I’m trying to ignore the fact that I just got back earlier this week from a little holiday traveling, and I already have to leave tomorrow for ALA Midwinter. It seems like it comes earlier and earlier each year. At this rate, Annual will be in June and Midwinter in July.
At least it’s in San Diego this year. I hate making that long journey over flyover country, but I have to admit I could use some warmer weather and less snow. It could be worse; it could be New Orleans in June, which is what it’s going to be in June.
I wanted to write about silly programs I wouldn’t be going to, but there aren’t any programs at Midwinter. Then I thought, discussion groups! I tried to download the schedule here. Supposedly it’s a program that will download the schedule in various easy to read formats. The only format I could get was certainly easy to read, since nothing downloaded. Hey, ALA, PDF ain’t fancy, but it works. Keep that in mind.
Eventually I went old school, PDF style, only to discover that the discussion groups are pretty dull and practical. Not much fun there.
The main thing I’m excited about is that ALA wants to keep the Midwinter Meeting, which for me means keeping the party going. The ALA Council is supposed to discuss a new White Paper about the Midwinter meeting. The White Paper put forth all sorts of reasons to keep having a live meeting, even though lots of librarians are whining about their funding and many committees work virtually.
The reasons weren’t too bad, as these things go. One of the reasons to keep having Midwinter is that librarians keep coming to Midwinter. I can’t tell if that’s clever or a circular argument. But it is good for people who only go to regional meetings. The in-person discussions are different than online discussions. In-person networking is often more effective, if less convenient, than online.
My favorite reason in the White Paper is, “Sustaining energy, enthusiasm and momentum.” “Midwinter,” the White Paper claims, “provides an opportunity to regroup, reinvigorate and recharge for those whose efforts span thousands of miles and thousands of individual libraries. This is particularly true of advocacy efforts and complex projects involving many individuals and many units.”
This is also particularly true for drinks and dinner efforts involving many individuals and complex schedules, I can tell you! The real reason to keep the Midwinter Meeting is to keep the party going! And if ALA is mostly work for you, then you’re not doing it right!
If you get the right invitations and know the right people, you can even keep the party going with someone else’s money, if you can just get there. Those vendors love to wine and dine people.
And for those who can’t get there, well, that’s just too bad, I guess. The ALA does not share your pain! “Ultimately, members ‘vote with their feet’ – and Midwinter attendance has held up remarkably well.” So take that, poor librarians!
The White Paper ends with the amusingly titled “Vision: The Midwinter Meeting.” Read in full how ALA does the vision thing:
The ALA Midwinter Meeting includes core governance activities such as meetings of the ALA Council and various Boards, as well as many committees. It also includes orientation activities; exhibits; a wide array of discussion and interest groups, as well as other networking activities; and, formal updates or forums which provide an opportunity to both update members on legislative issues, research and other matters and to hear member input on ALA positions and actions. There are also Pre/Post-Midwinter Institutes – regional educational events attached to the Midwinter Meeting. Numerous other library-related groups hold meetings and educational events in conjunction with the Midwinter Meeting, allowing participants to make most effective use of precious travel funds. The ALA Midwinter Meeting is, above all, about conversations and networking.
So, basically, the “vision” for Midwinter is pretty much what Midwinter has been for years. ALA is looking far into the future…to 1975! When times are a-changing rapidly and the future is uncertain, I feel better knowing that some things never change. ALA’s conservatism keeps hope alive for those who enjoy the conferences primarily for socializing. Don’t go changin’, ALA! This is one thing I actually like about you!