Annoyed Librarian
Search ....
Subscribe to LJ
Inside Annoyed Librarian

ALA Programs I Won’t Be Attending

Sheesh, ALA Annual is just around the corner and I’m definitely not ready. Last week I was too busy reading the comments telling me how progressive Mississippi is these days to start planning my conference schedule.

Today I was looking through the conference program descriptions, and I can at least point out some places you won’t be seeing the AL.

“Starting Out? Start With You: What Every New Librarian Needs to Know”

Obviously I’m not a new librarian (or am I?!), so I don’t need to go to this. But then came the description: “Are you a new librarian seeking to share your bright ideas, enthusiasm, and fresh perspective?” If you are, then I have a suggestion for you, keep them to yourself. Nobody’s really interested in your bright ideas or your enthusiasm, or your fresh perspective for that matter. That’s all that you really need to know so you don’t annoy the rest of us and harm your career by enthusing your bright perspectives all over us. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Besides, you might learn something.

“The (Screen) Casting Couch: Tips and Tricks to Effectively Use Screencasting Tools for Library Instruction”

I’m glad I’m not easily offended, because this one has sexist, inappropriate pun written all over it. One wonders if the presenters know that a “casting couch” is where male directors and producers “audition” starlet manques by having sex with them in return for maybe casting the young women in movies. So what’s the gist here? Screencasting software, or perhaps its sales reps, are supposed to have sex with us in return for maybe buying the product? Ewww.

“Burning Man, Libraries, and the 21st Century: the Intersection of the Individual and Society”

This one really seems like a stretch. I doubt the hippies and social misfits who gather in the desert for Burning Man each year create a library. The first sentence is as pretentious as Burning Man itself. “Can you imagine living in a city where censorship does not exist?” Not only can I imagine it, but I actually live in it, and not just one week a year. I doubt we even have “censorship” in the inflated, nonsensical ALA sense of the word since we don’t have a lot of rubes complaining to the librarians about how Harry Potter is going to turn their precious little ones into witches.

“Blasphemy! When Religious Values Clash with Intellectual Freedom Values”

Blasphemy, how 17th century. Since I don’t live in a theocracy, I already know what to do when those two values clash. Tell the self-righteous that if they don’t like free speech they can go back to whatever fascist country spawned them and leave freedom and prosperity for the rest of us. Is this decision really that hard for librarians?

“From Urban to Suburban: shifting youth demographics and library service for  teens”

I bet this one would have been a HOT topic about 40 years ago, when all the youth were shifting to the suburbs.


“Battledecks represent the ultimate challenge for a public speaker as they are challenged to give a coherent presentation based on hand-selected, seemingly unrelated slides that they see for the very first time live on stage.” That sounds like most of the library talks I’ve ever seen. “Hilarity, along with some learning, is guaranteed for all!” Guaranteed, huh? And what happens if we don’t find it hilarious? Do we get our money back? Do we get to inflict revenge on the presenters? I bet we get nothing.

“Sixth Annual Book Cart Drill Team Championship”

This one pretty much speaks for itself. And people wonder why the public doesn’t take librarians seriously. “Those crazy librarians can’t get enough of their book carts!” I can’t remember the last time I actually touched a book cart.

“Grassroot Program – Purple Crayons, Random Dots, and Peanut Butter Sandwiches: Children’s Literature as Catalyst for Creativity and Change in the Workplace”

Wow. This one is presented by an academic library director. One has to wonder what sort of academic librarians are going to enjoy having their director hold storytime during staff meetings. It’s labeled “Staff Support Interests,” so it could just be that the support staff will be infantilized and not the professional librarians, which doesn’t make it any better in my book. I don’t think we’ll be trying this one in my library.

“Passing the Baton: Who Will Take It?”

I bet you can guess what false assumptions this one is based on: more librarian shortage nonsense. “There are 72 million baby boomers, 11,000 Americans turn 50 every day, 4.6 adults turn 65 each minute, and almost 60% of librarians are 45 or older. There is little balance: only 7% of the library work force is age 20-29!” The exclamation point really drives these irrelevant facts home!  “Not surprisingly the profession worldwide is asking ‘who will run the libraries when this talent leaves?’” Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re not asking. Do the presenters really think this is going to be a problem, or do they just need something to speak about to put on their resumes? When the “talent” leaves, libraries will run themselves just fine, if the “talent” and budget cuts haven’t already destroyed them. Is there no end of this nonsense?

