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ALA 2009: Notes Toward a Conference Report

Blogging on the run today. ALA is winding down, but the work’s not done for little old AL. When I get back home I’m going to write a bit more about the conference, but for now here are a few observations.

The Gage on Michigan makes a manhattan that’s out of this world. Genuine rye whiskey, just like it should be. Make sure you get the brandy-infused cherries.

Small women shouldn’t order too much steak at Shula’s.

I had an incredible meal Saturday night, but I can’t tell you where. Wouldn’t be prudent.

ALA attendees are getting older. It might not be a dying profession, but it’s a graying professional association. We need the kids to make enormous sacrifices to give me a reason to see friends on a perdiem.

The big news: libraries are broke.

Anytime I hear someone use the phrases "leaner and meaner" or "the new normal," I want to punch them in the back of the head, but I’m afraid it might ruin my nails.

McCormick is way too far from downtown, and after you take all the trouble to get there, it’s still not much to look at.

The Sears Tower now has glass observation boxes extending from the Skydeck. Words fail me.

Chicago is a great city, but it’s hard to play "Spot the Librarian," because there are so many locals and Midwestern tourists who are overweight and bad dressers.

Apparently, there was a Twitter ALA sex account called @alasecrets. Rather, there is an account, and apparently it was used for people to hook up at the conference. It’s shut down now. A kind reader pointed it out because it seems some bold wag has been impersonating the AL in the comments. The fake AL claimed to be the one who ruined everyone’s fun by logging into the account and changing the password so everyone was locked out. Anyone who thinks that I’d do something like that just doesn’t know the AL. I don’t care what people do as long as they don’t do it in the children’s section and scare the toddlers. Besides, between my conference business and my own rather active extracurricular activities, I certainly haven’t had time to bother with Twitter hookups at ALA. The AL doesn’t need Twitter, baby.

That’s it for now. Business calls. Library Journal ALA Annual Conference News

Click here for more ALA 2009 Conference News coverage from Library Journal and School Library Journal.



  1. Mr. Kat says:

    The big news: libraries are broke.


    And meanwhile ALA is off passing resolutions about Social Issues instead of being a Serious Professional Orcanization poised on topics that actual impact Library service.

    My Graydar is sensing a large group of old farts who aren’t even old farts just hitting their mid-life crises and trying to act out their worldy ambitions through a puppet profesisonal organization. Good luck recruiting young people to your organization!!! {We’re smarter than this, you know??}

  2. SALibrarian says:

    Why is it the young dismiss the older so casually, Mr. Kat? Many of them can work rings around young arrogant know-nothings. There are just as many young slackers as there are older – of course, I’m sure you don’t fall into the slacker group.

  3. Spoken like a true journalist and not a librarian?

    When is the American Journalism Conference?

  4. another f-ing librarian says:

    re. ‘the old’. many of us are also ‘the hip’ and have done things in our lives that would curl the hair of ‘the young’.

    re. brokeness. now that we’re not just whining about being broke but are also truly and actually broke, maybe we will finally figure out as a group what we need to do to be observably important, rather than just running around bleating about how important we are.

    if we can keep other disciplines from eating our lunch.

  5. fat and grumpy says:

    Or drinking our milkshake

  6. What about ALA-APA says:

    I’d like to hear more about how Jenifer Grady is increasing all our salaries.

  7. I can list the names of 25 of my fellow young librarians, aged 24-27, who attended the conference. Most of us attended for only one day, because we couldn’t get more time off, or are unemployed. I can list the rest of my classmates/alumnae who couldn’t go at all. We want to go, we just can’t get there

  8. Techserving You says:

    Love The Gage. Further love the fact that I have been there at times when I was probably the only librarian in the place. Thank God.

  9. Mr. Kat says:

    Oh I certianly agree, SALibrarian, there are many lazy among the youth.

    Do I need to remind you who our role models [parents] are?

    You generation certainly did do things that would make our toes curl – and it shows in your performance today.

    The budget cuts are coming. The youth will show you just how little your job is worth!! [aka how little they are willing to do the job!]

  10. decent-looking straight guy says:

    3M stopped paying for the New Members Roundtable to have that dance (with the dj and the cash bar with overpriced drinks). In the past, there were actually some cute librarians at that event. Decent-looking Straight Girl (my significant other) prefers I not actually hook up with them needless to say, but graciously allowed me to dance with them in the past. Alas, this time NMRT only had a little awards ceremony with relatively lame hors d’oeuvres. Two relatively well-dressed girls came in late looking around like they were expecting the traditional dance-floor, so I have to wonder what’s up with 3M that they disappoint the young, sociable cute librarians. Oh well.

  11. If they were relatively well dressed and attractive, they were prostitutes hired by some vendor.

  12. ChickenLittle says:

    decent-looking straight guy….you must be a “hot commodity” at library conferences!! the last conference I went to the only good looking men or women were the vendors and they all had wedding rings! The rest were pretty dowdy looking!

  13. decent-looking straight guy says:

    To AL=RK: No, these were librarians. The attractive and well-dressed ones may be few and far between, but there were always a few at the 3M dance when it existed. Besides, no library vendor would have the guts to hire prostitutes, and the kind of people with enough money and purchasing power to make that kind of thing “worthwhile” to a corrupt vendor wouldn’t be at an ALA social event anyway.

    to ChickenLittle: yeah, there’s way more good-looking vendors than librarians, and the attractive librarians are few and far between, but they’re out there. Most are married or taken I’ll admit. But, hey, I met decent-looking straight girl (who I personally think is better named hot straight girl, but she’s too modest) at a library conference, so what the he**…..

  14. dlsg — I always thought that vendors would hire Fred Garvin to work the librarians of the female persuasion.

  15. *But, hey, I met decent-looking straight girl (who I personally think is better named hot straight girl, but she’s too modest) at a library conference*

    At least librarians still have a vivid imagination these days.

  16. decent-looking straight guy says:

    “At least librarians still have a vivid imagination these days.”

    Speak for yourself. Some imagine it, some live it.

    To each their own though.

  17. nerdgonewild says:

    I’m a library assistant who just finished the MLIS degree. I feel like an oddball becuase well, I’m kinda normal. Why would I want to associate with more eccentric people than I already do at work? Besides, why waste my (non-existent) salary on some conference where older librarians discuss irrelevant topics like gay marriage? Why not discuss the shrinking job market for librarians, the closing and reduction of hours of existing libraries, or maybe how to recruit a workforce that is not a. socially akward, b. misanthropic, c. fire-breathing politicos, or d. want to do more than occupy space???? Answer me that, ALA!!! I doubt I’ll renew my ALA membership or waste my time going to stinking conferences.

  18. booth babe says:

    As one of those mythical single and good-looking vendor types let me just say I wholeheartedly approve of whatever will get librarians laid if it means fewer undersexed librarians stalking around my booth.

    Asking every inane question about the product you can think of trying to keep an interaction going for 30 minutes while you have that puppy-dog-wanting-a-treat look on your face and no apparent understanding of the concept of personal space is about as un-sexy as it gets. After paying $500 a day for internet access, it has to be the worst thing about doing library shows.

    For god’s sake just get it out there and slip me your card with your private number or something so I can get back to making my livelihood. I’m not going to call you, but at least I won’t hate you for eternity for messing with my sales. Or better yet go talk your library director into buying our product. That might actually get you somewhere…

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