in ALA2006, Libraries/Info Sci, Ramblings

ALA 2006 – Day 1

What an amazing day! I met Neil Gaiman! (Thanks for spotting his signing, Beth!) And oh yeah, other great stuff happened too 🙂

The trip here was relatively uneventful, thankfully! Some construction around Nashville’s airport had me worried, but I persevered. Kudos once again to Southwest.

Shared a taxi ride from the airport with a fellow attendee I met on the plane. Librarians are so very friendly!

So I checked in to the dorm I’m staying at, and caught a shuttle downtown. Picked up my conference materials (the gigantic book of events is the most intimidating thing ever), and hit the exhibit floor. Google had a much larger booth than last year’s table and a banner. And Elvis is there, too. Talked to a few vendors related to work, again everyone was really friendly. How does everybody have a connection to Huntsville? Completely randomly ran into Beth, after we both tried and failed to attend events that were overflowing out the door. We returned to the conference floor, where she noticed Neil Gaiman signing Anansi Boys! Not only that, but giving out free hardback copies to be signed.

Later, went to Membership Meeting I. It was… anticlimactic to say the least. Less than 75 people attended, which is less than the one half of one percent of membership necessary to vote on issues. Later more people showed up, but it didn’t matter anyway since nothing was even up for vote. But in the interest of public disclosure, here’s the notes I took:

-ALA 2006 official attendance: 20,843 attendees registered, and 4494 vendors. Less than 1000 fewer than attended the last event in Orlando, which isn’t bad considering the worries about New Orleans.

-The recent dues increase will be used for a number of projects as part of an overall grand plan for 2010. Some projects are more member input, a diversity web course, and the development of a full strategic/financial plan over the next four months will outline this in more detail.

-Amazingly, ALA has no demographic data on members for things like salary. This will be addressed soon and used to evaluate a potential tiered membership fee structure.

After that, I strolled over to the opening session. Madeline Albright was the keynote speaker, and did a pretty good job. She was interesting, but I question whether going as in depth on foreign policies as she did was relevant to the conference. Mayor Nagin also appeared, as did the lieutenant governor of the state and a videoed message from Winton Marsalis.

Next, I met up with Beth and her roommate Alyssa for dinner. Mmm po’boys! Got to see a bit of the French Quarter in the process.

And last but certainly not least, we attended the Bloggers’ Bash Leslie Berger threw in her Hilton suite. I put a ton of faces with blogs I read, and had some great conversations. Gulf Coast librarians were invited too, and they had some very moving stories to tell. One thing in particular they wanted passed on: Please do not donate any more books to them. They are simply out of storage space, and money is far more needed.

On that topic, it is very surreal to see the places featured in so much news coverage of Katrina last year. Most of the houses the shuttle bus and taxis took me by still have the spraypainted marks from search and rescue teams, and probably one in three houses has some sort of active repair going on (and many more need it). New Orleans has a long way to go. But even so, it is open for business. Everyone has been extremely welcoming, and my only real regret is that the St. Charles streetcar isn’t back in service yet. I would have loved to ride it from Loyola to the convention center.

For those I met tonight, I am horrible with names. Would you mind dropping me an e-mail to say hi and force my brain to make a connection?

All the pictures I took today are here.

I stayed out later than I intended, but it was worth it! Now: sleep.