ALA Midwinter is in my hometown this year, and seeing as it’s right after the holidays, I arranged to stay in San Diego an extra week after New Years to attend. And because this conference will be relatively inexpensive, with no airfare or hotels necessary, I’m also going to be going to ALA Annual this year (because who can pass up a trip to New Orleans…in July…). I feel a little uncertain about throwing my whole conference attendance weight in with ALA this coming year, seeing as there are so many other conferences I’m tempted by every year (ACRL, Code4Lib, Internet Librarian, SXSWi…). But I figure it’ll be a good way for me to figure out if ALA is the organization I want to put most of my professional contributions toward. I’m already volunteering on a committee and a round table, so I feel I’ve already taken some initial steps toward ALA-indoctrination. At the very least, ALA Midwinter is sure to have lots of California-based librarians in attendance, so I might be able to accomplish some networking that might eventually bring me back home permanently.
Considering that financial straits most librarians are finding themselves in these days, both institutionally and personally (no, we’re not paid all that well), I’m curious that there are so freaking many conferences aimed toward librarians every year. We talk an awful lot about how no one has the resources to attend conferences, and yet, there are always so many of them. I suppose the huge diversity of the work we do leads to the need for many different conferences focusing on particular aspects of librarianship. And perhaps having so many ensures that at least one of them will be local and therefore easier and cheaper to attend. I’m lucky enough that the Pacific Northwest seems to be a hotbed of regional conferences and I was able to attend a few last year, and meet a lot of my (relatively) local colleagues.
I suppose I should count myself very lucky that professional development is such a priority in my field, and especially at my institution. And I’m looking forward to seeing librarians in San Diego in January (and going to New Orleans for the first time, even if it will be hot as blazes). But I do wish that getting involved with ALA didn’t often have to mean dedicating your whole conference budget for a year to ALA. We have way too many interesting options to want to do that every year.