ALA Annual 2007 Reflections or Where is my next meeting?

Window of Books

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

This Annual can be summarized by two things for me: not enough sleep and meetings. Not enough sleep is my own fault for enjoying the company I keep overmuch, but I am not too sad about that. I was lucky enough to see some people a care for dearly and meet some great new people as well. I was even a part of the great showercap caper of 2007. The pictures can hardly contain the hilarity. I feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle the problems before me with new determination thanks to all the wonderful librarians in my life.

The meetings were sadly, beyond my control, and I went to far, far too many. It makes me question the bloated cow that is ALA. One may even call our conference operations a sacred cow. We, and I do mean we, need to figure out how to have a leaner and meaner conference with less programs. My liaison to the LITA Program Planning Committee is also the liaison to a group that plans 6 different programs at Annual. Six! Why?! That is why we are so bloated. Why do we not simply let each group do one program. One. Our programs may then have better quality. There is no reason, IMHO, that any committee should be planning more then one program for any given conference.

If we had less programming with better quality, we may be able to lure back the librarians that have abandoned us to rot in our own largess. But we would not stop there. Oh no. You also get theGinzu Knife 2000 along with an ALA that does its committee work virtually for your easy annual payment of whatever they just charged to my credit card. I am raising my voice to join the din of people calling for ALA to make its committee conduct their work virtually, in a tool that makes sense.

I have sat in on the LITA Board committee meetings for two conferences now and, as far as I can tell, the majority of the time they are cooped in that room they are discussing things. Discussing Things. You know, I may be young and crazy but there are so many tools that they could use to do that before conference. Maybe email. Maybe a bulletin board. Maybe a Basecamp site. Maybe group chat if you are feeling frisky. I am not picking on LITA. They are only conducting business the same way everyone else does. Maybe it is time we did not.

Even if the LITA Board did all its reporting and discussing virtually and then met in person only to vote (which frankly, can also be done virtually), the meetings would only be, at most, an hour. I know there are other groups that report to LITA Board during this time, but why could they not also report virtually?

BIGWIG, an IG of LITA, conducts all of our business online, over listservs, IM, Google Docs, and email. At our meeting on Sunday of Annual, we spent an hour talking about how we thought the showcase went, we explained what we do to the new people, we elected new officers, and took new volunteers. That is it, one hour. We did not discuss ad nauseum if we should or should not do X or Y. I typed an action item into the agenda to start discussions later, on our listserv. (yes, I know, I must type up my notes and post them, I know, I know) I have also heard rumors the the New Members Roundtable is pushing its members to do more work virtually. Good for you MNRT!

This post is very full, so I think I will leave Emerging Leaders to a post of its own.

–Jane, exists virtually