ALA Summer 2009

McCormick Place - hub for ALA 2009 Chicago

Well ALA Summer 2009 is over, and once again I didn’t get to all the sessions I wanted to go to, but a few of the sessions are available for online viewing if you registered. 

It’s always frustrating to have sessions  and meetings in multiple locations, so I’m looking forward to PLA 2010, since everything will be in one place.  I tried using the shuttle busses and public transportation, but seemed to end up walking (usually in the wrong direction – I seem to be navigationally challenged when I don’t have the CO mountains for reference) between many meetings – not much fun when lugging a laptop, though Chicago is beautiful with fabulous architecture and loads of green spaces.  But having spent a good 45 minutes wandering through huge empty areas of other sections of the convention center after being severely misdirected by Google Maps’ walking/public transport directions, I have to wonder why so many events needed to be offsite.

Green man (he's alive) at an ALA booth

There were still loads of exhibits (not sure which one this man was at, but he caught my eye), and attendance was healthy, despite the economy.  I was disappointed that there weren’t more vendors with helpful products for job seekers and small businesses, but I suppose it takes time to develop products, and, Vault, Brainfuse and Career Cruising were all there.

A Geek the Library campaign poster (beekeeper)

I heard about OCLC’s new community-based public awareness campaign, Geek the Library, which will hopefully increase support and funding.  It’s great to see two of my favorites, Lou Reed and Brian Dennehy, on posters for libraries, but I keep thinking of the original meaning of the word geek – gross!  Is this where Ozzy Osbourne got the idea (see Drug, Alcohol and Animal Abuse if you’re not familiar with this reference)?

I did get to the session on Libraries in Hard Times, which was pretty depressing as the stimulus package has hardly anything designated for funds for libraries to create infrastructure (broadband etc.).  We can apply via internet service providers for connectivity help as they’ll earn needed service points that way.  Or we can apply to become computer centers via the Rural Community Facilities Program (which may cover much of the cost and possibly some staffing).  Also there are opportunities via the Department of Energy for green building grants that we may be able to tap into. 

I also got to the Urban Libraries Council’s Membership Breakfast Meeting & Awards Ceremony and was excited to see that Susan Benton, their new president and CEO, comes from ICMA, as that connection may strengthen the relationship between libraries and those who make funding decisions for local government. 

So all in all this year’s gathering did offer some hope.  It was energizing and tiring at the same time, and each night I was thrilled to finally return to my hotel…

View of the Chicago River from my hotel room window

…even if I did need to work far into the night organizing my notes, catching up on work and digesting the day.

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