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The Silliness Wrapup

I’ve just about recovered from my travels to Anaheim. Hot sun, expensive taxis, no decent food within easy walking distance of the convention center…the perfect place to have a conference.

There was plenty going on, that’s for sure. The exhibits floor was jam packed with librarians who think proper aisle behavior is either standing still in the middle of the aisle or walking so slowly you want to punch them in the back of the head.

If you wanted free food or booze, there was plenty of that on hand if you knew where to look. Some of it was even good, which is better than being free.

Speaking of free stuff, there was also some silliness at ALA. You might be aware that publishers give away a lot of free books at ALA. As the conference wanes, they start handing out books willy-nilly to anyone who passes by, even if those folks are not (gasp!) really librarians. It’s a scandal!

Or at least some people think it’s such a scandal that they want ALA to make special rules to keep those people from hogging all the free books. A kind reader sent this link to a blog post by a librarian outraged that some non-librarians got a bunch of free advanced reading copies (or ARCs) that she wasn’t able to snag for herself.

She should have been the one getting those free books, because not only is she a librarian, but she’s a blogger. A blogger! And we know how important those people are!

All that rage towards a couple of women who managed to do what she wanted to do herself but couldn’t seems a bit petty, and the whole brouhaha is more bizarre when she could just ask publishers to send her ARCs, which she admits in the blog post. If there’s a point to this outrage, I don’t get it.

And if you want to read some meandering commentary, you can search Twitter for #ARCgate, where you will find the usual Twitter discussion – short on substance, long on self-expression.

Regardless of the fake controversy roiling the few people who care about this nonsense, somehow I doubt ALA is going to change how it charges for conferences because of a whiny blogger, but who knows. After all, the ALA Council has stopped taking politically motivated resolutions totally unrelated to libraries seriously, and that could be because of one whiny library blogger with a sense of entitlement.

For example, those crazy SRRT people are still trying to make the ALA Council into their political mouthpiece, even for topics that have nothing to do with libraries.

This time they had two different Wikileaks resolutions, even though the Council has voted down support for Wikileaks before. There was the “Resolution on Access to Information and Wikileaks,” plus the “Resolution in Support of Whistleblower Bradley Manning” just in case people didn’t want to support a resolution with Wikileaks in the title.

Someone should have told them that Wikileaks is soooo last year.

The first resolution is related to libraries because “the American Library Association has signed a joint letter with many other organizations asking the Unites States government to reverse its order to US government agencies blocking access to WikiLeaks,” which is totally different from supporting Wikileaks itself.

The Bradley Manning resolution is even stranger. Some of the rationale? “Whereas Daniel Ellsberg has compared the actions of which Manning is accused to the release of the Pentagon Papers….” So another case having nothing to do with libraries is somewhat comparable to this case. Well, when you put it that way, of course I understand.

Oh, and “the American Library Association has strongly supported the principle of government accountability and the protection of whistleblowers.” Everyone but politicians, government contractors, and lobbyists supports the principle of government accountability, so that doesn’t really mean much.

Regardless of the alleged ill treatment of Bradley Manning, it’s still not a library issue, and the ALA calling on the Army to release Manning and drop the charges against him would look silly.

There was a time not many years ago when this kind of nonsense was hotly debated by Council, with earnest librarians wasting the time of their fellow councilors talking for hours on end until the bedraggled councilors voted “yes” just to shut them up. Those were the pre-AL days.

These days? They were both voted down with hardly a discussion.

Another SRRT resolution on voter suppression did pass, though it’s odd that the ALA should oppose voter ID laws and yet libraries usually require ID and a proof of residence to get a library card. Everyone knows individual votes are worthless anyway, so why require an ID. Whereas not returning library books might get you thrown in jail.

Council saved the serious discussion for a resolution that “School Libraries and Librarians are Critical to Educational Success,” in which 200 librarians got up and spoke for 20 minutes each in favor of the resolution, or so it seemed at the time. Anyway, it passed. It won’t help school libraries much, but at least it has something to do with libraries.

There was probably more silliness at ALA, but I was too busy socializing and enjoying the free food and drink to notice.

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Comments

  1. anonymous says:

    All free books do is put your suitcase over limit. Which is why the publishers don’t want to haul them back and why they get rid of them as quickly as possible to whomever will take them off their hands. I’m guessing if the publishers saw a problem here, they’d do something about it. From 50,000 feet, ARCgate looks petty. If I were walking the floor looking for ARCs, I’d ask for an ebook, thank you very much.

  2. pdflibrarian says:

    I don’t get the ARC thing, publishers seem happy to hand out books to whoever, so why does it matter. Next year at ALA I am going to collect as many pens, coinpurses, and totebags as I can, and post a 22 minute video on youtube bragging about my spoils – that should really push some buttons.

