ALA Midwinter & ALISE (San Antonio) in Review
The ALISE conference location was awful; a 25 minute taxi ride from downtown. It was in a very boring suburb. When I travel I love to walk around and explore. The area had no sidewalks. People just drove around quickly in cars. We could not escape the area without a car. Later a friend and I checked out some bookstores in town. It was almost as bad. They did not have entrances in the front (facing the street) -- only in the back; assuming people would never walk around, but only come in from the parking lot. It is a sad commentary on public space. No wonder we Americans (including me) are becoming so gordito.
Speaking of my belly, I did have some tasty food there. Besides Cholos I have not had much good Mexican in Hawaii, so I had enough Tex-Mex and Mexican food to fill me up for a few months. A publisher also treated me to a nice Italian dinner with some good wine. I also enjoyed several Shiner Boch beers.
The conferences were both good. The best part is always meeting colleagues and friends. In addition to panels I normally would be interested in I attended some sessions at ALISE because I represented UH. I was surprised by how interesting some of the discussions were, especially at the Dean's and Director's meeting. I have a lot to report back to the faculty, and some ideas for my classes. I gave a paper on a panel with Professors Cheryl Malone and Mary Niles Maack. It was a tribute to Don Davis, who just stepped down as editor of Libraries & Culture. It was quite well attended, and I got some encouraging comments. I did not expect to talk for 30 minutes about bibliometrics and library history, but enjoyed it.
ALA Midwinter is not a place for great papers usually. It is all about planning the programs at Annual. There were 3 interesting events though. My favorite was a reception to kick off the presidential campaign of Dr. Loriene Roy. (We enjoyed dinner together at ALISE one night). I am so excited by her candidacy! I want to organize a Hawaii Librarians for Loriene to spread the word. Anyone interested?! Her campaign meeting was in a crowded hotel banquet room. Anyone who was anyone was there. Loriene is so intelligent, so sincere that she will be the perfect president. Her son played classical guitar with a friend, and her students created an awesome website, blog, pamphlet, bumper sticker, and button. I picked up a bunch of pamphlets, so let me know if you want one. (Student votes count too, by the way!)
The other interesting sessions were organized by ALA President Michael Gorman. The first was his long-awaited Forum on Library Education. I took something like 25 pages of notes, even though some of the papers were quite disappointing. I will have my LIS 610 students read one or two of the papers -- unless you want to read all 3?! They are available as PDF files here . I was also excited about Gorman's other program at first, but keynote speaker Andrei Codrescu's paper was not as good as I had hoped. It might end up on C-SPAN/Book TV. Codrescu is one of my favorite poets and essayists, but instead of giving some interesting comments on library education (as requested), he spent a good deal of his time accusing ALA of inaction on the Cuban libraries issue. He didn't study the situation before accusing ALA, so I was a bit frustrated by the talk. I was so tired with jetlag, so I felt bad about closing my eyes so often.
I also spent some time networking in the Placement area. I tried to encourage the HR people of big public and academic libraries to consider coming to Hawaii to recruit our great students. Quite a few seemed excited about this idea; most mentioned that they did not know we even had a school.
I did not get to explore much of San Antonio this time. I saw the Alamo last time I was in town (for ALA and ALISE a few years ago). So this time I only explored the River Walk a bit. I bought a few small things, like a Mexican blanket ($6!), silver cufflinks for me (and 2 necklaces for Noriko) in El Mercado (Market Square). There was a nice shop called something like "Taxco de Oaxaca."
One night I also found a local Mexican-American bar 2 blocks from my second (deep discount) hotel. The place was called Los Dos Hermanas. I found that Dos XX is not so bad, especially when it is only $1.25 a bottle. I only had one, but enjoyed the relaxed local flavor of the place. Many of the 2 dozen people crammed inside were friends and family celebrating one woman's birthday. People were there of all ages. Some of the older people just watched. One older guy sang some amazing Mexican songs. He had a strong and emotional voice. The words were like the blues. I had never seen Spanish-language karaoke, but that helped me to understand the words. This alternated with Spanish-language techno dance music with flashing lights. No, I didn't dance, despite the funky beat and gracious DJ. Everyone was so friendly, and explained some of the lyrics to me. The bartender laughed when she saw my Hawaii driver's license. I would have gone back the next night if they were not closed on Sundays.
Now I am happy to be back home -- especially after 15 hours in fight! It was a good trip, but it is even better to be back in the teaching mode.