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ALA Midwinter: Boring So Far!

If you didn’t make it to the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, don’t worry about it. You haven’t missed much so far. Midwinter, for those not in the know, is not a conference. It’s a meeting. So for those people who keep referring to it as a conference, just stop now. ALA doesn’t like it when you talk that way, and you wouldn’t want to annoy the ALA, now would you?

It should be called Midwinter Meetings, because there are about 40,000 meetings at the conference (it’s okay, ALA doesn’t frighten me), approximately 10 for everyone involved. At these meetings, we sit around and do important library organization things, like drink coffee, complain about how broke our libraries are, make dinner plans, figure out which book or person should win which unimpressive prize, and wonder if we shouldn’t be doing this virtually,

Speaking of unimpressive prizes, the "meeting" opened with a raffle on the exhibit floor Friday evening, with vendors giving away various prizes. I really wanted to win the Wine & Country Gift Basket from Wilson, figuring I could keep the wine and give the "country" to some of my friends who work in rural libraries and like that sort of thing, or at the very least the complete DVD set of All Creatures Great and Small from the BBC to give to my mother the Anglophile. Instead I won the Penguin Classics Surprise. Just what I needed, yet another copy of Pride and Prejudice. Oh well. Maybe next year.

Then there was AL Gore speaking on Saturday. He seemed in good form, going on about climate change and all. But the whole time I kept wondering what the carbon footprint of this conference was. And when the counting and recounting was done, I’m still not sure he really used to be the next President of the United States, but that’s neither here nor there.

As usual, I’m reporting on the martini situation. It’s not good. I was at one restaurant with a very long "martini" list, only the restaurant bar didn’t stock gin. It was appalling. Boston may be the Cradle of Liberty, but any city that would give a liquor license to a restaurant like that has got to be doing something wrong. The Big Dig was nothing compared to this fiasco.

Boston itself was enjoyable for the most part, though the large number of homeless was a bit depressing. I began to feel so bad for them out in the cold that I came home with 24 issues of "Spare Change News." One of them was sold to me by an old guy touting the leading story about a possible legalization of medical marijuana in Massachusetts. "They’re gonna legalize marijuana. That’s a good thing! I smoke it all the time." He seemed by far the jolliest of the homeless I saw, so perhaps Massachusetts could also legalize marijuana use for the homeless. It’s just a thought.

Council seems to be heating up. So far there’s been a lot of talk about a resolution concerning a very important issue: the ALA Event Planner. Someone was complaining about it, then someone else suggested the problem was some other thing, then everyone agreed, then people kept complaining anyway, or something like that. Council is so bloody boring and the same people always chatter on about stuff that I tend to doze off anytime I visit. When I do show up, I usually bring a book. It helps pass the time.

My favorite was the resolution to make this a year of cataloging research! I think that was it, anyway. My goodness, these ALA Councilors work on exciting stuff! I’m also pretty sure there’s going to be something about Haitian libraries, which is good because I think there are a lot of American libraries in Haiti, and I think we should support them all.

The ALA-APA is also in trouble, it seems, because it can’t support itself with all the exciting stuff it’s been offering the members. I can’t think of any exciting stuff, which is probably why no one has been paying for it. They do that certification program for library support staff. The pity is it doesn’t actually certify them for anything. I thought the ALA-APA was supposed to try to remedy the problem that amidst the ALA-proclaimed librarian shortage there was a huge number of un- or underemployed librarians and many more earning terrible wages. I guess we see how that’s going.

I sense an exciting story on the horizon, but now I have to go. I’m blogging from my hotel. Because the cheapskates at  LJ have cut back on travel funding, I’m having to room with Chip. At the moment, he’s giving me my daily foot massage, and I’m a little distracted. So, um, more later in the week.

Visit LJ‘s ALA Midwinter Meeting News Channel for complete coverage of the conference and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Flickr.



  1. Techserving You says:

    Hmm. First of all, marijuana is already decriminalized in Mass, which is essentially “legal,” since cops do not plan to fine people who possess or use less than whatever the decriminalized amount is.

    I used to hate being harrassed by people trying to get me to buy Spare Change. I was once actually chased into my unnamed Cambridge library, which fortunately had a guard posted at the door to keep out the riff-raff, which were plentiful.

    And… I think you probably found the one bar in Boston that doesn’t stock gin.

  2. Bagman (formerly Saklad) says:

    Boston Public library has security guards on duty to make sure that no one has access to the inner financials of that gin soaked place.

    Too bad Al Gore did not address that major issue.

  3. library guy says:

    You’re in Boston!? ! Bring me back a T-shirt!!!

  4. Kathy M Miller says:

    Amidst the boredom of the ‘meetings’ did
    you happen to notice the fresh faced
    Chipmunk peering at you from the cover of
    my new book “Chippy Chipmunk Parties in
    the Garden” at the CBE booth? Since LJ’s policy is to NOT review self-published books, paying for our books to
    be displayed is one way for our books
    to get noticed by libraries. If you missed him, the link is – The cutest chipmunk you’ll ever see!

  5. A person who self publishes a book is a blogger that is independently wealthy.

    Give your nuts a rest, Chippy.

  6. Marianne789 says:

    I stopped going to Midwinter Meetings a few years ago. ALA goes on and on and on about new blood and new voices and meanwhile the same 10 people keep running AND getting elected to Council There oughta be rules about that. And if you’re not one of those old ones who’ve been recycling themselves through council year after year (and you ALA past presidents know who you are) it seems some of their offspring are managing to get elected.
    BO-RING. Ho Hum. I started going to SLA where they actually have some really heavy duty relevant programming.

  7. Yeah, LJ and ALA would hate to pay any attention to anything that isn’t published by a major commercial publisher, because nothing screams intellectual freedom like the ongoing corporatization of information.

  8. self-publish this! says:

    Kat –

    What, LJ and ALA should wade – FLIPPIN’ WADE!!! – through the ocean of self-published books/poems/novels by hack writers who shopped them around to publishers from coast to coast, none of whom got picked up because they aren’t worth reading? Since the advent of desk-top publishing everyone is an author, a writer, and good. Not.

  9. self publish that! says:

    People have given up on desk-top publishing.

    Now they are bloggers.

    AL is their king/queen.

  10. ALA-APA is getting more exciting. They’re offering a librarian makeovers (lose the frump!) session at Annual. That provoked some discussion in at least one meeting.

  11. Techserving You says:

    I saw that in the preliminary list of programs. I was actually going to e-mail the AL so that she/he might write an entry about it. WHAT other profession would, at a professional convention, offer a program about the physical image of the profession and how to make oneself over. PULEASE. Still I want to go to that program just for the entertainment, but I know my library is going to want to know what programs I attended (so they’ll get their money’s worth!) and I certainly cannot mention one that.

  12. Techserving You says:

    THAT ONE not ONE THAT. What’s wrong with me tonight?

  13. I went to Chippy’s site, and that is one cute chipmink! And why be so nasty about someone’s enthusiasm, anyway?

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