  3. J. says:

    Now I’m an Annoyed Librarian. You totally missed the boat on this one. The bone of contention was a 22 minute long video in which a blogger & her sister, showed us the more than 150 ARCs each that they “looted” (their term) during ALA12. They spent $25 each for access to the Exhibits Hall for all 4 days of the conference. They admitted to grabbing every ARC they could. They even laughed about it being socially unacceptable, but they did it anyway.

    Contrast that with an ALA member who is active on committees who couldn’t even get the 5 ARCs she wanted for work purposes and she paid $230 for the conference.

    I don’t consider it sour grapes to point out a problem that may be resolved by changing the rules concerning Exhibits only passes. The Blogger you call silly, petty, and whiny suggested that Exhibit only passes be available only for one day of the conference. I suggest the price structure be changed to $25 for one day access to the Exhibits. Neither of these suggestions would be out of line with other Library or similar professional conferences. Both could help to control what was admittedly unacceptable behavior.

    Note: I can’t link to that video anymore. The blogger took it down after 1000 views with 3 likes and 198 dislikes. I think she may have gotten the message even if you didn’t.

  4. Anon says:

    “After all, the ALA Council has stopped taking politically motivated resolutions totally unrelated to libraries seriously, and that could be because of one whiny library blogger with a sense of entitlement.”

    Thank you. Thank you so much for that. I read that post and her Twitter rants and thought, “Wow. What a brat.” It’s an industry event, so it makes sense that the librarians should get to look at the books first, I would think. But wow – to write a whole post whining about it and making the ridiculous points she did took it over the top.

    I mean, is receiving ARCs THAT crucial to being a librarian? Can one do the job without them (that’s a serious question, not snark). Or are they THAT important to “To develop as professionals in librarianship”?

  5. um says:

    I think you’ve missed the point. About all of it.

  6. Librarian Ida says:

    If ARCs aren’t useful to your work, trying to access them without having to hunt each one down from the publishers would seem trivial.

    I thought the post on Stacked was an articulate expression of one librarian’s opinion on the matter. But apparently expressing an honest opinion on the Internet makes her a “whiny blogger with a sense of entitlement.”

    Way to elevate the discussion with name-calling, Annoyed Librarian. Stay c̶l̶a̶s̶s̶y̶ petty!

  7. David Caruso says:

    From the reactions I’ve read to your post, AL, it looks like these book bloggers can’t handle…
    *puts on sunglasses*
    A negative review.
    YEEEEAHHHHHHHH

  8. spencer says:

    I’m so glad I didn’t go. The profession makes me sad.

  9. Midwest SciTech Librarian says:

    “I’m a paying member of ALA and of YALSA and of PLA and of ALSC, and I attended the conference because I had committee obligations this year. Because I’m working. Because I was giving a presentation to librarian colleagues. Money is incredibly tight right now because I’m not working a regular job. I paid out of pocket for my memberships in both associations, as well as for my plane ticket, my hotel room, my transportation to and from the airport, around Anaheim, for my meals. I don’t get reimbursed. Every penny I spent at ALA was a penny I couldn’t spend on other things.”

    1. Cut out PLA, YALSA & ALSC and you’ll save $130 off the bat.
    2. If you’re under-employed, you should have been spending time at the placement center not at the exhibit hall trolling for freebies.
    3. Whining about it on your blog (see #2)

    “Librarians are missing the chance to pick up a book that they want to read. For themselves.” — Have you checked your local public library for books to check out? It’s a system that works for staff as well as patrons.

  10. Solo Boy says:

    So if I, as a librarian, paid full price to attend ALA and DIDN’T get the free ARC books I wanted, who can I complain to? Gee, after all, some other less “deserving” librarian(s) got the books I wanted!

    Oh, and I suppose I can complain on my library blog about how a couple of bottom feeders got the stuff I should have gotten…

    SB

  11. Evan Banned says:

    Webster’s Emmanuel Lewis defines “conference” as “a meeting of two or more persons for discussing matters of common concern, especially involving a small child of alternate race moving in with a football player. Often confused with whatever Willis may be ‘talkin’ bout.’”

    I even looked in real dictionaries and no mention of ARCs or “swag” (I said the “s” word, deal with it) of any kind is mentioned. Anyone complaining they did not get enough free stuff is simply missing the point of a conference. Namely, to get together with others and shamelessly be able to talk about work without bothering to wonder if your spouse or significant other is doing that yawn thing. Socialization should be the reason for going to a conference, maybe even furthering the profession by discussing important topics. If you are worrying about your blog the entire time, you are missing out on meeting the only people that might actually want to read what you write.

    As for the Wikileak debate, I liked the debate better when it was about Bittorrent.

    This comment was sponsored by Question Marks Make Ethical Nerds Timely (QUEMMENT)

  12. Luxembourg at Fleurus says:

    Advanced review copies? WTF? How ’bout that at the twitter meetup this year there were more non-obese, nicely-dressed librarians this year than usual…including some hot, smart girls I got to flirt with (and more).