Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Melting in the Big Easy

New Orleans is much as I expected it to be at this time of year, sweltering and miserable outside, the only comforts being a semi-air conditioned tavern and a cold martini.

I say “semi” because anything else is intolerable. New Orleaners, if that’s what they’re called, seem to compensate for the ridiculously hot temperatures outside by creating ridiculously cold temperatures inside, so if you dress for the one you are bound to be very uncomfortable in the other.

I would Tweet that, but Twitter doesn’t allow for complex sentences or, based on reviewing the ALA tweets, complex thoughts.

At least that’s my impression after reading through numerous tweets about #ala11, which mostly seems to consist of the shallow talking to the bored, or perhaps vice versa.

It’s difficult to tell if the majority of Twitter users are just shallow and boring extroverts, or whether the limitations of Twitter means that people who aren’t always shallow and boring can only show that side of themselves, and feel compelled to.

There are clever, witty people who use Twitter. Most of the people commenting on #ala11 are not those people.

Nevertheless, I waded into the trough so you don’t have to. One person had to tweet that she was “Weighted down with swag.” Swag seems a popular item to accumulate from the exhibit hall. You might think swag was something valuable, but it usually consists in cheap pens, posters advertising things, the occasionally squeeze ball or tote bag or sticky note pad advertising things, i.e. a bunch of junk.

That’s why it seems incredible to watch librarians waddling through the exhibit call carrying as much of this junk as they can, sometimes wheeling suitcases behind them full of the kind of stuff many of us would toss out of our offices during a good cleaning. I can only wonder what the exhibitors think of these sad representatives of the profession.

Someone else found it important to tell us that he was “”Headed back to the exhibits because the session I was at was boring and not what I expected it to be.” Of course it was boring. Most of the sessions are boring. You really don’t need to tell us that.

I did glean quips from sessions I didn’t even attend, since Twitter acts sort of like a really dumbed down version of Cliff’s Notes.

For example, I hear that “Fear keeps us from innovating.” I didn’t get the context, naturally, but the statement seems false on the face of it. Inertia and laziness and a total lack of ideas keep us from innovating.

Or there’s this quote from the “Seriously Social” session: “If you’re not doing social media, you’re not on the Internet.” Without some context, it’s hard not to think this should have been called the “Seriously Stupid” session. Oh well, another fanatic loose at ALA.

Another poor soul was having trouble with the Internet connection at the convention center, though I never had a problem. “Thanks to MCC’s network difficulty I can’t share my insights in real time. :(”

I would also have a frowny face at that, except that you can’t have insights in real time. What you can have are shallow observations without reflection. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count as insight, so maybe we all, including the frowny-faced author, should be glad he couldn’t get on the Internet.

We also get keen political commentary, in short form: “Daniel Ellsberg is seeing significant parallels, on operational and political levels, between US wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan.” Let’s see, two prolonged wars against a guerrilla enemy that had never attacked the U.S., and who had previously successfully resisted occupation by aggressive European powers – wow, that Ellsberg sure sees something the rest of us couldn’t possibly see. Thanks for tweeting!

Another tells us that there are “Lots of interesting tweets coming out of #ala11 – thanks folks there and tweeting.” Yeah, sure there are.

There’s much more than tweeting going on at ALA. There’s also liveblogging!

But seriously, folks. There was a somewhat moving keynote speech by Dan Savage. As usual with ALA speakers, I’m not sure why Savage was invited, other than to make the liberal librarian crowd feel superior to bullying homophobes. I can do that without listening to a speech. Nevertheless, he was good.

Except for seeing relatively fewer enormous librarians wandering through the exhibits, the conference seems like usual. New librarians gaze about slightly bewildered. Librarians on the make seed bold sounding but unworkable ideas into gullible audiences.

However, the food is pretty good, the social life exhaustive for those of us with friends, and I found a nice quiet little bar that serves a decent martini and a better gin and tonic tucked away in the French Quarter. I’m not going to tell you what it is, though, because I don’t want libraran hoi polloi to show up AL-spotting. A gal needs her privacy.

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Comments

  1. Matt says:

    Dixie logic: once the temperature goes above 85, it is time for jeans and a sweater.

  2. Spencer says:

    “For example, I hear that “Fear keeps us from innovating.” I didn’t get the context, naturally, but the statement seems false on the face of it. Inertia and laziness and a total lack of ideas keep us from innovating.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! I’m so glad to see someone else say (or type rather) this truth!

    I am always curious as to why someone would attend this thing, as I’ve only ever attended a conference for a different profession. It seems the same though- more an excuse to get away and hang out with like minded people than anything else.

    But, don’t hate on twitter so much. It’s good for sharing links- and making fun of shallow people’s statements very quickly.

  3. Enormous Librarian says:

    “relatively fewer enormous librarians wandering through the exhibits”

    Damn, I guess AL didn’t spot me

  4. elena says:

    Oh, if I could only go back 20 years I would have decided on a different career path, because the conferences held by this profession make me sleep and cry, both at the same time even.

  5. You make me happy that I’m not at ALA, though it wasn’t really on my calendar to begin with. Still, I wouldn’t mind meeting up for the martini part! Thanks for wading through the tweets for us. I’ve sworn off twitter until people quit talking about the True Blood premier, which apparently required minute-by-minute tweets from HBO viewers everywhere….

  6. Jason says:

    I’ve just updated my email sig file:
    “Twitter: The shallow talking to the bored, or perhaps vice versa.”

    Thanks AL

  7. Bibliotecher says:

    ELENA, I wish you were my academic counselor before I enlisted for my MLIS.

    AL, if only I came across your blog before as well, it would have saved me from potentially wasting a lot of money and tears… mostly tears.

  8. Exhibitor says:

    The exhibitors don’t think any less of you for filling up on swag. I wasn’t at the conference (budget cuts ftw), but I can guarantee that at least those exhibitors from smaller presses with ever-dwindling budgets were probably wishing they too could load up on free stuff without appearing gauche.

  9. Thomas says:

    “Swag seems a popular item to accumulate from the exhibit hall. You might think swag was something valuable, but it usually consists in cheap pens, posters advertising things, the occasionally squeeze ball or tote bag or sticky note pad advertising things, i.e. a bunch of junk.

    That’s why it seems incredible to watch librarians waddling through the exhibit call carrying as much of this junk as they can, sometimes wheeling suitcases behind them full of the kind of stuff many of us would toss out of our offices during a good cleaning. I can only wonder what the exhibitors think of these sad representatives of the profession.”

    They’re called free and advance copies of books, aka what public librarians sometimes use to stay ahead of the curve when recommending books. Or were the pen-hoarders all academic librarians? :P

  10. Logic says:

    And you mean that you did not go to Commander’s for the 25cent lunch martinis??

    Shame on you!

    You forgot to check with the locals!

  11. Dee says:

    I enjoy being a librarian and I enjoyed ALA. It’s a good experience for people that are interested in networking. Especially new librarians who aren’t jaded and wanting career changes. If people hate being librarians so much why don’t they choose another career. I’m sure the jobs that they hate so much would be snapped up by some eager MLIS graduates who need the experience and aren’t bitter.

  12. Spencer says:

    @DEE,

    Yep, you should always ask why people who think the profession has problems why they don’t just walk away- instead of trying to FIX the problems. That’s the way to make hte profession better!

    Sorry, that might sound a little mean, but come on.