All the cool kids…

…are either at CIL or PLA. (Opposite one another, just as Internet Librarian 2004 was not only directly opposite the California Library Association conference, but within 75 miles of it. One can only I incorrectly assumed that ITI just doesn’t look at professional library association conferences when scheduling its commercial events.*See addition below.)

I’m not. Unlikely that I’d be at PLA (but I bet it’s a great conference), and I’ve never been to or spoken at CIL. (I’ve spoken at what is now an ITI conference, but it was a long time ago, most recently 1994, and it wasn’t an ITI conference at the time. I write for ITI, but the only time they asked me to speak/be involved, it was a situation I was unwilling to do. Such is life. I’m about ready to declare myself a “former speaker” anyway.)

So reading the blogs from both places is interesting as usual.

Meanwhile, I just finished ALA voting (oddly, my email never arrived, although the postcard did; after I contacted ALA member services by email as instructed on the postcard, a new email arrived, two days later).

My endorsements? Not going to happen.

I have my own set of criteria for voting, and there’s no reason to believe you would have similar criteria. I don’t much care for “bullet voting” (voting for only a few people to increase voting impact, particularly practiced by SRRT people), but as it turned out I only cast 14 Council votes, thanks to the confluence of bio statements and other criteria.

The only tough choices were within LITA, where, as usual, I’m acquainted with most or all of the candidates. No comment on who I did or did not vote for.

If there’s a message here, it’s that if you’re an ALA member, you really should vote. I find the electronic process a little clunkier than the old paper process (if you want to read the biographies–it’s just slower this way), but the savings in postage and paper more than justifies the methodology.

Addition, March 25: Jane Dysart makes the excellent point that scheduling moderate-to-large conferences is exceedingly difficult. While there is an ALA list of state and national library conference dates and locations for years ahead, it’s notoriously incomplete…so maybe there’s no way around commercial and association library conferences at the same time and, sometimes, nearly at the same place.

[And, 13 months later, Don Hawkins adds assurances that ITI does look at other conferences. See comments below.]

13 Responses to “All the cool kids…”

  1. Blake says:

    “All the cool kids…”

    That’s funny, I was just reading my bloglines account and I was thinking the same thing, seems like every librarian with a blog is at either (some even seem to be doing both somehow) conference and writing about it. I really hate to miss CIL, wish I was there. Those ITI folks put on a great show!

  2. Laura says:

    Oh well. . . either I’m not one of the cool kids, or I’m just hopelessly behind the times. . . or both. Or, as is actually the case, I just started a new job in a state very far away from both DC and Boston.

    I applaud your decision not to reveal the contents of your secret ballot, but I am curious about why you don’t care for “bullet voting.” (I have nothing for or against it; I’m just interested).

  3. walt says:

    My mild dislike for bullet voting has to do with a few people from one group within ALA who seem to get elected repeatedly and whose presence on Council I could do without. I’m not that fond of the group either… I personally believe in voting for as many candidates who I think would do Council and ALA credit as I can vote for, although I also tend to prefer new blood.

    The latter may have to do with ALA’s selective rules for tenure: You can’t hold successive terms on a division’s board of directors, except by being elected VP in your outgoing year on the Board, by ALA rules–but you can serve on Council as long as people keep voting for you. I think that’s hypocritical, and believe that there should either be term limits for ALA Council or that the no-reelection rule for division boards should be repealed. So, in general, I do my part to limit terms, although there are always exception such as one library administrator/blogger…

  4. See Also says:

    Feeling uncool

    Walt Crawford said it: it feels like all the cool kids are at Computers in Libraries (well, some of the cool kids are at PLA, but that’s not my scene, man). Even Flickr knows that “cil2006” is hot–no kidding, check…

  5. Jane Dysart says:

    Walt, would love for you to speak at ITI conferences. What would you like to speak about? — give me a list of topics. Check out my blog post too We love volunteers!
    Jane Dysart, Program Chair, CIL 2006

  6. walt says:

    Ah, but there’s the rub. I don’t volunteer to speak (never have), and I don’t pay my own way, both of which may account for my lack of speaking at ITI events. I’ve done about a hundred speeches over the years, roughly half of them keynotes–and, except for a handful, all of them with the conference paying all my expenses and an honorarium.

    Note the “asked me to speak”–that’s the only way I speak. Time, money, energy, etc., all argue for that stance. If I’m in demand, that’s not a problem. If I’m not, as currently seems to be the case–well, that leaves more time for writing and reading and relaxing.

