If you didn’t make it to the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, don’t worry about it. You haven’t missed much so far. Midwinter, for those not in the know, is not a conference. It’s a meeting. So for those people who keep referring to it as a conference, just stop now. ALA doesn’t like it when you talk that way, and you wouldn’t want to annoy the ALA, now would you?
It should be called Midwinter Meetings, because there are about 40,000 meetings at the conference (it’s okay, ALA doesn’t frighten me), approximately 10 for everyone involved. At these meetings, we sit around and do important library organization things, like drink coffee, complain about how broke our libraries are, make dinner plans, figure out which book or person should win which unimpressive prize, and wonder if we shouldn’t be doing this virtually,
Speaking of unimpressive prizes, the "meeting" opened with a raffle on the exhibit floor Friday evening, with vendors giving away various prizes. I really wanted to win the Wine & Country Gift Basket from Wilson, figuring I could keep the wine and give the "country" to some of my friends who work in rural libraries and like that sort of thing, or at the very least the complete DVD set of All Creatures Great and Small from the BBC to give to my mother the Anglophile. Instead I won the Penguin Classics Surprise. Just what I needed, yet another copy of Pride and Prejudice. Oh well. Maybe next year.
Then there was AL Gore speaking on Saturday. He seemed in good form, going on about climate change and all. But the whole time I kept wondering what the carbon footprint of this conference was. And when the counting and recounting was done, I’m still not sure he really used to be the next President of the United States, but that’s neither here nor there.
As usual, I’m reporting on the martini situation. It’s not good. I was at one restaurant with a very long "martini" list, only the restaurant bar didn’t stock gin. It was appalling. Boston may be the Cradle of Liberty, but any city that would give a liquor license to a restaurant like that has got to be doing something wrong. The Big Dig was nothing compared to this fiasco.
Boston itself was enjoyable for the most part, though the large number of homeless was a bit depressing. I began to feel so bad for them out in the cold that I came home with 24 issues of "Spare Change News." One of them was sold to me by an old guy touting the leading story about a possible legalization of medical marijuana in Massachusetts. "They’re gonna legalize marijuana. That’s a good thing! I smoke it all the time." He seemed by far the jolliest of the homeless I saw, so perhaps Massachusetts could also legalize marijuana use for the homeless. It’s just a thought.
Council seems to be heating up. So far there’s been a lot of talk about a resolution concerning a very important issue: the ALA Event Planner. Someone was complaining about it, then someone else suggested the problem was some other thing, then everyone agreed, then people kept complaining anyway, or something like that. Council is so bloody boring and the same people always chatter on about stuff that I tend to doze off anytime I visit. When I do show up, I usually bring a book. It helps pass the time.
My favorite was the resolution to make this a year of cataloging research! I think that was it, anyway. My goodness, these ALA Councilors work on exciting stuff! I’m also pretty sure there’s going to be something about Haitian libraries, which is good because I think there are a lot of American libraries in Haiti, and I think we should support them all.
The ALA-APA is also in trouble, it seems, because it can’t support itself with all the exciting stuff it’s been offering the members. I can’t think of any exciting stuff, which is probably why no one has been paying for it. They do that certification program for library support staff. The pity is it doesn’t actually certify them for anything. I thought the ALA-APA was supposed to try to remedy the problem that amidst the ALA-proclaimed librarian shortage there was a huge number of un- or underemployed librarians and many more earning terrible wages. I guess we see how that’s going.
I sense an exciting story on the horizon, but now I have to go. I’m blogging from my hotel. Because the cheapskates at LJ have cut back on travel funding, I’m having to room with Chip. At the moment, he’s giving me my daily foot massage, and I’m a little distracted. So, um, more later in the week.
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