Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Anaheim, Here I Come!

It’s that time of year again, time to head off into the wild blue yonder to the ALA Annual Conference. I already have breakfasts, coffee breaks, lunches, cocktails, dinners, and after hours drinks lined up, guaranteeing that my conference experience will be as enjoyable as possible, even if it’s in Anaheim.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Anaheim. If I were a suburbanite with young children who wanted to spend a lot of money to be really bored at an amusement park and wander around a city with no there there, Anaheim would be the place for me!

For all of those poor lonely souls whose social calendars aren’t as full as mine, I’ve perused the ALA Conference program to find you some exciting workshops and presentations to go to.

For example, you can go to “Matauranga Maori in New Zealand Libraries: A presentation and workshop on Maori knowledge in New Zealand libraries,” which might be the first time a subtitle has almost the exact same wording as the main title. Knowing about Maori knowledge in New Zealand libraries doesn’t seem like it would be very useful for American librarians. On the other hand, unlike many of the presentations, it might actually be interesting and tell you something you didn’t already know.

To gather more information about the libraries in countries you’re unlikely to ever work in, you could visit “How Taiwan Maximizing Information Services through Public Libraries, Digitalization, LIS Education, Information Literacy, Library Assc. & Globalizing.” Either someone made a typing mistake, or they’re maximizing information services by removing verbs, which come to think of it would save us all a lot of time.

If you want to see what LIS professors think of themselves, there’s “Leaders Wanted / LIS Doctoral Program Options Fair: Cultivating Diversity in LIS Education.” How many LIS professors do any leading of the profession of librarianship as opposed to the profession of information studies? The people leading libraries are the librarians, though they could probably be more diverse.

If you want to flirt with danger – and what librarian doesn’t – there’s “Dangerous Ideas: What if We Took Volunteers Seriously?” I’m this close to soiling my knickers in fear. Really, I am.

It’s probably not a good idea to make your title into a question, because it’s usually easy to answer the question just by looking at the title, which negates the whole reason for going to the program. For example, “The Current Status of Academic Librarians: The Best of Times or the Worst of Times?” Hmm, my guess is, neither, but boy do those academic librarians like to fret about their status.

We’ve been hearing about the looming retirements of the older generation of librarians for about 40 years, or so it seems. Usually, this is used as a reason to sucker people into library school with the false promise of easy employability.

However, I was actually pleased to see one presentation that accepted the retirement premise (which is still kind of doubtful) and going in a different direction. “The Librarian Has Left the Building: Keeping the Knowledge Alive through Succession Planning.” If they replace the retiring librarians, that might work, but that’s a big if.

Some groups give informative and boring titles for their presentations. If you want to find a reason to get out of bed first thing Sunday morning, you could go to mass, or to “Current Research on and Use of FRBR in Libraries.” Come to think about it, I’ll sleep in. That title just isn’t excited enough about the subject to get me excited.

Who wins the excitement trophy this year? It’s PLA! The PLA people are very excited about their programming. You can tell by all the exclamation marks.

And who wouldn’t be excited about “Every Child Ready to Read: Implementation Tips!” Wow, implementation tips! Woo hoo! You’ll get “information on using the updated ECRR toolkit. Topics will include: parent tip sheets, childcare provider classes, staff training, serving children with special needs, tracking children’s skills, and more!” Wait, we’ll get “more”! I’m there, baby!

What else is exciting? “Create and Innovate! : How to champion creativity and innovation in your organization.” This one is exciting because it combines three things that can almost never exist together: creativity, innovation, and organization. Good luck with that!!

Not to be outdone in the excitement category, there’s “The Great Non-Fiction Readalike: If You Like This, You’ll LOVE That!” Wow! An exclamation point AND a capitalized word! You bet I’ll LOVE it!! On second thought, I don’t need it. In my library we have these things called subject headings that let you find similar nonfiction.

Then there’s “Publish Or Bust!: An ePublishing Odyssey.” Hmm, I’m thinking, I’m thinking. Maybe I’ll publish, because I don’t bust very well.

I shouldn’t be so hard on the PLA folk, though. Even the ACRL can get excited about publishing. “Write for it! Jump Start your Research Agenda and Join the Conversation.” Well, okay! It asks, “Are you interested in publishing? Are you interested in research beyond the “how we did it good” article?” Sure, who isn’t !? After a thousand or so “how we did it good” articles, I grow weary.

The problem with this one is the problem common to this program. It doesn’t tell you who’s speaking. All we’re told is that it’s a “librarian with a successful publishing record.” For all you know, that could be me, and I’m advertising my own program. I want names!

Well, I don’t want names, because I’ll be too busy socializing to attend any presentations or workshops, but you might want names. Enjoy that conference!



  1. I dread the spread of LIS PhD programs in universities. I guarantee that if they really start to take hold, we’ll see the exact same thing that happened to nursing when schools started offering the DNP, and the degree inflation already present in the LIS field will have one more level to spread to.

    • Frog the Librarian says:

      My school has had the Ph.D. program since the early 1970s though I can only think of few graduates that became prominent leaders or scholars in our field.

  2. Ah, my favorite time of year. AL ridicules ALA annual while sipping martinis at the conference hotel bar. Great work if you can get it.

  3. Oh, that I could attend. The snark level is always at its best when librarians gather. I need detailed reports from the New Zealand program, especially concerning hobbit holes in the area.

  4. Thanks to AL for highlighting the diversity of session topics at ALA2012. After 15 years of the same old – same old, I’m almost sorry to be missing ALA2012. hahahahahaha – No, just kidding.

  5. Michelle Sellars says:

    I’d actually be intersted in the New Zealand one, assuming it’s about native/minority information in majority libraries. In historical societies, archives, etc here in the south have a lot of info on wealthy white people, less so on Native Americans and minorities. I’d be interested to learn how other libraries have bridged the gap.

  6. Sheryl Kron Rhodes says:

    Evan—You can find hobbit holes in Matamata. I have a picture of my then-eight-year-old daughter looking out of Bag End’s foyer window. And AL, the reason that the Maori presentation has what looks to be the same title & subtitle is because many NZ institutions have made a point of using Maori as a gesture of respect toward the original inhabitants of Aotearoa (the Land of the Long White Cloud). I keep looking wistfully at the academic librarian postings that occasionally pop up…

  7. Wants to know says:

    Dear AL,
    Love your columns. Yes, Anaheim is boring. I live next door in Fullerton (boring too). But I could show you some less frequented and somewhat interesting places in Fullerton that tourists never see.

  8. Yet again this year, I have saved my pennies for something more valuable than the ALA conference. Did I say pennies? Sheesh. How does a librarian not making the Forbe’s quoted mid career median pay afford going to these things?

  9. Auverkirk's fan says:

    As usual, I worked out all year and dressed nicely and met some great women at ALA. Now it’s true that we haven’t heard AL whine about the dearth of attractive straight men in the library profession but she’s jaw-jacked about it in the past enough that it’s probably legitimate to continue to comment on the issue. Interestingly, most decent-looking straight male librarians tend to find our attention drawn less by psuedonymously-expressed wit alone than by openly-expressed wit when delivered from a nicely-dressed female personage with that all-too-rare (in the library profession) of a 20-22 BMI. (Yes, it’s rare but ALA Annual is so big there are always a few cuties around.) Since our dear AL is still her secret self, we know not whether she qualifies for the latter group. And so that population of librarians for whom she cried so plaintively gravitates most likely elsewhere. (If she *was* gettin’ any, wouldn’t she likely gloat? One can never be certain, though, so insert disclaimer here.)

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