Annoyed Librarian
Search LibraryJournal.com ....
Subscribe to LJ
Inside Annoyed Librarian

The Purpose of Conferences

There’s a brief discussion about the viability and future of in-person conferences at Walt Crawford’s side project, also known as the Palinet Leadership Network. (Regarding the PLN, I love the way Walt pulls the juicy bits from various blogs and excerpts them so I don’t have to read so many of the boring things to keep up.) Walt thinks in-person conferences will be around for a while. Someone called Peter Murray doesn’t because of "budget crunches and and concern over environmental impacts" among other things. "Conference calls, webcasts, online learning environment, etc., may be where we should be focusing our efforts now with ways to bring the ‘why do we do them’ reasons to the forefront without all of the detriments of the traditional conference."

I couldn’t help but cringe at that sentence. The "detriments of the traditional conference"?  Whatever could those be? Budget crunches come and go and the average librarian would probably reduce her "environmental impact" more by giving up chocolate for a few months than by giving up conferences.

Murray mentions conference calls and webcasts and online learning environments as if these would be any substitute for traditional conferences. This assumes that the purpose of conferences is to convey information. No, no, no, no, no. The purpose of conferences is to get librarians away from their tedious libraries and let them eat and drink at the library’s expense while engaging in crucial socializing. The "detriments of the traditional conference" are all of the meetings, discussion groups, and programs one has to attend in between the morning coffee and the afternoon cocktail. If all we have are conference calls or webcasts to look forward to, then there isn’t really much point to the proceedings anymore. How are we to tolerate too much interaction with other librarians if we aren’t compensated with good drinks and great dinners? Badly, that’s how.

I suppose there are those librarians who get so excited by the thought of discussing library issues ad nauseum with their excitable librarian friends that they’re often in danger of soiling their seats. Needless to say, if you’re reading this, you probably aren’t one of them. These librarians actually prefer to converse with people online instead of in person. They spend hours every day communicating enthusiastically about all sorts of boring topics like libraries, computer software, and the Annoyed Librarian. Let’s take it for granted these librarians have no life outside of their laptops. Does that mean the rest of us want to be assimilated into the Borg of Twopointopia? Absolutely not!

I mean, seriously. Webcasts? Online learning? Conference calls? Are these supposed to get us excited? Are we really supposed to think anybody learns anything from a webcast or an online class? Of course not. That’s about as likely as someone learning anything at a conference program. The difference is the conference program is merely the excuse to get together for some top notch socializing, whereas the webcast is supposed to be an end in itself. Yawn.

The Palinet Leadership Network presumably has something to do with library leadership. I hear such a thing exists somewhere, though I haven’t seen much evidence of it. My advice to library leaders is to send your poor librarians off to as many in-person conferences as you possibly can if you want to improve morale. Librarians need to get out of their cocoons, knock back a few drinks, gorge themselves on some tasty victuals, and look around to see that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of librarians just as pathetic and harried as they are.They’ll carry this recognition back to their jobs and then won’t feel so put upon when you try to crush their souls some more. They’ll think, "well, my soul is being crushed a little, but not as bad as that woman from Texas I met at the Annoyed Librarians Happy Hour!" Conferences are a small price to pay to keep the talent happy.

Share

Comments

  1. Guybrarian says:

    Maybe the name of this blog should be changed to Mr. Kat’s Blog. It would be nice to hear from different people once in a while.

  2. Crushed Soul Librarian says:

    “Are we really supposed to think anybody learns anything from a webcast or an online class? Of course not.”

    I love you, AL.

  3. Free from Conferences says:

    I won’t be able to attend a conference this year due to the aforementioned budget crunch and I confess to a certain relief. They stopped being fun a long time ago. Also, our per diem doesn’t support much beyond a burger for dinner, no alcohol, and I’m not important enough to get comped by a vendor.

  4. TiredMonday says:

    Online conferences? Noooooo!!!!! Seriously, I feel that it is my librarian duty to make Elsevier, Blackwell, Ebsco and the like to wine and dine me in return for the astronomical rate hikes and prices that my library pays. To say nothing of the opportunity to go to 2 or 3 new/different cities a year on my library’s expense account. What would I do if I couldn’t experience the Innovative (III) chocolate fountain at their dessert reception?!?

