Preliminary random post-ALA notes

I probably shouldn’t write at all until at least yesterday, since I’m now 15 hours into the “travel day” and just skimmed through 458 library blog posts and 150 others (and, surprisingly, only flagged a dozen to look at again later–but I’d say at least 100 of those posts are repetitions because of Bloglines or blogging software glitches).

Still, before I forget, in no particular order, and with zero cosmic significance:

  • There is no Ten in the LITA Top Tech Trends. I’ve seen that extraneous word in at least two blogs. It’s TTT: Top Tech Trends. Not TTTT.
  • The time given for each TTT panelist was decided, at Midwinter, by the TTT committee and the TTT panelists. I wasn’t there. I was just The Enforcer. (Actually, a one-minute sign and a red “time up” sign were being held up in the front row of the audience–but I quickly realized that the panelists couldn’t see the signs. Too bad. I really was hoping not to say anything after summarizing Sarah Houghton’s trends…). I think five minutes is probably about right; in this case, it was literally the only way to save half an hour for managed audience questions. I think the managed-questions portion went very well (as did the whole thing, and since I’m no longer a panelist, I can say that): Most questions were included, while avoiding diatribes. (And I must apologize to Sarah: I left out “brighter” in the range of adjectives that distinguish the LiB from the bozo offering her trends.)
  • I wonder whether we’ll ever have an accurate number for how many people were at ALA–which is not necessarily the same as the registration count. Exhibits felt light; my hotel noted that a number of people had cancelled at the last minute; I wouldn’t be surprised if a thousand or more people just didn’t show up. Why? Because of the “lift” problem I noted pre-conference: There just weren’t enough airplane seats on the key travel days. I know of people paying $700 for flights booked more than a month ahead, $900 for flights booked fairly well ahead–and of one person being quoted $3,000 for a coach seat a week ahead. I can say that a $900 fare would have increased my total conference expenses by nearly 50%; for a lot of people, the extra $300 to $600 or more–or just the inability to book a flight at all without staying late or going in early–may have prevented attendance.
  • That said, there were still probably at least 15,000 librarians and vendors in New Orleans, and I believe most of us found attendance worthwhile. I wouldn’t have missed it…
  • Apologies in general to people who might have expected to run into me and didn’t. Thanks to a combination of factors–the strain of the last couple months, four or five days of pre-ALA weather in Mountain View where the lack of air conditioning made 92 to 96 degrees difficult to bear, getting a really bad night’s [lack of] sleep Friday night, the effect of the front half of the Convention Center being closed–I was just plumb exhausted by mid-day Saturday, and took what measures I could to protect energy. That meant spending less time at social functions and marginal (for me) programs than I might otherwise have, definitely not trying to stay up for the 10:30-midnight blogger/Louisiana librarian gathering, skipping a couple of kind invitations to fancy dinners that would keep me up too late… and generally laying a little bit low.
  • I’m grateful to all the folks who asked how things were going in terms of OCLC-RLG and my future. I think the short answer “It’s probably going to be all good, personally at least,” is better than the slightly longer answers I was giving. [OK, I might not word it exactly that way, but, well...]
  • And, given that cheap entertainment playing slot poker was one way to preserve a little energy and sanity, I should report that Harrah’s New Orleans has good music–I’m guessing it’s more or less the same blend of oldies used in other Harrah’s, but with every third or fourth song replaced by something local (songs about New Orleans, zydeco music, songs by other NO musicians, etc.). And, unlike some casinos last time we were in Reno, the music wasn’t playing SO LOUD IT HURT YOUR EARS.
  • Sure, I went to some programs. Sure, I toured all of the exhibits. Maybe I’ll have something to say about them later–but seems like lots of other people are covering things pretty well. (Cop out? You betcha.)

Oh, and I have to mention the LITA breakfast for 23 of the former presidents, as part of the division’s 40th anniversary celebration. (LITA isn’t 40 years old, but the division is: It originally had a different name, Information Science and Automation Division or ISAD.) Great stuff, and a good chance to see a bunch of people I really don’t run into that often.

Added next day: It probably isn’t obvious from the above, although my pre-conference posts may have hinted at it, but:

  • Keeping ALA in New Orleans was exactly the right thing to do. Exactly. I believed it when the decision was made. I believed it after the misreported story about killings in a drug-infested area of New Orleans. And I believed it even more while I was there, starting with the cabbie who, while grumping a little about ALA’s proficiency at sending people to the airport shuttles, expressed delight at us being there (his house is “OK,” but his furnishings were a total loss)–and all the way through.
  • Despite all the wonderful voluntarism, donations to NOPL funds, “over”tipping, ALA wasn’t there as a charity operation. We were there as a conference, with conferees having the usual good time in and after events. (“The usual good time” for NO being a little different than “the usual good time” for, say, Orlando.)
  • As I commented on John Blyberg’s first-rate post-ALA note: We did good. New Orleans did good.

3 Responses to “Preliminary random post-ALA notes”

  1. Sarah Houghton (LiB) Says:

    (And I must apologize to Sarah: I left out “brighter” in the range of adjectives that distinguish the LiB from the bozo offering her trends.)

    You’re being ridiculous. Walt, you’re the one who got me interested in doing TTT! I’m honored to have had you present my trends…better you than some random audience member :) And you must have done a decent job because “from Sarah in absentia” or some variation appeared in most of the conference blog posts on that session. Good job! And I got to save a few thousand dollars by not going :)

  2. walt Says:

    Hey, Sarah, I get to be ridiculous now and then: It’s my blog. (The adjectives used were younger, more stylish, better looking, and a different gender…)

    I summarized the first and third points. The second one, I read verbatim, after a Major Disclaimer since it involves my present and future employer…fortunately, the disclaimer’s simple truth: I don’t know anything at all related to your suggestion.

    “A few thousand dollars”? Wow. I knew the air fares were bad, but…

  3. Sarah Houghton (LiB) Says:

    More stylish? My monochromatic wardrobe is a wee bit limiting in that area… I also know a few who would tangle with you on the “better looking” thing.

    And yes…a few thousand (at the very least, a couple). Between registration, airfare, lodging, in-city transport, not to mention food.

    I really do think OCLC will come up with an ILS, hopefully modeled on RLG and some of the more successful open source and/or highly customized options out there right now. That’s my prediction for the decade, anyhow. Prove me wrong :)


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