Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

26 June 2006

ALA Annual Conference/ Part II

I’m writing this en route home from ALA. I usually enjoy attending conferences, but I am happy to be heading home.

Saturday was relatively uneventful. I was so exhausted that I slept in. That was helped by the fact that – despite a reminder note – I forgot to pack my alarm clock. During the day I checked out Loyola’s library...

Loyola University Library

...and worked on some LHRT matters, and went to the exhibits and placement office. No, I am not looking for a job. I usually go, and try to encourage some of the major employers (library systems) to come to UH. I also pick up flyers about positions. Quite a few seemed interested in coming to Hawaii, even a few employers that had LIS programs on campus. We’ll have to see how this develops.

In the exhibits, I met a bookseller named Henry Hollander, who specializes in Judaica. We started talking about books and the situation of publishing and scholarship. Before I knew it I was invited to dinner because his brother, who lives in New Orleans, works with a Tulane University professor I know. It was good to see the professor, who used to work at the University of Nebraska. He was one of the few people I knew in New Orleans. I had worried about him, and kept Googling him for news. Within a week I found a great article that he wrote in the Forward on his experiences, and Jewish life in post-Katrina New Orleans. Tulane and Loyola seemed fine overall, although I understand that some students and faculty have not returned. Other schools were hit harder. I found that out when I wandered around the Marriott (in search for a payphone). Several of the hotel’s ballrooms were taken over by a college, which was damaged by Katrina. Students were doing their best to continue with their studies.

Sunday was my busy day. I am the incoming chair of the ALA Library History Round Table, so I had to be at the 8:00 Business meeting. Christine Pawley did an excellent job of running the meeting. We covered a number of key issues, including discussion of the next Library History Seminar. We have three sites competing to host it (details online at http://libraryhistoryseminar.blogspot.com/). After the Executive meeting, I chaired the LHRT Research Forum. We had three peer-reviewed papers, which were quite good. I hated to cut off two of the speakers, but was pleased that we ended on time. I’ll never forget one of my first LHRT meetings, which lasted one hour beyond the time. I joined many of the usual library history folks for lunch, before our first Edward Holley lecture. Dr. Jane Aiken and Dr. John Cole gave a nice talk on the development of the Encyclopedia of the History of the Library of Congress. This was especially interesting since I am gathering material for an encyclopedia on LIS education.

The 1st LHRT Ed Holley Lecture

I had a few minutes between the next session, and was able to talk with LHRT veterans and friends Christine Pawley, Ken Potts, and Mark Tucker at a café about the next year’s slate of officers, and plans for next year. I am getting excited about being chair of LHRT, and hope to be a good chair. I decided that my main initiatives will be to invigorate the website, work on LIS education, and try to do outreach with other library history societies abroad. It will be good to work on these with UCLA Professor Mary Niles Maack (Vice Chair) and the rest of the Board, as well as Denise Davis and Letitia Earvin At ALA HQ.

Soon I had to walk up Canal Street for the ALISE Cooperative Reunion. Dr. Harada was at ALA, but had to leave beforehand, so I felt that I should represent the University of Hawaii, even though I am not an alumnus. A few recent and older alumni came.

UH Manoa Students, Faculty, Library Director and Alumni

After an hour we all left to the NMRT Student Reception. I wanted to be there to celebrate our ALA Student Chapter’s winning “ALA Student Chapter of the Year.” It is a great honor. I am so proud of all of our students, but especially those who were active in ALA-SC. They are good. As an aside, the Runner-Up Chapter was Indiana University Bloomington. Not only is this the school were I got my master’s, but one of the two co-advisors is Thomas Nisonger, who was my student advisor back then.

I also was at the meeting with Christine Pawley to promote the LHRT. We were expecting to give a 2-minute presentation, like they usually have ALA units do, but instead they encouraged us to do a free for all. I felt a bit like a salesman or politician, but hawked the pamphlets that I made. It was interesting talking with the students and recent alumni. Many seem creative and engaged in different issues. A few seemed interested, which was good. I talked with a few students from Drexel who expressed dismay that it didn’t offer any such class – despite their interest.

Christine and I were one of the last ones left in the room (most people scampered away to the 3M/NMRT Social), so we escaped for food in the Vieux Carre. It was good to just walk around and talk. Christine is a true intellectual, so this was interesting, and of course, I love walking around the French Quarter, including at least one fine bookseller. We eventually agreed on a nice restaurant, and enjoyed a very tender broiled salmon and Pinot Grigio.

Monday was much less exciting. I mailed papers back to Hawaii, worked on LHRT materials (a new logo, ideas for the website, 2007 Annual Conference Program proposal), packed, and dealt with the usual joys of airport shuttle, airport food, airport security, changing planes, etc. It is hard to believe that I used to love plane travel when I was young. I am excited to be almost home. I missed First Lady Bush’s address to ALA. Apparently she spoke for about 20 minutes, and also introduced a new IMLS Initiative to fund school library media specialist students. She is probably the most famous librarian today. I just can’t understand why she married George W. Traffic was backed up considerably because of Mrs. Bush’s motorcade.

Before concluding, I should say that New Orleans still has its charms intact. The buildings are spectacular. (It is hard to believe that they almost spliced the quarter in half with an interstate highway a few decades ago).

Looking for Food

People were very kind. Everyone I talked with explained how grateful they were that 20,000 librarians were coming. Even the New York Times covered the conference on Saturday, pointing out how many other major conferences had cancelled their plans, and there is no major conference planned until the fall.


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