    I do recognize the scheduling problem–although ALA does maintain a web-accessible schedule that lists national and state conferences many years ahead. But divisional and state conferences are only on that list if and when ALA knows about them–and, as you say, conference scheduling for any multi-thousand-person conference is tough. The close-in geographic as well as chronologic junction of CLA’05 and Internet Librarian seemed unusual, but it’s true that you were there first…

  7. Dorothea says:

    I don’t have any trouble believing that ALA or its satellites would consider hamstringing an ITI conference a Good Thing…

  8. Two things Walt,

    First, the ALA Chapter Relations Office (CRO) works very hard to keep the list of conferences and dates current. Some of the issues relate to the planning timelines for Chapters, and how quickly they report them to the ALA CRO. As a past Chapter officer (and conference co-chair) for one smaller state, I can tell you that we have dates and contracts only two years out. Some of the bigger states (Texas, Illinois, California) must plan further out, and do report to CRO frequently. Divisional conferences require Executive Board approval, and are usually at least 4 years out. I know based on the requests/approvals done in my term on the EB. Those really are limited to ACRL, PLA, and AASL.

    My second point is about term limits. The limits you cite for divisional boards may be specfic to only certain divisions, and certainly do not apply to sections and to committees in divisions. Having said that, and as a candidate for Council, I understand your comments and concerns about the bullet voting aspect. I’ll note that I am flattered that a number of folks at PLA said that they bullet voted for me (and a few others), so the bullet voting may not be limited to just a certain segment of ALA voters.

  9. walt says:

    Dorothea: I have considerable trouble believing that. If ALA was out to screw commercial conferences, it wouldn’t make its running list of conference places and dates publicly available. ALA has problems; I don’t regard malice as one of them. One compounding issue with ALA and the state associations in larger states is the need to move the conferences around; I’d love to have Midwinter permanently situated in San Antonio, but that’s not feasible. ITI can and does hold the same conference in the same city and on the same dates year after year; while smaller state associations can (and in some cases almost need to because there are so few good facilities in some states), most of them–and certainly the national association and its divisions–feel they must move them around to serve those who can’t or won’t travel very far.

    Michael, re term limits: This is interesting. When I was active in LITA, it was clear that (a) as a matter of ALA policy, no divisional board member could succeed himself/herself as a board member, (b) no committee member could serve more than two successive terms on a committee. These weren’t offered as divisional rules; they were ALA rules. But I admit that I’m having very little luck finding them in either the Bylaws or the Policies, not that I’m experienced with either one. I did make exceptions to my practice of not voting for incumbents; some library administrator blogger or other was one of them.

    As to divisional conferences: Well, two type-of-activity divisions did have National Conferences, but for a smaller division the financial aspects were such that it wasn’t really workable. I know: LITA’s the only ToA division (as far as I know) to have held more than one such conference, and one of them was a joint conference with LAMA. (Accrual accounting, which is of necessity how ALA works, is a real killer when a division can’t run a deficit and given the sheer extent of upfront costs for a national conference.)

  10. Angel says:

    Hmm, guess I am out of the “cool kid” running (not that I ever cared for the label, hehe). For me, it’s the distance and funding factor, which apparently for some bloggers out there may be better than mine. And no, I am not asking, and I sure as hell don’t want to know how anybody got anywhere. Though I do wonder with the passing memes of how hard it can be to travel and get funding. Anyhow, the coverage for the rest of us has been excellent. Finally got the ballot for ALA, so as soon as I actually get some time, will have to vote, even if my feelings are mixed, but I do want to be able to say I voted. Best, and keep on blogging.

  11. walt says:

    Interestingly, both PLA and CIL had record attendance. Either people are spending a lot of their own money or the funding crisis is easing up somewhat. Or maybe a little of both.

  12. Don Hawkins says:

    Hi Walt–

    I can assure you that ITI does look at other conferences when scheduling its own events. I know this because I compile and maintain the conference calendar on ITI’s web site (see, and I also write the “Conference Circuit” column for Information Today (the newspaper). The problem is that there are LOTS of conferences out there–there are over 60 on the calendar in April alone!

    Scheduling a conference without conflicts is not only not easy–it can be well nigh impossible at certain times of the year!


    Don Hawkins
    Information Technology and Database Consultant
    Information Today, Inc.
    143 Old Marlton Pike
    Medford, NJ 08055-8570

  13. walt says:

    Hi Don,

    Well, it’s a year later…

    I know it’s impossible to avoid schedule conflicts, particularly in the March-April and September-November periods, when the bulk of state conferences are held. On the other hand, scheduling a commercial library conference within 75 miles of a state conference at the same time did seem a bit more conflicty than I’d expect.