I’m a bit late in doing this, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts about ALA Annual overall.
I noticed a few threads that kept popping up in both sessions and casual conversations:
-The library as place. There’s a growing focus on making the library (especially public libraries) into a destination that people visit more like a community center.
-Gaming. Gaming programs in libraries are growing by leaps and bounds.
-Mashups. Web 2.0 services have finally gotten mature enough that truly useful services can be built with them. I’m blown away by how simple it is to do things online that just a few years ago were death to even attempt. Just look at how Youtube revolutionized streaming video, or how simple Meebo’s embedded IM service is.
About halfway through the conference, part of me started wondering if big events like this won’t become extinct in our lifetimes. Presentations and workshops can now be conducted online almost as well as in person. And any worthwhile vendor should be able to get business done online. But then I thought about the wonderful people I met, the friends I re-met, and the brilliant ideas that flow back and forth in just a simple face to face conversation. I always come back from conferences feeling extremely energized and anxious to try out new things. I have yet to come away from an online presentation with the same reaction, no matter how well it’s put together. And a large scale event like ALA Annual always exposes me to a few ideas and viewpoints that I would never have found otherwise. Like anything else worthwhile in life, it’s about the people. Here’s to Anaheim next year 🙂