“Grassroot Program – Recruiting Undergraduates to the Library Profession: A Melton [sic] Success Story”

Apparently, there isn’t an end to this nonsense. Get a load of this one: “By the end of the next decade, nearly 60% of current librarians will reach retirement age. This shortage could reach crisis proportions if it is  not addressed quickly.” Crisis proportions! Oh, dear! Has the penny not dropped yet? There’s not going to be a crisis! Wake up! I think this is supposed to be a “Mellon Success Story,” but the only success was in suckering more money from Mellon for useless library projects. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Next time I’ll talk about the ones I’ll definitely be attending because they’ll be so much fun!


Please note that new comments for all posts on this blog have been closed.


  1. The programs above are about 75% of my conference schedule. There goes my dream of having a martini or two with the AL… I bet if you show up to these programs, and have a martini or two, you’ll enjoy the hell out of them.

  2. So, we’ll see you at Open Gaming Night? :)

  3. Annoyed Librarian says:

    Britt, you’re probably right. With a couple of martinis, I probably would enjoy them!

  4. Quick Study says:

    Why don’t you just get drunk on the company dime and go heckle every presentation.

    Face it, drunk on your ass, you are smarter and a more engaging than anyone else.

  5. Why would anyone want to go to the ALA conference anyway? Waste…of…time.

  6. Quick Study says:

    Why would anyone want to go to the ALA conference anyway? Waste…of…time.

    That is why we want the AL to go. We can get a first hand report on the proceedings and will have a good handle of what to scoff at during the next year.

    Provided that we keep our jobs.

  7. backtothefuture says:

    Thank you AL for commenting on “Passing the Baton: Who Will Take It?”. I think a little Van Halen on the Walkman would be enough to blow the minds of these presenters.

  8. I wondered the same thing about the programs projecting librarianship as a growth profession-around 1000 library employees in the new york city area will find out out this week if they received real or provisional pink slips in may-hopefully they can get new jobs at the places the presenters of these panels are speaking about (or is it just a figment of their warped brains?)

  9. houstonlibrarian says:

    I used to love going to ALA. It was a lot of fun! I saw all my Library School friends and generally got rowdy in a somewhat consequence free environment. Then I realized that it was just a vacation that I was spending way too much money on and I could keep up with people via social networking sites. I haven’t been to a conference in about 5 years and I can’t say that I missed it!

  10. Fred Stoss says:

    There are a lot of programs I, too, will be missing. I am going to a training workshop in Nashville, Tennessee, where relevant things will take place. This will be my second missed conference in about 20 years (Toronto & SARS-scare with father in a nursing home that would have banned me for six months). So far not a tear being shed about not being in D.C.

  11. Battledecks! Vuvuzelas!

    How can you miss this opportunity???
    to blow your own horn… yeah, sorry)

    Battledecks! Vuvuzelas!

  12. Fancy Nancy says:

    “Nobody’s really interested in your bright ideas or your enthusiasm, or your fresh perspective for that matter. That’s all that you really need to know so you don’t annoy the rest of us and harm your career by enthusing your bright perspectives all over us.”

    I nearly snorted coffee out my nose over that one this morning. We have a couple of people on staff who fit this description to a tee. I wish they’d take their “fresh perspective” elsewhere.

    I just read a review of Anthony Bourdain’s new book “Medium Raw” which stated that it’s a critique of changes in the restaurant industry in the last 10 years. I immediately thought, I wish someone would do that for the “library industry”, at least public libraries. Maybe you could write a book AL. I could write it but I wouldn’t be nearly so witty as you.

  13. Quick Study says:

    I for one of new things.

    If it isn’t in a book read to you by a librarian, it isn’t true.

    Electronics, the internets, cell phones, et al are all flash in the pans.

  14. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    The actually work of libraries is so much more interesting than ALA and other library-centered conferences. I’ll happily hold down the fort while my dimmest colleagues venture forth.

