My ALA started on Friday afternoon with an ACRL Leadership meeting. As the incoming Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect of the Law and Political Science Section (LPSS) of ACRL I was invited to attend. It turned out to be a two-hour fundraising pitch to get money for an additional 75 scholarships for the 2015 ACRL Biennial Conference in Portland, Oregon. I have a lot of opinions about how they are going about doing this but I’ll save you my commentary. The benefit of the session to me was a chance to get to know my incoming Chair as well as the Chair/Vice-Chair of the Anthropology and Sociology Section (ANSS) much better. ACRL has made it very difficult for proposals to be accepted for Annual conferences unless you collaborate with other sections, so LPSS and ANSS are busy planning ideas for a co-sponsored program for ALA 2015 in San Francisco.

My Saturday was mostly taken up with committee and membership meetings for LPSS. Our invited speaker was Pat Mulroy formerly of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. She talked about water politics in the lower Colorado River Basin and was FASCINATING. A few interesting facts from her talk:

  • In Southern Nevada water is measured in ‘acre feet’ – that is an acre of land, one foot deep in water.
  • Las Vegas recycles 93% of the water it uses
  • The Strip, often vilified as an unnecessary drain on water, only uses 3% of the water – most of the rest comes from residential use, primarily people watering lawns.
  • Golf courses in Las Vegas are all watered with ‘grey water’
  • When the drought started (it’s now in its 14th year) they began paying people to take the grass out of their yards and replace it with desert landscape – within 6 years they had reduced water consumption by over 30%

On Sunday I presented on a panel put on by the Discovery Services Committee of the Reference Services Section (RSS) of ALA. Four speakers all presented on one aspect of Discovery Services (we have Summon) that we found interesting and then we divided up and spent time in smaller discussion groups. One presenter talked about a side by side comparison they did of discovery services, another spoke about a survey or librarians attitudes toward discovery and the third presented on a communication strategy implemented to keep library staff up to speed on their discover service. I presented on the new way I framed teaching Google and Summon for my LIB210 class and how I think deeper dives into the data Summon provides us can help us in instruction and in site design. I think I found a collaborator or two who may want to research and write about this. I was gratified that many people told me that they did not even know that you could see a list of all the searches done in Summon – so at least they learned that if nothing else. Also learned that Summon is the only discovery service that provides that kind of data (good on you, Proquest).

As usual I spent a good deal of time with vendors during this trip – meeting one-on-one with folks from SAGE/CQ Press (I’m on an advisory board for them) and with folks from ProQuest. Stopped by a few other booths to get some questions answered and discovered the existence (thanks Molly) of The Harry Potter Alliance. Bought a Granger-Lovegood 2016 t-shirt and am already scheming about how we can encourage WFU students to start a chapter here!!

ALA in Vegas was one we all will remember for a while but I suspect none of us want to repeat any time soon. I walked over 30 miles in my four days there (thank you, FitBit for keeping tabs on that) and probably drank 10 gallons of water. The city wears you out physically and mentally while at the same time having an energy that exists nowhere else I have ever been. There is no such thing as subtlety or understatement in Vegas and after about three days I start to crave a place with less sensory overload, so coming home was very welcome.