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Well, here I am at the Big Kahuna of library conferences, the ALA annual conference in Chicago. I arrived yesterday (Saturday) at the McCormick Place Convention Center at 1:25 PM hoping to attend a meeting at 1:30. Walking into the lobby outside the Exhibit hall (aka The Stacks) I tried to orient myself and find the proper room. Feeling a bit overwhelmed (it’s a HUGE place) I headed down a hall, in what I hoped was the correct direction, and I accidently came upon the place I needed to be. Beginning with that little victory, I’m getting around fine now. It’s great to be a part of such a huge conference. There are librarians all over this city and they’ve all been friendly and helpful.

The first meeting I attended was a presentation called “Leading from any Position: Opportunities to Contribute to Your Library’s Success,” by Maureen Sullivan, an Organization Development Consultant. It’s part of a series called “Who’s Da Boss: Leadership for Library Support Staff.” Ms. Sullivan suggested that organizations need to create opportunities for everyone to lead in some capacity. People need to be willing to lead and to also learn to be effective followers. She presented the concept of Resonant Leadership which includes elements of a relationship built on trust. Leaders implementing this style will bring out positive emotions, and thereby positive results, in those they are leading. According to the speaker, Emotional Intelligence is needed to be a Resonant Leader. The necessary elements of Emotional Intelligence are self awareness (recognizing your emotions and their effect on others), self-management (your ability to stay in control of your own emotions and responsibilities), social awareness (empathy and perception of mitigating factors), and social skills (ability to interact meaningfully). This was an interactive session where we were given the opportunity to share with a fellow participant how we felt we measured up and where we could improve.

As Lynn mentioned, this morning I had the opportunity to attend the SirsiDynix – ALA-APA breakfast at which Lynn was honored. Since this event was at 7:30 AM local time, I was grateful for the hour of time we gained here in Chicago. I was also grateful for the gorgeous weather and the quiet Sunday morning. It has been several years since I was here and it came back to me this morning how much I LOVE this city.

I didn’t get much opportunity to see the exhibits yesterday so I did more exploring today. I talked to the Marcive folks about gov docs, the OCLC people about their alternative to RAPID and their ILS plans, the Atlas rep about Ares (yes Heather, I remembered!) and Highsmith about ILL work room furniture (hoping to win the $500 gift card).

Later I attended a session about technology called, “Web 2.0: Meeting the Standards for 21st Century Learners.” This was a rapid-fire presentation about many Web 2.0 tools and how to translate what librarians are already teaching into new technologies. The speakers, Anita Beaman and Amy Oberts, spoke about using students’ fondness for online tools to open windows of learning. An interactive dimension was added by having a wiki for the presentation in which workshop attendees were invited to comment on the tools and ideas as they were being presented. Some concepts included:

Screen savers with pictures of book covers

Glogster for visual reading lists

Wordle to depict story highlights

Pageflakes to get video and audio widgets

Foto Flexer to edit images taken with cell phones

Phlogging (apparently a term for blogging using your cell phone)

Bitstrips to create comic strips to tell traditional stories

While the pace was a bit overwhelming the session certainly generated ideas that may prove to be useful.

The last session I attended for the day was about the history of libraries. “New Perspectives on American Public Library History” was a program which I attended out of curiosity and a love of history. Christine Pawley, from the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, spoke about how the move, 100 years ago, of the ALA from New York to Chicago led to the development of branch libraries. Tom Glynn related how public libraries changed from private funding to public funding and explored how that affected the public’s perception of the government’s role in providing libraries. Wayne Wiegand from Florida State Univ. spoke about rural Midwestern libraries and their place in upholding the ideals of democracy. Wiegand suggested that their real role was to be an “active agent in the construction of social harmony.” Each library seemed to have become unique to its particular constituency. The last speaker was Jim Carmichael from UNC-Greensboro who told about growing up in Marrietta, GA and how the library there had been crucial to social change in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. He also pointed out that titles that appear in WorldCat many not be reflective of ALL of the people in a community but rather mirrors the libarians’ perception of the society they represent. He pointed to the lack of LGBT materials as an example.

I also had the opportunity to witness my first Book Truck Drill Team competition. The themes included Elvis, the Secret Service, Vikings and the cast of Grease. It was a lot of fun and I admire those with the chutzpah to do that.

This evening my sister (a reference librarian from Michigan who met up with me here) and I signed up for the opportunity to hear several authors of humorous books read passages from their books. Authors included Anita Renfro (William Tell Overture Mom), Jen Lancaster, and Paula Poundstone. Because the shuttle buses stopped running before this session ended, we topped off the evening with a cab ride along with three other librarians. (four in the back seat!) We had a very nice cab driver named Chubby who reported that he serves coffee and donuts in his cab in the morning.