As usual, a large portion of my ALA conference experience is involved with LITA (Library Information and Technology Association). I am in the last 6 months of a 3 year elected term as Director-at-Large and so spend the bulk of both Saturday and Monday afternoons in board meetings. Additionally, there is always programming – LITA Conference Kickoff (to orient people new to LITA about the benefits of membership), Joint Chairs Meeting on Saturday morning, Top Tech Trends on Sunday afternoon (more about that later), and LITA Town Hall Meeting on Monday morning. Although it fills in many time slots in the weekend, it still allows for a bit of choice in my itinerary.
The biggest “elephant in the room” the entire weekend surrounded the topic of the organizational effectiveness of ALA and the viability of smaller divisions. At Monday morning’s Council meeting (the Council itself is a complex organization IMHO), conference attendees were invited to come and join in on starting an 18 month process to examine ALA’s organizational effectiveness. We broke into small groups for discussion and I was fortunate to end up in a group that included Trevor Dawes (former ACRL president) and Courtney Young (former ALA president), along with some young emerging leaders. It was a lively discussion and everyone’s comments were gathered and passed on to the Council for inclusion. Similarly, LITA’s Town Hall meeting was structured to gather strategic path input about member perceptions on current LITA constraints, more meaningful volunteer experience, online alternatives to physical meetings and improved longitudinal member experience throughout careers.
Other programs that caught my attention (and put me in a seat in the room) were the opening session featuring Patrisse Cullors and Marley Dias, the Alexander Street Sunday breakfast speaker, Bob Herbert, who discussed his documentary Against All Odds: The Fight for a Black Middle Class and then thoughtfully responded to a wide ranging Q &n A that was largely political and most interesting, and the Top Tech Trends. The trends presented included drones, artificial intelligence, diversity & inclusion, personalization, user tracking, social entrepreneurship and the rise of platforms.
I usually wander around like a lost child in the exhibit hall, but this time Mary Beth took me under her wing and introduced me to the fun of picking up free books. We packed up a big box of them to ship home and I hope they arrive soon! We were too late for this year’s blind date with a book, but we will be ahead of the game for the next one. We attended a lovely evening reception hosted by ExLibris and you can guess what the main question from them to us might have been 🙂 I also found a bit of time to catch up with some old friends – Wanda (worked at her election table), Lauren Pressley (currently president-elect of ACRL), Chelcie Rowell (Boston College) and Erik Mitchell (still at Berkeley).
As Mary Beth mentioned, we got to deal with a bit of snow (I never have the right footwear) – you can see that the Blue Bear had a coat of snow as he peered into the Conference Center: