This past weekend, I attended the American Library Association’s annual conference (#ala10, as it’s known on twitter and the rest of the web) in Washington, DC. The conference, if you don’t know, is an enormous event with over 25,000 attendees and three full days of programs, plus several pre- and post-conference activities. It’s not only attended by librarians but also tons of authors, publishers, and companies.
My friend Brynn and I decided to go together this year, and shared a room at the Washington Hilton. We live about five hours apart and are ridiculously busy people so we used the conference as an important opportunity for us to catch up, hang out, and otherwise be friends. This was my first ALA conference, and Brynn’s third.
I wrote most of my recap at the airport in Baltimore but it’s so long that I’m going to it break down into parts. There was just so much to take in and report. So, to begin:
Thoughts on my thoughts
As a quick background, I started my MLS program at the University at Buffalo in January 2010. So I’m new. I’m also a part-time grad student with a more than full-time job outside of the LIS community. It’s been difficult for me to really engage in discussions about LIS issues because 1) I’m still learning what they are, and 2) I just don’t have the time.
I looked forward to #ala10 because it presented an opportunity for me to dive in and get a little bit of a crash course. I think my hopes were matched but I’m reminded that it will take time, it’s okay to go slow, and that I won’t be able to engage completely until I’m actually a working librarian. So in some ways I’m a bit of an outsider.
I have attended several professional and political conferences in the past, and I am absolutely overwhelmed by the organization and efficiency demonstrated at #ala10. From the shuttle buses to the man holding a pre-made sign directing people to a Council meeting to the fantastic, useful workshops, I am beyond impressed. I hope when I get more involved with ALA and LIS issues I will remember my initial impressions. I hope they remain my impressions!
That being said, Friday night…
I decided to fly in on Friday afternoon so that I could visit with my friend, Melissa, who lives in DC and is getting married there this October. It also allowed me to get to the hotel and conference first thing Saturday morning.
Melissa and I went to high school together, and have not had much time over the past (almost) ten years to spend with each other. Despite this, we immediately picked up where we left off and had a really wonderful day. I feel blessed to have her as a friend, and am so excited to return in October for her wedding.
Friday afternoon we had some drinks and a delicious cheese board at her fiance Adam’s wine bar Veritas. It was a super classy place with fantastic service and a wonderful atmosphere. Adam met up with us at Veritas, and after another glass of wine we continued to Bibiana for dinner. Now, before I go on, I need to state for the record that dining with a restaurateur is really amazing. While the waitstaff were already friendly and professional, they really kicked it up a notch when they learned they were in the company of a colleague. I won’t lie, I really enjoyed the experience. Related: I had the agnolotti and it’s up there with my best meals ever. Also, I can’t stop thinking about the espresso granita. [insert Cookie Monster noises] THANK YOU MELISSA & ADAM.
Saturday morning Melissa dropped me off at the hotel around 9:00AM, and I quickly found my way to the line of librarians boarding a shuttle bus. How could I tell? The crowd was almost entirely comprised of women wearing comfortable shoes.
Next up: #ala10 recap: part two, the setting