Today, I was almost not allowed into the stacks of the Univ of Illinois research library book collection. This was the first time. I've always had some connection that allowed me to get in (and sometimes even to check out books as a Madison or Indiana grad student, and in between as an Illinois taxpayer), even though I never studied at UIUC. This time I was only allowed in because I smiled, and explained that I am an ALA member. The supervisor started smiling too, explaining how proud she was that ALA would still meet in New Orleans this summer. I did not get a pass, but was allowed in. I was happy. Anyone who has done research in the stacks of the UIUC graduate library would remember the experience. The ceiling is low (fine for me), poorly lit, and a bit foul, but oh, it is worth it. The library furniture alone tells you that you are walking in history. The collection though... ah... It is a historian's dream. It must be the finest research collection on the history of libraries in the US (if not one of the best in the world). It is worth thinking about that for a while, but I also noticed new distractions -- piles of books on the floor, and many books marked with Xs on the spine. I assume these are being readied for exile to remote storage. I should be pleased for the collection's long-term preservation, but I realize that this will be the last time I can walk the stacks and appreciate this amazing collection, which encompasses the long history of librarianship.
I thought about that... and then went to a nice dinner at the Baking Company. The very thin pizza was good, but the salad with raspberry vinaigrette, walnuts, and different types of lettuce... was a real treat.
The conference starts on Thursday. I am excited to see so many colleagues. There will be over 100 library historians there. I imagine security will be tight :)