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

LITA BIGWIG Social Software Showcase: It was wonderful.

My ALA posts are coming in late because I was so happy to be home with Mr. Rochester and my slobbery puppy, that I ignored all else for a few days. It was heaven.

The big buzz at Annual was a little program that could, The Social Software Showcase. My goal for this new program was to get people in a room together and let them talk about technology. The leaders of LITA BIGWIG, Jason Griffey, Karen Coombs, and myself, got the discussion going by having 11 people we respect present on technology topics. To date, the wiki has been viewed over 7,000 times. I count that as a success for the online content.

Empty Head Table at Showcase

But what of my original goal? The picture in this post is of the head table in our room at the Mayflower hotel. This was not a program of talking heads. This was a program about people, where everyone was able to converse and ask questions. It was exhilarating. It was fun. People joked and learned. It was, without a doubt, the best thing I did at ALA this year.

Thank you to everyone that gave us shout outs, support, and high fives. Thanks to Cindi’s belly, our shirt also made the latest edition of ALA Direct! It was nice to know that something new and different can be successful in the lumbering whale that is ALA. In case you are wondering, and I know that you must be, we are already making plans for next year. The LITA PPC was very kind to us at our meeting last week and is giving us flexibility with our “program” to get the Showcase listed in the official ALA schedule. We have some fun ideas on what to do better to increase the participation for those not at ALA during the actual discussion time. Meebo chat room on the wall of the room, anyone? Stay tuned. You have not seen the last of BIGWIG or the Showcase.

–Jane, pleased to be able to be official next year but had way to much fun under the radar