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Thoughts from ALA: the happiest conference on earth?

By Cory Lampert on July 3, 2008 4:57 PM | Permalink
Well, maybe not everyone agrees...but since my lodging was within a stone's throw of Disneyland and I could hear the screams from the roller coaster from my hotel patio, there was a certain added thrill to the 2008 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. So how was this year's conference and what did I accomplish in my four days? Lots of running around looking for conference rooms (anyone else find the Disneyland Hotel a total nightmare?), lots of vendors in the exhibits hawking their schwag, and fun times reconnecting with librarians from far and wide. I arrived on Friday afternoon and was able to register and drop in on the very end of a committee meeting before heading out to grab some dinner and meet up with former colleagues. Saturday began the marathon race to fit in as much information and experience as possible in four days and after a quick tour around the exhibits, it was time to present one of my two poster sessions. The first one was a summary of how we built the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project digital library and the poster was well-received with lots of interest and questions. I think ALA puts the poster sessions in a somewhat buried area of the exhibits and there wasn't much foot traffic, but nonetheless I gave out handouts and bookmarks and talked to several folks that are also working on oral history projects. After lunch and a few aspirin to combat a wicked headache, I attempted to find the Digitizing Indian Country presentations. This was one of the few sessions directly related to digitization, and I do wish that there were more presentations to attend in my specific area. Often I digital collections topics are spread throughout LITA, ASCLA, ACLTS, and other random groups. The last session I attended Saturday was the Collaborative Digitization Discussion Group that turned out to be the most interesting and informative session I got to see. Toby Graham (Director of the Digital Library of Georgia) talked about the Civil Rights Digital Library, an impressive digital collection that contains digitized content from Georgia (news film from the WSB (Atlanta) and WALB (Albany, Ga.) television archives) as well as serving as a comprehensive portal to other digital collections on the subject. The video included in this collection is amazing to watch and Mr. Graham did a great job summing up the process of building the collection. This presentation was followed by two speakers from ALA's Washington Office who specialize in copyright policy: Carrie Russell and Corey Williams Green. Both speakers did a great job of providing concise and informative updates on Orphan Works legislation and how this legislation may affect those of us doing digitization of works with uncertain copyright status. All in all there are still some worrisome notions in the various bills (i.e. a proposed "dark archive" of materials seems more than a bit problematic), but I am very glad to have more knowledge of the issues to help in making local decisions. Saturday night I ventured out to a local Korean restaurant with some colleagues and co-workers. I couldn't tell you the name of it, since I don't read Korean, but it was off the beaten path and had some seriously tasty eats. Nothing like sitting around a table with hundreds of condiment plates and piles of searing meats (sorry vegetarians out there!) to dispel the mob-feeling of the ALA conference. Sunday, I got up early and attended a breakfast for YA authors at my hotel. I talked with some librarians at the opposite end of my professional spectrum and enjoyed the change in conversation. After the breakfast I tried to attend a session on the Myers-Briggs Personality Types in the workplace, but ended up leaving early as the whole session was predicated on deep understanding of the Harry Potter characters, and I haven't read any of the books. Instead, I went to a research presentation put on by LRRT. The various speakers all presented research results from large library studies with very interesting topics (career tracking of LIS graduates, National Board Certification and achievement in school media centers, and information services during community disasters). After this meeting, I helped my co-worker set up for her poster session before taking a quick detour to the LITA Awards ceremony.It was really fun to see some extremely talented people be recognized for their work before I headed off to attempt to attend the Alumni Reception at the Disneyland Hotel. This was a bad experience that left me frazzled in the Sleeping Beauty Tower (not good!) and frustrated at the apparent lack of a Central Ballroom. Luckily, Downtown Disney was close by to explore before attending a lavish vendor party. I even made it back to the hotel in time to see the fireworks. Monday I attended the CONTENTdm user group meeting which packed a lot of stuff into one morning session: breakfast, networking, two presentation, roundtable discussions and a product update that previewed the 5.0 release in the Fall, which promises a totally revamped Acquisition Station and Report Generator (among other enhancements). After the user group meeting, I met up with my co-presenters at the poster sessions for my second presentation entitled, "Sayonara Party Girl, Hello Real World: Surfing Into Library Technology Positions". Things went really well and we talked to several folks in our targeted demographic of recent graduates. Our data provided some encouragement with a healthy dose of reality and I think it was interesting for people to see. We rushed a bit to pack up and load the car for the return trip, but we all returned to Vegas without incident. I don't know if I could tolerate Anaheim for every conference, but I have to say that it was a interesting venue with fun options for kids of all ages.


Submitted by clampert on
I did enjoy the weather, it felt so "tropical" compared to home! You are right that Cognotes is a good way to keep informed at the conference. There is far too much going on for any one person to keep track of so it's nice to get the summary! Glad you had a nice trip!


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