ALA in the Morning

I attended ALA Midwinter for the first time when I was still in library school. I wasn’t actively involved with ALA, and I spent most of that meeting wandering around trying to find a place to sit down and plug my laptop in, trying to find someone, anyone, to talk to, trying to feel like I belonged. It wasn’t an awesome conference experience. So far, my second ALA Midwinter experience is far, far better.

This time, I have a place in the library world. I’m a librarian, with a role, a purpose. I’m involved, and I understand what all these different meetings and acronyms and councils are about. And because I feel like I belong, I’m finding it much easier to speak up and meet people. The experience between my first meeting and my second are night and day.

A lot of people think they need to attend an ALA meeting to figure out what they want to do in the organization. I think it’s much smarter to figure out what you want to do in the organization, to just get involved in any small way you can, before you attend a meeting. ALA is vast, overwhelming; even this smaller incarnation in January is daunting. Having a niche before you arrive makes such a difference in navigating the labyrinth that is our organization.

This morning, I attended the OCLC Americas Regional Council meeting (I’d like to run for the regional council when I next have a chance). They didn’t present anything too new (what they’re doing with Worldcat and Worldcat local, how they’re FRBR-izing the catalog and cleaning up their metadata, where WMS is heading, etc), but it was nice to be there, and to find out a little more about what being involved will entail. I feel really enthusiastic about the work that OCLC is doing, even though a handful of my colleagues have their serious (and not unfounded) doubts. I think OCLC is one of the most forward-looking organizations in the library world, and I look forward to the chance to contribute more actively to that work.

The Pop Cultures and Libraries Discussion Group was all about Joss Whedon and Buffy, so of course, I had to check that out. It was fun. Like any discussion group, there were some awkward moments, and a few people who seemed hellbent on derailing the discussion group to be all about them. But, not surprisingly, I felt like that room was full of my librarian kindred spirits: Young people who are interested in pop culture, people who don’t necessarily fit the stereotype of the librarian, and people who are excited and engaged and want to transform the world of librarians and libraries.

The Presidents’ Panel, now that was another story…

2 thoughts on “ALA in the Morning

  1. shinylib

    Eek, hope I was not one of those pop culture derailing librarians. (; I really couldn’t get a mental grip on how irked I was by someone calling DiNozzo (NCIS) “the dumb one” — haha, oh librarians. We’re funneh.

    I also totally remember that feeling of wandering around aimlessly hoping someone, anyone, would talk to me. Now I walk around with my sunglasses on hoping for 5 minutes where no one talks to me, tee+hee. It’s great when you get that 2nd timer feeling, yes!

    I for one enjoyed your commentary about the president’s panel. Granted, I’m not the best judge on what is snark and what is well-timed critique. I’m inclined to categorize your tweets in the latter category and am enjoying your thoughts about WMS, although perhaps am more skeptical of OCLC. Best intentions and ideas often get bogged down in the bureaucracy of an organization with global staff, we’ll see what happens. Regardless, I agree that OCLC WMS is really shaking up the mental model of the role/prominence/importance of ILS…

    1. laura krier

      No, you certainly weren’t the person I was thinking of in the pop culture session. I think I was thinking about the comedienne/librarian who only wanted to talk about how she couldn’t get a job. That kind of whining drives me crazy. 🙂 I enjoyed your comments!

      My apologies for taking a million years to respond. It seems my wordpress install was hiding these comments for awhile. Thanks, wordpress.


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