I got to stop by and see Greta Southard, the current PLA Executive Director who is responsible for all those wonderful things PLA does now.) Michael Dowling, the director of the International Relations Office and a dead ringer for Fred Willard without the smirkiness, gave us a tour of 50 East Huron and arranged for complimentary ALA memberships for a year for the Fellows. Michael's low key, even droll, delivery made the visit a treat.

Friday night, several of us went to Pizzeria Uno and Howl at the Moon; consider these unsolicited plugs for both when you are in Chicago for ALA next month. In case anyone from OCLC is reading this, the expense for dinner is going on my reimbursement request form, but not my bar tab at Howl at the Moon.

Saturday was given over to a city tour, a visit to the Art Institute, and then the trip home. Except for an untoward incident on the L on the way to O'Hare, it was a great visit. (Tips for those of you going to ALA: keep your wallet as close to your body as possible at all times, and be especially careful if you travel on the L with your luggage),

Today, we had a conference call for all the speakers for PLA's preconference "Creating a Library Sales Force: It's Easier Than You Think!" My presentation at that event is going to focus on how to do an e-scan for your own institution. Details to follow.

This week, I'm back in Chicago (actually, Itasca) briefly for a board meeting of Learning Point Associates, then on to Seattle for a WebJunction Advisory Committee meeting Thursday. But they have their own blog now, so we can cover that there!

OCLC Members Council opens for me on Saturday with our early arrivers' dinner. Sunday is my wife Joyce's birthday---does ANYONE have a suggestion for a gift for her? She deserves the world, but we don't have anywhere to keep it. If you can think of something more practical, I'm game!

The point (and I do have one) is that even if I don't show up here for a while, I am thinking good thoughts about all of you!

1 comment:

KunchU said...

Hi George,
Your narration made me nostalgic with my memories of 2002 fellowship.Amy was with us to Chicago trip.I am happy that new fellows got a chance to visit ALA and ALTA and few libraries there. Ours was just restricted to Mortenson and UIUC Library only.

I am in Antigua, West Indies and working here.You can see my professional growth after IFLA-OCLC Fellowship at

Class of 2002