ALA Annual in Las Vegas has officially begun and it’s a scorcher, at least by my standards. Although the National Weather Service thinks 104 degrees is merely “sunny” in Vegas and it doesn’t get “hot” until 106 degrees, so what do I know.
But it’s a dry heat, and nobody ever died of heat stroke in a dry heat, or something like that.
As with some other conference locations (I’m looking at you, Orlando!), I wonder why people pick a city like this for a conference. Hot. Not exactly pedestrian friendly compared to many other cities.
Perhaps the committee that chose it was made up of compulsive gamblers. And it’s easy to be compulsive. I’ve already lost $2.25 on the quarter slots, and it’s still early.
It’s more important to focus on the opportunities than the inopportune location, though. This year, ALA helpfully categorized the programs about “transforming libraries.” Maybe that will be the new Library 2.0, because there are conference speakers who need a new shtick and I need something new to make fun of.
I don’t quite understand some of the category placements, though. For example, one area of transformation is “Core Values.” I guess I can see a program on “Ethics in Action: libraries and law enforcement” in there, but one on “Using Apps and eBooks in Early Literacy Programs”? Is there a core value there?
You might also be interested in “Transforming: Community Relationships.” Somebody must be. One of the programs is “Turning Outward to Lead Change in Your Community: Intentionality.” I had no idea what that meant, so I Googled intentionality and checked the top two results.
According to Wikipedia, “Intentionality is a philosophical concept defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as ‘the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs.” Huh.
The second hit was the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which explained that “Intentionality is the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs.” So I guess Wikipedia was right.
Still, it sounds a bit heavy for an ALA conference.
If you’re interested in “Transforming: Customer & User Expectations,” you can go to a presentation called “Looking Clearly into the Crystal Ball.” That sounds easier to understand.
“Transforming: Library Leadership Expectations—Staff and Boards” brings us “Boba Fett at the Circ Desk: Library Leadership Lessons from The Empire Strikes Back.”
If I remember correctly, Boba Fett is eventually killed in a comic fashion in Return of the Jedi, so I guess leadership lessons from that movie wouldn’t be as effective. At least the geeks will be happy.
If you want to know how library workforces are transforming, you can go to “Are You Taking a Gamble on Your Academic Library Career by Having a Baby (or Two)?”
You’re certainly taking less of a gamble than if you were working for some big private corporation, that’s for sure. But is that really transforming staff? Plenty of academic librarians have had babies over the years and most of them seem just fine.
Besides the heat and the gambling, other librarians I’ve come across online seem excited by the networking opportunities. This seems especially true of the newer librarians.
They were probably told in library school about the importance of networking. I seem to recall being told something like that back when I was in library school sometime in the last millennium.
I’m still not even sure what networking is particularly good for, though. Meeting random librarians at functions and exchanging business cards seems pointless.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a professional opportunity that emerged that way or ever met someone who could further my career.
The latter is the icky part of networking for me. The hustling networkers are either desperate or just seem that way. “Here, take my card! Help me in some way!”
And that’s the thing. The serious networkers are all about how to get others to help them, even though most others aren’t going to be able to help them at all.
From the other side, I want to ask, so what are you going to do for me?
Just to see what happens, every time someone hands me a business card at this conference, I’ll look at it and ask, “Why would I want this?”
And now, back to the casino so I can gamble some more before the real ALA action starts.