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This ALA Annual conference was a different experience for me. I am now on two LITA committees, Top Technology Trends and the 2012 LITA National Forum Planning Committee (which I am chairing). This means that much more of my conference time was scheduled to perform the duties this entails.

As a chair of a LITA committee, I found (thanks to Lauren P.) that I should attend a joint committee/IG chair meeting first thing Saturday morning. Because LITA holds its National Forum Conference annually, I also needed to attend, in addition to my planning committee, the one for this year’s conference so I can get up to speed on what’s planned for this year.

View Looking Down on the Crescent City Brewhouse Bar
View of the Crescent City Brewhouse Bar from Above

Much of the work for Top Technology Trends takes place throughout the year because it is a programming event that takes place at both Midwinter and Annual. Last year, we decided it would be a good idea to plan a social gathering with the committee and the “trendsters” so that they would be acquainted prior to coming to the podium the next day. My assignment was to find a restaurant to hold the “get acquainted” dinner and if you know me, you know I have “hostess anxiety.” This meant that I spend a long time finding a place that would be a good one: with New Orleans atmosphere but not priced in the stratosphere. I settled on the Crescent City Brewhouse which was reasonably priced, centrally located on the edge of the French Quarter and had a live jazz band! It turned out to be a nice networking evening. The actual event took place Sunday afternoon. We had a great venue this time with the session taking place in one of the main auditoriums. This time there were 5 trendsters, Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC; Clifford Lynch, CNI; Nina McHale, Univ of Colorado, Denver; Monique Sendze, Douglas Country (CO) Libraries; and Jennifer Wright, Free Library of Philadelphia. You might want to note that, for the first time, the female trendsters outnumbered the males. As Erik mentioned in his post, the trends included social reading, the death of the mouse, proximity marketing, “mashing down” print, and computational photography.

Top Technology Trends Panel

Top Technology Trends Panel at ALA Annual, New Orleans

This was the first time at ALA that I also had a presentation. I participated in the ULS/CLS Program with 9 other presenters. The format was a Pecha Kucha, a presentational framework where we had to do 20 slides for 15 (preprogrammed) seconds each for a total of a 5 minute talk. My topic was “From Department Director to Race Director.”

I have to admit that this was the most challenging presentation I have ever made. I am more of an ad-lib speaker. I like to make a broad outline and go from there, depending on what stories come to me in the moment and how the audience reacts. The Pecha Kucha format is very regimented. I had to know exactly what I wanted to say in the 15 seconds that each image projected. They even had a cow bell that they said they would ring if we went over. It was very intimidating, even for a seasoned pubic speaker. However, I survived and had positive feedback on my content.

I always enjoy attending the Alexander Street Press breakfast. This year, the speaker was Stanley Nelson, the award winning documentary filmmaker. HIs most recent film is Freedom Riders. After several minutes of audio technical snafus, he showed a ten-minute clip about the second wave of freedom riders. It was extremely moving. I was particularly drawn to the fact that he produced the documentary The Murder of Emmett Till. In both of my “south trip” experiences, the story of Emmett Till played a central part in starting to understand the complex issues of the black experience in the south.

Those of you who know me also know my belief in the importance of embracing the local culture of the places we go for conferences. This was not hard to do in a town like New Orleans. I’ve been there four times now, three of them post-Katrina. During our Monday French Quarter Neighborhood Bike Tour we learned that only 70% of the population from pre-Katrina is now there post-Katrina. The bike tour is an example of another belief I have about conferences. It is the perfect opportunity to make a different type of connection with your colleagues. Interacting with colleagues in a different setting is conducive to getting to know each other in a unique context. With 12 people attending ALA New Orleans from ZSR, there were plenty of chances to connect with each other in ways that resulted in higher understandings and appreciations of each other!

French Quarter Neighborhood Bike Tour

Excellent French Quarter Bicycle Tour