Category Archives: conference

Why I don’t go to ALA

A good friend of mine lives in San Francisco and excitedly told me that ALA Annual is going to be there. This may only make sense if you follow Game of Thrones, but I was proud of how I explained the situation.

The conversation paraphrased with her permission:

Me: I don’t go to that one. I go to MLA and that’s going to run me $1500 this year.

Friend: Why don’t you go to ALA?

Me: Well, it’s just really big and there’s not a lot of — okay, you know how you mostly┬ácare about the Team Dragonstone characters like Stannis and Davos?

Friend: Yeah

Me: So if ALA was about Game of Thrones, it would┬ámostly be Dany and Tyrion and SanSan people and maybe if I’m really lucky, I might get to one Team Dragonstone thing [Hey, just like trying to shop the HBO Store!]. But if MLA was about Game of Thrones, it would be mostly about Team Dragonstone. Oh, there might be a few things on people I don’t have a lot of interest in like oh, Selyse or Renly, but it would primarily be about Team Dragonstone.

Friend: Got it (instant comprehension)

MLA Conference Lessons that I should have remembered

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. Forget about fashion. Remember blisters.
  2. Immediately after meeting receiving a business card from someone, write down the context on the back of the card.
  3. Do not overpack. See #4
  4. Be selective about vendor giveaways. My hotel room always looks like the side of the Oregon Trail when I check out.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes. I had to opt out of several activities simply because I could barely hobble back to my hotel.
  6. Figure out your schedule loosely before you get to the conference and then minutely once you get the paper copy of the program. MLA’s online conference planner is atrocious.
  7. Take notes. You think you’ll remember key points, but you won’t.
  8. Be not ashamed of knitting in public. Ok, this one I did not forget. I happily knitted during presentations and plenaries.. I got some dirty looks from librarians who promptly sat down with their iphones and ipads and played angry birds or whatever.
  9. Just slog through it. Just go to stuff. Fight the wall. I am glad I came to Seattle, but I gave up too easily mainly because I forgot to do #1, #5, and #10.
  10. Wear comfortable shoes. Blisters having no blisters is never a good thing.

Pertussis, Information, and Assumption in Seattle

The Medical Library Association Annual Meeting starts this weekend in Seattle, WA. This will be my eighth conference. It took me awhile to get the groove of learning how to get the most out of it. I think I’m there finally. The prep for going to a meeting like this is always significant. You have things like committee reports, presentation stuff, flight/hotel arrangements and information. There are also personal tasks. What to wear. How to pack. What bags to take. Errands to run. On top of that the regular work doesn’t stop.

But I’m starting to feel like I’ve got a handle on things…finally. I was on the phone with my co-presenter discussing our game plan for our paper and she mentions that there’s a pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic in Washington State. Have I had a vaccination?

Turns out, no, no I have not. I call my doctor’s office and am told, they don’t have the vaccine in and may not have it till next week. That does me no good. Well, I do some more reading on the subject and learn that it takes a few days to a week for the vaccine to start working. I actually read some posts on MEDLIB-L and calm down a bit. I’m not in a high risk group for complications. Also, there’s really nothing I can do at this point. My room, flight, and registration are non-refundable.

But here’s my problem. Apparently this has been a problem in Washington State for several weeks now. I read a post on MEDLIB suggesting that MLA or the NPC/LAC should have informed registrants. This does not seem unreasonable to me.

Someone responded that this discussion started happening on Twitter in the last week or so. Well, I’m sorry but I don’t live on Twitter. I have gone there occasionally in the past month, usually to ask a question. A librarian on Twitter suggested that we should have been reading the news. This story only went national in the last day. I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row for my papers, my committee work, along with doing my job.

If there’s a public health crisis, officials don’t make it incumbent on the public to come to them for news and direction. They send out the information through as many channels as possible because they know that not everyone uses the same media format. MLA should really have contacted registrants; they have our e-mail. They couldn’t send out a notice?

The energy of a good conference

Last week I attended UNYOC. I hadn’t been to anything substantial (discounting 1 day meetings) since last October. The speakers were good. Got in some good discussions with the vendors, the venue was pleasant, and the company was great.

I was particularly intrigued by the presentation on the Horizon Project.


I came back this weekend from a wonderful library conference. Normally I attend MLA, but I had an opportunity to offer a continuing education course at EAHIL, in Krakow, Poland. So I ended up doing a 4-hour course on teaching methodologies.

There’s presenting or teaching in front of students and then there’s presenting in front of your peers. I can handle students. Let’s just say I was incredibly nervous for this class. To my relief it went rather well. My audience was marvelous and I came away with some great ideas myself.

Because I taught the class, I had the chance to attend the rest of the conference. It’s a lot smaller than MLA–about 360 attendees–but it was a really well-organized and informative conference. I particularly liked getting the European perspective on library issues. Interesting to learn that Evidence-based Practice hasn’t gotten a firm foothold in many European countries (excluding the UK).

More later…