  5. Working Stiff says:

    The purpose of conferences is to get the do nothing librarians and administators out of the library for a week so that we can actually get some work done.

    If you look at the list of conference attendees you will see that most are so far up the food chain they have no clue as to how libraries operate or what is going to be needed in the near and distant future to make them viable.

    So, go to you conferences and swill martinis, we will watch as the place burns down.

  6. Privateer6 says:

    While e-conferences and what not do have their place, they can be irritating, especially with people talking in the background, complaining about connections ans internet speed, people answerign referecne questions while on the teleconfernce, people multitasking, ad nasueum.

    When I can go, I like the traditional conference. Let’s em see how lucky I am to work where I do, a private corporate library, and some nice swag.

  7. the.effing.librarian says:

    I NEED to know that you are all as fat and bald and slovenly as I am, that you drag your feet when you walk, that you take many prescription drugs to calm you, that you have poor personal hygiene and bad skin and a stain on your pants that you can’t get out. How can a webcast show me that?

  8. walt crawford says:

    “Walt Crawford’s side project”? How about “Walt Crawford’s day job”? Unless you believe that I somehow earn a living from Cites & Insights and Walt at Random…

  9. Crazy Cat Lady says:

    Without conferences, where we will get to see the latest in patterned turtleneck and appliqued sweatshirt designs? Are cats or teddy bears the applique of choice this year? Or will it be something completely new and shocking, like the great penguin fad of 2006?

  10. Dumm Question says:

    The purposes of conferences?

    To get drunk and to get laid. It is tough to do either via DSL.

  11. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    I see conferences as personal moral boosters, makes me actually think good about my choice of being a librarian. Go Team feelings. Not that I can do anything I learn, its just the warm fuzzy feeling. You will never get that from a remote conference. God save us from fads!

  12. Brent says:

    I go because of guilt. I do a lot of things because of guilt. I saw AL posted during the holiday break; I’m impressed.

  13. Unbrent says:

    I saw AL posted during the holiday break; I’m impressed.


    AL is paid to blog and if you call those burnt offerings “good” maybe the next break AL can type in a few pages of the phone book and keep you happy.

  14. Naysayer says:

    I agree that in this financial climate, we ought to rethink traveling to conferences.
    Public libraries are closing, and major universities are watching their endowments diminish. No one is completely safe in their ivory tower.
    Heaven forbid the information profession utilize technology for the dissemination of information!
    Perhaps more librarians could participate in professional organizations if the financial outlay for travel to a conference were not a factor.
    And come on, it is not like you get to travel to stellar places. Colorado in winter? Orlando in summer?

  15. Elisa says:

    I took 2 online classes in library school during the summer session and hated that format.
    What’s the fun of participating in an online conference? You’re stuck looking at a computer screen the whole time.
    So yes, go to a library conference if you can. Not only do you get to meet new people but you also may run into someone whom you haven’t seen in awhile.

  16. Elisa says:

    I took 2 online classes in library school during the summer session and hated that format.
    What’s the fun of participating in an online conference? You’re stuck looking at a computer screen the whole time.
    So yes, go to a library conference if you can. Not only do you get to meet new people but you also may run into someone whom you haven’t seen in awhile.

  17. SpunPsychosis says:

    It feels good to be an arsehole, doesn’t it?

  18. carptrash says:

    It feels good to be an arsehole, doesn’t it?

    I wouldn’t know. eeeeeeeek

  19. Ed U Cation says:

    It feels good to be an arsehole, doesn’t it?


    I wouldn’t know. If you want to know what being an asshole is like, I am your man! You can find me at many a library conference, swilling martinis and chasing reference librarians.

  20. Million says:

    I wasen’t away flying to the other side of the country was necessarry to do the same things you can do at home. Socalizing, getting laid, and boozing included…

  21. Oops says:

    *aware

  22. Oopsie says:

    *wasn’t

  23. Wish I were there says:

    Maybe you shouldn’t be socializing, getting laid, or getting drunk when you are posting.

    Just saying.

