Annoyed Librarian
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Viva Las Vegas

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.

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Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    Nefarious plan to unmask AL. Print a bunch of bogus business cards. Fly to Vegas. Hand them out to every librarian I come across. I could even hire some of those annoying guys who stand on the sidewalks slapping pamphlets for escort services only they’re holding my business cards instead.

    Then we sit back and wait for the librarian who responds “Why would I want this?”

  2. Matthew Williams says:

    First of all, how do you transform a core value. Isn’t the fact that they are the “core” mean they are the solid bedrock upon which we build everything else? You can’t transform something like that. That’s the whole point of having them.

    Also, networking is just code for let’s go out and drink a lot.

  3. Kaylin says:

    You can make a meaningful connection with someone in your field and call it networking without either party attempting to get a promotion out of the deal.

  4. Kay says:

    “‘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.”

    Actually, Vitae just ran a series of articles the other week talking about the lingering stereotypes for women having children in academia. The statistics are rather scary and personally I’ve experienced the dilemma as well. Not to mention that paid maternity leave and changing attitudes has been a key part of President and Michelle Obama’s White House Summit on Working Families.

    https://chroniclevitae.com/news/569-are-children-career-killers?cid=vem

  5. me says:

    On the state level networking has been very helpful for me. I’ve offered my assistance and received calls from librarians at other libraries around the state. Then when I was applying for another job in the state wide consortium I’m positive that their phone calls (outside of listed references) assisted me in getting the new position. Grabbing random business cards at a national conference is less effective I imagine.

    As far as the “transformation” of core values is concerned let me take a crack at understanding it. “…but one on ‘Using Apps and eBooks in Early Literacy Programs’? Is there a core value there?” I think what they are trying to say here is that “Early Literacy” is a core value of a (public) library. Something that I think we can all agree on. The “transformation” piece is using apps and eBooks to promote and perform that core value which is relatively new in the past few years. That’s how I’m interpreting it at least.

  6. Speaking of networking, if any librarians hear ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom speaking about me (generally) or Megan Fox/Kevin DuJan (regarding the Orland Park Public Library), please tell me what was said and forward any handouts, URLs, etc. You should all know that Barbara Jones specifically named me as the person she needed to know if I attended her training because if so, she would have to dumb down that training. As I’m not @ALAAnnual, her OIF talking about me or about how to destroy public documents to hide various things from the public might be rip roaring exciting. So thanks, anyone, who helps me out in this area. I’ll keep it anonymous. Of course you could just not tell me because you agree with her that local populations should be misled about the law and public documents should be destroyed or otherwise hidden or not created in the first place.

  7. Midwest SciTech Librarian says:

    AL I really hope you do attend the “Boba Fett at the Circ Desk: Library Leadership Lessons from The Empire Strikes Back.” program. Those of us not attending need to know what kind of leadership we can learn from a fictional bounty hunter/outlaw for hire. Are there lessons on how to freeze troublesome patrons in carbonite? Or is the emphasis on spreading out resources across the galaxy in search of one rebel with powers of the Force to let him know who his daddy is?

  8. Frumious Bandersnatch says:

    I already know how they’re transforming library workforces…caps on raises, if there are any raises at all, reduced benefits, getting rid of full time staff in favor of part time staff, getting rid of MLS staff in favor of non-degreed staff, remaining perpetually understaffed, (because apparently, if you’re a patriotic public servant, you don’t mind working three jobs in the hours, and for the money you’re supposed to get for one)….

  9. Peter Ward says:

    Hmmm, Las Vegas? Interesting choice of venue. Talking about core values in Sin City. Who says ALA doesn’t have a great sense of humor.

  10. dan cawley says:

    What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. With luck, the word “intentionality” will stay in Vegas and out of the profession.

    The Crystal Ball, however, could be useful–Futurism is the next wave of library consultantcy.

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