Monday, January 23, 2012

ALA Midwinter Reflections

I spent the past 5 days in Dallas, Texas attending ALA's 2012 Midwinter Conference. This trip was my first visit to Texas and I wasn't sure what to expect.

After arriving in town and checking into my hotel on Thursday afternoon, I walked around downtown to get a sense of how long it would take to walk to the convention center. Downtown Dallas is eerily quiet with pedestrians. I found out later that there are underground tunnels between some of the buildings.  I walked by the spot where JFK was shot.  The West End part of town has some Texas and cowboy gift shops which were amusing to explore.  Thursday night I had dinner with the fabulous Courtney Young and Michael Porter at the Dallas Fish Market.

Friday was split between a pre-conference on the Drupal platform and meeting the NMRT Emerging Leaders Project group. I've been curious about Drupal as I've seen the Library community embrace that platform as well as NPR's Argo, StateImpact and Digital Services have embraced the platform as well. While my Drupal skills are very limited right now, I'm excited to build out a sample site over the next couple of months.  At lunch, I met with the 2012 Emerging Leaders Project Group M who are going to be working on translating the Spectrum Scholarship Professional Fair to a broader ALA Professional Fair.  As an Emerging Leader alum, I'm very excited to be mentoring this group over the next six months.  Friday afternoon I walked around the exhibit hall with fellow librarian Danielle Johnson whom I've just recently connected with on Twitter.  We forged our way through the book publishers to find ARCs and totebags to bring home with us.  Afterwards we had a lovely dinner at The Owner's Box at the Omni hotel.

Saturday was full of NMRT activities starting with our conference orientation session.  We had a nice crowd of conference attendees who were experiencing their first conference.  Next up was the NMRT Board meeting. After a quick lunch and drop off of my laptop, I went to the NMRT Membership and Committee Interest meeting.  NMRT President, Linda Crook, NMRT Secretary Rebecca Miller, NMRT Member Services Director Coral Sheldon-Hess and I shared our experiences with NMRT and answered questions about ALA and volunteering for NMRT.  Next up was a shift greeting folks at the NMRT Resume Review Service.  The last NMRT event of the day was our social, which was very well attended by our roundtable and even some alumni. Saturday ended with dinner and drinks with fellow 2010 Emerging Leaders Leo Lo, Elizabeth Moreau and Kirby McCurtis.

Sunday's activities started mid-morning which was a welcomed change from the past couple of days.  NMRT and LLAMA partnered together to create a New Leaders Discussion Group. The three discussion starters were very inspiring and the discussions afterwards where very interesting.  Next I attended a session explaining what World Book Night is and how to get involved.  If you are interested in giving books to non-readers, check out their website. In the afternoon, I attended part of LLAMA's Leadership Development Seminar and did another greeter shift at the NMRT Resume Review Service.

Monday's conference sessions were both sponsored by ALCTS. First was the Heads of Cataloging Departments Interest Group meeting which focused on cataloging as a public service.  We heard 4 presentations on how different cataloging and metadata service departments are reinventing and repositioning themselves to provide cataloging as a public service. It was interesting to hear the concerns, struggles and successes of other libraries in regards to cataloging their resources.  The second session was author Steve Berry talking about preservation and his latest books.  Steve was a delight to listen to and had the crowd laughing.    In the afternoon, I walked up to Arts district and took the M-Line Trolley to uptown Dallas.

While I didn't get to attend many author talks or other programs, I do feel that this conference was successful and I learned more about NMRT and our members. Other noteworthy sessions that I wasn't able to attend personally include the Occupy Wall Street Librarians, the director of the Dallas Public Library, a sing-along with Lisa Loeb and a whole lot more which is captured on American Libraries website.

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