  24. Mr. Original Impostor Library Cynic says:

    I keep wondering if they ran an online conference like this blog. Think of various people with their features obscured, and their voices altered to where they sound like they are someone who has inhaled freon. Hmmmm….that’s pretty much the way it is here. Did anyone read ALA’s story about Laura Bush? eeeeeek

  25. Original Anonymous Impostor says:

    Ever wonder how many people actually are commenting here under several names? “Lara Bush; Librarian in the White House”? Yawn…..It was either Dubya or more years in the library. eeeeeeek.

  26. Detached Amusement says:

    Jim, is it true that ALA’s pension fund was invested with Bernie Madoff?

  27. Tauren Hunter says:

    I’ll be happy to attend on-line conferences if they’ll hold them in Azeroth and we can do 15 people raids. Maybe a little PvP thrown in for fun… catalogers v. reference librarians.

  28. Mikey says:

    I am that woman from Texas you met whose soul was being crushed by a library leader (a mover and a shaker no less). I knew it was you Annoyed Librarian.

  29. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    All ya’ll sure the hell are funny today…a’yup…fer sure.

    On-line training &

  30. Lib-Anon says:

    Research partnerships? Give me a break.

  31. Johnny Wad says:

    That cannot happen as easily online as it does during intermissions and and after sessions over dinners or drinks in person.


    Or in the motel room later ; )

    bom chicka bom bom

  32. Mister Dog says:

    Why should my tuition help pay for a librarian to go to Seattle to learn about AACR2?

    Could they at least learn something from the 1990′s?

  33. dork says:

    AL blogs are no fun to read now :(

  34. dorker says:

    That should read All blogs are not fun to read now.

  35. dorkest says:

    That should read: Blogs are not fun to read.

  36. dorkiest says:

    That should read: Logs are not fun to read. They need to be pulped and turned into paper and have printing put on them and bound in a book and put into a library and cataloged by a professional librarian who is highly skilled because they get laid at every conference they attend to be interesting.

  37. Kitty Konfusion says:

    Mr. Kat, I’m just curious – what happened to Kat? We never see I’m Kat! anymore…

  38. Lib-Anon says:

    Oh yes—research about gaming in academic libraries. Forgive me, I forgot about all of the “authentic” research being done by librarians.

  39. Not Mr. Kat says:

    Like we care who anyone is here!

    Even the great AL is anonymous and probably more than one person. So grow up Mr. Kat and post to your heart’s content. I only come here to vent anyway, I don’t read the crap that others put here.

  40. You're No Mr. Kat says:

    If you’re not Mr. Kat, you have no business on this blog. Please go somewhere else so Mr. Kat can continue posting. Thank you.

  41. librarydude says:

    Mr. Kat, do you really think anyone cares whether you are making posts or not? Here’s the answer: we don’t.

  42. carptrash says:

    Mr. Kat seems to have a slighty elevated sense of self-importance. eeeeek

  43. Kit Kat says:

    Sur Kat,

    Who really cares?

  44. Conferences says:

    I went to one conference in my last semester of my MLIS program.

    Prior to conference – zero interviews from 5 job applications.

    After conference – 4 interviews, 4 offers, all due to the fact that I made contacts at the conference. I was given the heads up of upcoming jobs and even bypassed telephone interviews in some cases.

    I admit the sessions may not have been that useful but the networking was invaluable.

  45. Mr. Dog says:

    Sorry, Mr. Kat, we did not know your name was copyrighted. Please everyone just let it go.

  46. Mr. Dog says:

    Wow! I did not know you were the sole owner of “Mr. Kat”. I guess any “Mr. Kat” screen name that I come across online belongs to you. My apology.

  47. Vegans For Vegetables says:

    This blog is a joke and that joke’s not funny anymore. It’s too close to home and too near the bone, too close to home and too near the bone, more than you’ll ever know. I’ve seen this happen in other people’s lives and now it’s happening in Mr Kat’s. Too bad.

    Over.

  48. Claire says:

    I am currently on a FOUR HOUR CONFERENCE CALL and it’s almost 9:00. This is because my institution was too cheap to send me to a conference.

    My attention span on telecons is an hour max.

    Snore.

  49. Claire says:

    I am currently on a FOUR HOUR CONFERENCE CALL and it’s almost 9:00. This is because my institution was too cheap to send me to a conference.

    My attention span on telecons is an hour max.

    Snore.

