Annoyed Librarian
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Adieu, Las Vegas

Before I got to Las Vegas I thought I would hate it as a conference city. After a few days spent there, I now know that my premonition was correct. This has to be one of the worst places ever to hold an ALA Conference.

The only redeeming feature it has over Orlando is that there are some great restaurants in Vegas. Getting to them is always inconvenient, but then again so is getting anywhere in town.

And that’s part of the problem. If I were there to drink and gamble, or even to get massages and lie by pools, this would be perfect. Except that I was there on business.

So of course if I’m there on business and need to get from meetings to programs to meetings, I want some of them to be in hotels/casinos that are designed to keep me from getting to a specific location. That’s because I, like the group that chose this place, have a double digit IQ.

Brilliant planning,  ALA committee that chose Vegas as a destination. Seriously, what bunch of idiots chose Vegas?

I was late for a few things, but on the other hand, I got to wander through various casinos, which itself was rather depressing.

Outside of cities like San Francisco where the homeless population can overwhelm you trying to get around, Vegas has to be one of the most depressing cities I’ve visited, with the casinos being the locus of that depression.

In the movies, casinos are always glamorous places. After all, if Danny Ocean likes them, how bad can they be?

Oh yeah, I forget, Danny Ocean is a disreputable thief, so he fit right in.

Instead of glamorous shininess, all I saw were the poor saps handing their money over to casinos in the guise of gambling. And since I wasn’t privy to watching the “whales” gamble, I had to settle for the burly unkempt men and the sad old women.

“What’s in the bag?” said one sad old woman to another.

“Nickels,” she said, “because it’s so hard to find penny slots.”

In that short exchange rests all the pathos of Vegas.

The sad specimens camped in front of the one-buttoned bandits were the worst sight. It’s a “game” that chimpanzees could play and still feel a little foolish.

They were like zombies staring into the glass and pressing those little buttons. When they run out of nickels and rise up, remember to go for the head.

And then there’s the smoke. In addition to having to wander though the pathos of Vegas casinos to get anywhere, I also had to wade through the cigarette smoke.

Seriously, get with the 21st century, Vegas. But I suppose a city designed to fleece suckers probably doesn’t care much about public health.

Oh, and the godawful prices. Fortunately, the huge expense accounts of librarians are designed for places like Vegas, which are designed to suck money from huge expense accounts.

Even the shows look sad. People pretending to be the Rat Pack. People pretending to be Elvis. People pretending to be Michael Jackson. Other people pretending that they haven’t ended up where musical careers go to die or to live on in farce.

Finally, there’s the heat. Perhaps the committee of fools who picked Vegas isn’t aware, but on average librarians aren’t the healthiest of professionals. Making them trudge through 110 degree heat to get to a program is just cruel.

ALA was there about 40 years ago, I heard someone saying, and supposedly it was so awful that the ALA Council passed a resolution never to return.

If that’s true, it shows just how effective ALA Council resolutions are, because there it was. And if not true, then maybe it’s something the Council should take up this time. That’s a resolution I’d definitely be behind.

When whatever flock of fools chose this place for an ALA conference dies and goes to librarian hell, for punishment they will be staked to the concrete outside the Las Vegas Convention Center to bake in the 110 degree heat while the rest of us travel over them in air conditioned monorails pointing and laughing.



  1. I felt this way about Las Vegas until I went to Atlantic City. Remember that bar can always be set lower than you think it can!

  2. Rebecca H. Davis says:

    Just how does an organization so publicly and loudly devoted to gender equality hold a convention in a place where women have to walk by racks full of ads for prostitution just to get to the conference center? Or encounter pimps handing out cards for their “girls” in front of all the casinos? Or choose a venue a half block away from a declining hotel now best known for ts long-running topless revue, “Crazy Girls?” And just next to the other failing hotel that hosted the Tailhook Scandal? Or in short choose the most sexist, demeaning-to-women city in America for an annual meeting? Who thought that was a good idea? Let’s see names.

  3. Obvious says:

    You went to the desert in summertime and are surprised by the heat?

    Good thing you didn’t say triple digit IQ.

    • cat fancy says:

      ALA has been held in New Orleans many, many times. If you want to talk about unbearable weather in which to hold a convention — the heat & HUMIDITY in New Orleans add up to large amounts of misery. Hard to believe that Las Vegas can be any worse!

  4. Mitchell Davis says:

    It is like a 3-D real life Bravo commercial run where the movie never comes back on….sapped several months out of my life I am sure. You cannot use sidewalks! Who builds a city like Las Vegas?

  5. Robert Burgin says:

    I still don’t understand why the annual conference is held at the end of June anyway. Budget decisions are being made, and librarians often need to stay close to home for these. Besides which, it’s almost always too hot, especially in places like Vegas and Orlando. Why not have the annual meeting in September and the mid-year meeting in April.

  6. SouthwestLibrarian says:

    As a first-time ALA conference attendee, I won’t be in a hurry to attend future ALA conferences, if this one is representative of ALA conferences in general. A heads-up about the distance one should anticipate traveling to attend programs, perhaps one would not have ponied up the dollars for back-to-back programs, with the first held at the Paris Champagne Ballroom, and the second at the Las Vegas Hotel. Oy!

    • ALA annual conferences are not the ones of choice for me. I like the smaller ones — ACRL for me; public librarians like their conference. ALA annual is huge and exhausting. I usually learn little from them, except at the poster sessions. I was a bit surprised at the location of this one (I didn’t go)– I went to Vegas about a year ago for the first time. Enjoyed it for what it is, but can’t see attending a conference there.

  7. Frumious Bandersnatch says:

    But, but you’re forgetting about all the people (possibly including some of the planners) whose main reason for attending a conference in the first place is to skip all the sessions, drink, gamble, get massages and/or lie by pools. Surely it isn’t too much to ask for a few thousand people to suffer, so a few dozen can sneak in a paid vacation?

    • You mean a few thousand lie by the pool while a few dozen attend classes don’t you?

    • Frumious Bandersnatch says:

      I know…I was trying to be optimistic, rather than realistic. It’s a failing, but fortunately I don’t succumb to it often.

  8. Rick Ashton says:


    There is some folklore about the American Library Association’s long avoidance of Las Vegas. It has to do with someone in Las Vegas’s racially discriminatory treatment of Clara Stanton Jones, ALA’s first African American president, when Jones went there in connection with conference arrangements-making. I don’t know if this is a factual account or if it led to formal ALA Council action, but it is consistent with the kind of position ALA has taken from time to time. In the 1970s, ALA Council at least discussed a boycott of all states whose legislatures had not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. Illinois, unfortunately, was one of those states, and that made the location of ALA headquarters a little awkward.

  9. Walter Lessun says:

    New Orleans should be the permanent conference venue.

    • Matt Rogers says:

      It is too hot and muggy there in the summer. Please avoid all the “hot spots”!!

  10. Annoyed? says:

    This was my first time attending the ALA conference, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you can’t find a way to have a good time in Las Vegas, well…

  11. Well, I’m surprised at the negative comments. I was also a first time attendee and while it wouldn’t be my first choice of destination it wasn’t that bad. It was kinda interesting. I loved the program and that’s what it’s about isn’t it? The food in the conference centre was reasonably priced and tasty. I think you’re being a bit harsh!!

  12. You all keep looking at the same places: Orlando, NOLA, SF, LV. Why not consider Portland, OR or Seattle, WA. At least it won’t be too hot. And in Portland you have a ton of places to eat.

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