“Everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” – Mark Twain
The weather was an excellent metaphor for the librarian profession’s current status quo: the presence of smothering heat (budget cuts), the pros and cons of doing anything outside temperature controlled areas (movement and change versus consolidation and static), and everyone desperately wishing for a change in the climate (draw your own conclusions on that one). The only topic to be discussed more than the weather at the conference was that of change, at least at some of the sessions I attended and the circles I was socializing in. It was mentioned in the acceptance speech during the PLA awards in that “[the library profession] is a quickly changing field.” It was at this utterance that I stifled an eyeroll so strong that I was assured to be rendered blind if I allowed it to happen. But I digress.
[I had a blurb written about the topic of change, but upon review of some of the things I wrote, I decided to bump it to another post.]
For my talk for PLA/REFORMA “Social Media and Advocacy” on Saturday, I ended up completely scrapping my carefully refined presentation. Earlier in the week, the New Jersey State Budget compromise had been reached the Monday before the conference. In the days afterwards, the implications of this compromise were coming to light: some state library budget lines had been completely restored, a few partially, and others not at all. On Friday, in sitting on the train heading down to DC, I had a thought: “Do I want the people who are attending this talk to leave with a list of sites and such? Or do I want them to leave with a fire in their belly for advocacy?” I really couldn’t ignore the opportunity to reach out to even a small group of librarians at the conference and try to get them motivated to take action. [This will be the basis of another blog post. –A]
Personally, I was pleased with how the talk went; I said what I wanted to say to the people who attended. I don’t know what sort of impact it had, but it’s a start. Someone who attended the talk has a nice outline of what I said for those who want the highlights. (Thanks Amanda!)
Short version: social media is a tool, but advocacy is a mindset. The tools will not matter if the profession doesn’t have the mindset to treat attempts to remove resources as acts of war on our communities. And yes, I am serious. [Don’t worry, I’ll be writing about that real soon.]
One of the highlights of the conference for me was the RUSA President’s Program “For the Love of Reference”. I had never heard Nancy Pearl speak before, but it’s always great to hear my friend Pete Bromberg present. I had an idea of what he was going to cover since he had asked me if he could use my Library Day in a Life Round 4 entry. (Here’s a previous thought on reference posted back in April.) Pete really brought back the affirmation of why I love reference as well; it was the right little reminder about how I feel about it. The recognition was appreciated, though I certainly didn’t feel like I was the only one in the room to think what I wrote in that note.
The other highlight was Battledecks. I don’t really have words for this, only links.
The ALA Wiki entry (the actual theme was “Turn and Face the Change: Evolving and Revolving in Libraryland”.)
For those curious about the slides that Janie couldn’t use for Battledecks, I have uploaded and shared them in Google. (They are in Powerpoint form. The contestants dodged a lot of bullets. And potentially NSFW for mild language.)
The overwhelming positive that I have taken from the conference is that I have found excellent online company in my peers. Those whom I have grown to know on Twitter, Facebook, and my blog are the people who are the thoughtful passionate individuals that I have been looking for. I would be remiss to ignore the new acquaintances I made as well; these are people I look forward to hearing more of their ideas and meditations on our shared profession. To those I shared talks, drinks, and meals with, I am thankful that those moments came together in that manner. (Now I just wish I had taken more pictures with people.)
I am delighted that, while my body is weary, my mind is energized with ideas, projects, and future blog posts. On the car trip back from DC, I was making notes on my iPad to send to myself so as to not leave anything on the table. Once we are settled into the new apartment, I have a list of things that will claw for my attention. I hope to be able to satisfy them.
This conference has given me the energy boost right at the time I needed it.
If you are playing along with the LSW Badge game, be sure to pick up those badges that you have qualified for (or make some new ones and add them to the Flickr group) and add them to your site.
(The ALA 2010, ALA Dance Party, Tote Bag, and Battledecks badge, respectively)
As to a question posed to me, whether I would join ALA or not, I’m still on the fence. The issue revolves around whether to not join or, if I was to join, form a coalition of like minded librarians, run together as a slate for ALA Council, and change the organization.