  50. Original Anonymous Impostor says:

    Go out an rent a copy of the film version of Franz Kafka’s “The Castle”. Notice any similarity to the comments on this blog? Bunch of boredom today on East Huron, from the looks of it.

  51. Original Anonymous Impostor says:

    Go out an rent a copy of the film version of Franz Kafka’s “The Castle”. Notice any similarity to the comments on this blog? Bunch of boredom today on East Huron, from the looks of it.

  52. Detached Amusement says:

    “What the Internet has allowed you to do is make all the human frailities like greed, avarice and all those lovely things much more efficient.”

  53. Suzilibrarian says:

    Hey Mr. Kat(s),
    Troll much?

  54. **sigh** says:

    If we say fuck, the AL jumps right in and deletes our post. Even if it is pertinent to the discussion.

    The endless blathering about posts and fake posts and fake boobs is getting tiresome.

    Contribute something to the discussion under whatever name you want, but if somebody uses that name too, well boo fucking hoo.

    Even the great AL is more than one person.

  55. not Mr. Katt says:

    Mr. Kat, if you are so hung up on getting the word out under your own name, start your own blog (you can do it for free) and post to your hearts content.

    Bitching on a comments section where anyone can post as anyone is pissing in the wind. Either shut up or move on.

    Thanks

  56. Meth Mouth says:

    Whew! it’s good to know that not Mr. Kat has things under control. My god, what would we have done with out your directive?

  57. Assemblage Diffract says:

    Mr. Kat, seriously, if you simply stop posting eventually the troll cabal will get bored, even more bored than they already are, and will either pick on another handle to stalk or give up altogether. You are feeding them and they will keep coming back for more.

  58. not Mr. Katt says:

    If you don’t want your precious fucking intellectual property devalued, don’t post here. Make it clear on your dead page blog that any other posts are not yours.

    Anyway, as for the purposes of going to conferences is to get away from the office and away from idiots like Mr. Kat.

  59. Not the AL says:

    . . .drive us off one at a time until the Annoyed Librarian blog dies in obscurity. Think about it.


    I hope so, there is no there there.

  60. Nobody says:

    Where were we again?

  61. carptrash says:

    Where were we again?

    Wondering how someone with such a gay name as Mr. Kat could have such a large ego. eeeeek

  62. Confused says:

    Is this a posting about conferences or a conference about postings?

    Thanks.

  63. Hyper Sensitive says:

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!


    That holiday offends me.

    You will hear from my attorney.

  64. English Major says:

    It’s not really a holiday. It’s more of a day of thought – like Valentine’s Day. So there is no religious basis for a lawsuit.

  65. Hyper Sensitive says:

    It’s not really a holiday. It’s more of a day of thought – like Valentine’s Day. So there is no religious basis for a lawsuit.


    That statement offends me too. I am adding you, the AL, and the Library Journal to my list of people I am suing!

  66. decent-looking straight guy says:

    I met my hot librarian girlfriend at a conference. When you go to one of those rare well-thought-out, substantive sessions at a library conference *and* the presenter is cute and single it’s well worth it. I’m a lucky man.

  67. anonymous says:

    So, how hard could it be to add Kat to the list of disqualified HTML tags?

  68. Shush Puppy says:

    Mr Kat, time to change your litter. It’s s-t-i-n-k-y!!

  69. Conference times says:

    Decent:
    Nice to see the conference helped you out.

    From my first conference experience:
    Lots of free drinks
    Free lunches and some dinners
    New friends (both professional and personal)
    A job.

  70. IP says:

    {~I’m Kat!} – Please stop using this signature. I talked to a IP lawyer and he said it is mine. If you want to use this signature please pay me. I am a poor librarian.

  71. IP says:

    Sorry, but I have been using it longer than you and not just on AL.

    Please stop. Thank you.

  72. Knoxville Area Transit says:

    My name is Dave Colscott and I am a representative of Knoxville Area Transit (KAT). We have been using a character called Mr. Kat since 1989 as part of our marketing campaign. I must ask that any use of Mr. Kat on this blog be terminated or we will pursue litigation. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

  73. Ok says:

    I guess every single person using “Mr. Kat” must now cease to use it on the internet. Can someone please volunteer to contact every single person so we can stop this debate? Just a quick search of “Mr. Kat” shows over 10,000 results. Good luck!