I was delighted to see this announcement: New Orleans will continue to be the site for the 2006 ALA Annual Conference, June 22-29.
Not some supposed “virtual conference” with us all promising to send our registration money to relief efforts, leaving ALA $2 million in the hole, 20,000-odd librarians without the networking and learning opportunities of a real-world conference, and a chunk of money in (whose?) hands that will be a drop in the bucket compared to likely federal aid. Meanwhile abandoning the chunk of New Orleans that depends on tourism (otherwise known as “New Orleans”) without much help, since aid money tends to go in odd directions…
A real conference. With loads of Cajun and Creole cuisine, the nightlife of the French Quarter (which never did drown), and all the stuff that makes ALA Annual worthwhile.
Good for ALA. Good for New Orleans. I certainly plan to be there (I won’t say anything about “come hell or high water,” given disbelief in the one and all-too-much belief in the other). Maybe it’s time to try another C&I “in person” gathering?
Some other venue might be the place for folks to discuss what should happen with the massive reconstruction of New Orleans. My father’s a civil engineer; his thoughts about rebuilding in flood plains are clear and not too kindly. In NO’s case, I suspect there are parts of the city that should be turned into wetlands, with the people resettled in other areas that are above sea level. I also suspect, given who live(d)(s) in those areas, that the results would be for the poor to get even poorer, which makes things tricky.
But that’s a different set of issues. If I have a “favorite city” for ALA Annual, it’s probably New Orleans; too hot, too muggy, but–well, you’re in New Orleans. (I do, in fact, have a favorite for Midwinter, at least so far, and ALA’s there in January 2006.)
Make an effort to be there. It shouldn’t be a somber event. If Habitat for Humanity and others are (still?) building houses, sure, some of you may want to come early or leave late and contribute some labor. But just by being there–by spending your money in the local restaurants (and New Orleans food is mostly local restaurants, not national chains), by staying at hotels full of local workers–you’ll helping to make New Orleans back into the Big Easy.
[LibrarianInBlack blogged this before I did. I’m always happy to give her credit. I’d already seen the item, but hadn’t thought about blogging it.]