    Some go to fulfill the “professional development” BS on their annual performance appraisal. These folks I have no problem with. But that dim one above? She proceeded to bore us silly at a post-conference “meeting” where she told us all about what she’d learned. She still can’t find her way out of a paper sack …

  15. This will be my first time attending. Based on what I’ve heard, it is either going to be just as boring as working the circ desk or just as much fun as dealing with difficult patrons.

    Is there an open bar at least??? Who’s up for taking shots with me?

  16. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    I think everyone needs to go at least once, Bibliotecher. After 30+ years in the profession I will say that some of the least capable among us get the “most” out of ALA annual and mid-winter. IMHO, life’s too short.

  17. “Is there an open bar at least??? Who’s up for taking shots with me?”

    John Berry offered drinks all around.

  18. Talulah says:

    Ah yes, ALA Annual. I went last year (my first as a real librarian), and really wanted to hang myself. The only good panels were the author and RA panels, where you either got practical tips from decent librarians or met some interesting authors who had some insight into their genres. Not much else of substance. Sigh.

    PLA two years ago was pretty decent. CIL this year was so lacking in useful information it made me want to hang myself. Maybe if we met less often, there would be more of substance to discuss.

  19. I love these conferences/ trade shows. Tons of free junk. I love the pens, posters and vampire books. Not to mention the DK catalogs. The best trade show junk I got was many years ago at a materials handling conference. A salesman gave me a silicone gasket. He said it was the same size as the garden hose gasket and it would last forever. Well it is still working. I have been through two careers since then and it is still working. Unfortunately, I am not but my hose doesn’t leak.

  20. Real Librarian says:

    ALA programs that I will not attend–none.

    ALA programs that I will attend–none.

    I am a working librarian and don’t have the time or money to run off for a week of martini fueled programs of meeting and greeting.

    I leave that to the directors and administrators who can attend and think that they are doing something good for the library.

    It is nice, though, when the dead weight is gone for a week. The things that get done.

  21. CattyCataloger says:

    I so love snarkiness! I attended ALA, once as a Friend of the library before becoming a librarian. I only went around to the vendors. That was great. Now I don’t think I would be caught dead at conference.

  22. Agh. The myth of the librarian shortage. I wish ALA and the library schools would stop passing it around. We ARE starting to see more retirements but not at the rate predicted due to the economy. Plus any positions that are vacated are not being filled. So newbie librarians are competing with people who have experience.

  23. I just I love these conferences/ trade shows.

  24. Sigh. “By the end of the next decade, nearly 60% of current librarians will reach retirement age.”

    They told me this when I went for my degree 4 years ago, and I wondered why the class laughed at me when I repeated it…

  25. “By the end of the next decade, nearly 60% of current librarians will reach retirement age.”

    I may reach retirement age but no way will I be able to afford not to work.

  26. You missed an excellent session–Blasphemy–focusing on free speech and the right to offend–to ask questions. I recommend looking into it further.

  27. You said: “I can’t remember the last time I actually touched a book cart.”

    Of course you can’t. You have such a snooty job up at the “top” that you don’t even engage in real library activities anymore. Leave that to the servants and go have yourself some tea!

  28. Colons and Library Program Titles: What’s up with that?

  29. crankylibrarian says:

    Well Fancy Nancy – you sound like my old boss who did not appreciate my 20 years of public sector experience prior to getting my MLIS. I was an enthused new librarian working with a bunch of very immature, bigoted, small minded staff & “professionals.”

    I love that public libraries want the public to support them by giving them funding through taxes & then the staff goes in the back & makes fun of the patrons.

    I was quite aware when I started my library career that it’s a lowly paid public servant job. I was not expecting the open hostility towards the public or any new ideas that were brought to the table. You want to keep your dang tax base? Be nice to your patrons and do new things.

    Want to piss off your tax base and lose your job? Behave the way my system does. Thanks to the Fancy Nancys of the world I will probably never take another job in the public sector – a workplace that I have the aforementioned 20 years of experience.

  30. Real Librarian says:

    Amen cranky.

    Most librarians have no idea what public service is. Most of the time they are condescending and rude.

    “Well, if you had looked at our web site, you would know the answer.”

    Well, if you had looked at our web site and figured out anything, you would be the first.

Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE