Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ALA: yep, it was great

ALA Exhibition Hall, McCormick Place

I had a fantastic time at ALA in Chicago this past week. I'm in the process of absorbing everything I encountered there, but here are a few notes right away:

-I found different cultures of librarians. What I mean is that there seemed to be an array of attitudes toward technology, toward library patrons, toward the profession, etc. I probably shouldn't have been surprised by the diversity, as the only thing that brought us all together was an interest in information -- which is pretty darn broad.

-I had several prototypical ALA experiences such as walking until my feet were sore, ungracefully navigating the many and varying climactic zones, and changing my planned schedule in light of local geography. As a first-time attendee, it proved VERY worthwhile to take the time to organize myself beforehand and make sure I had activities to go to at all times. It would have been easy to become overwhelmed.

-There was a rather ribald twitter backchannel that was initially quashed but promptly re-emerged. Here is a write-up (also a short follow-up) that more or less sums it up. Regardless of the snarky/semi-sordid content, I was glad to see that intellectual freedom won the day.

**added 7/21/09: piece in Library Journal interviewing the creator of @ALAsecrets.

-One huge benefit of the entire experience was the chance meetings I had with a great many interesting and inspiring people, often from outside 'my' type of library. Also, experiences that seemed the most meaningful were where there were smaller groups or opportunities for one-on-one conversations, rather than large groups sitting in lecture halls. This is significant when it comes to how to make distance learning and virtual conferences effective.

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