Recapping ALA Annual in Anaheim

It’s been about 48 hours since I got back from Anaheim, California, where the American Library Association Annual Conference was held. The past two posts sort of delved into what was going on, but as soon as the conference actually started, I realized that keeping up to date on the blog would be near-impossible. I think the fundamental thing I got out of being at ALA for the first time was LOSE YOURSELF. And by that I mean: “get lost and you will thus be found.” In short, I took every opportunity I had the physical strength to take. I attended official sessions and updates. I visited speaker presentations. I explored interest groups. I networked, networked and networked some more. I visited exhibition booths in the convention halls. I volunteered at one for LA Theatre Works. I attended giveaways, plays and performances. I even dealt with a huge fire alarm issue due to a crazy popcorn machine. Oh, and I partied. It’s strange saying that, but I learned early on via the ALA Think Tank (whose motto is “Party Hard, Make It Happen” and features a plethora of heavily active “movers and shakers”) that the formal activities are equally balanced by the informal.

Here is a list (as far as I can recall) of all the formal and informal-but-scheduled events I attended, following my romp in Disney:
* The Opening Session featuring ALA President Molly Raphael
* ALA Play (featuring crazy fun games like We Didn’t Playtest This At All)
* ALA Dance Party 3 (where I learned how to Two-Step from a librarian from Missouri, danced to Garth Brooks, and met a ton of young librarians)
* David Weinberger’s Presentation where he discussed libraries as a platform
* Fair Use, Intellectual Property, and New Media featuring three experts in the area including Duke’s Kevin Smith
* The Book Mobile Parade (see pictures below!)
* The UW iSchool Reception at the House of Blues
* A Tweet-up for Newbie and Vet Librarians at “Bar Louie” and another Librarian Dance Party at Fire and Ice, where I got to show off some severe dance skills to old school West Coast Hip Hop
* The LC Transition Forum where Zepheira’s Eric Miller discussed the New Bibliographic Framework Initiative (NBFI)
* The Cultural Programming session discussing possible outreach initiatives for library communities
* The Zine Pavilion where my friend Violet Fox volunteered most of her free time
* A Hookah Bar in the middle of nowhere Anaheim called the Rose Cafe, where we smoked hookah, had hummus with beef, and were given a tour of the kitchen from the wonderfully polite and friendly Iraqi owner
* Dan Rather’s presentation where he spoke on the liberation of journalism
* A huge day-trip to the Central Juvenile Hall (a detention center for youth) in LA where I met a bunch of fabulous prison, jail, and detention center librarians
* Battledecks, where ALA attendees competed a la giving impromptu presentations using randomized, absurd PowerPoint decks
* Muzeo, the private Anaheim museum which, in a featured exhibit, featured original Gutenberg leafs, and two fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls
* The phenomenally strange Crystal Cathedral, where I stared at a rotating glass Jesus sculpture for several minutes

There was a bit of down time at the end of the trip, where the closest friends I met during the trip spent time with me exploring, being exhausted, and simply relieving ourselves from the constant ebb and flow of the conference. I ended up going to the LAX airport with Dylan and we got a couple beers (LAX is horrible, by the way, compared to great airports like Sea-tac, PDX, and Minneapolis). The past two nights I’ve spent a total of two hours emailing contacts I made at the conference, some of which I’ll hopefully stay regularly connected with, some of which I might only see at conferences. I started a spreadsheet of contacts in case I ever need advice, inspiration, or potential job leads. What next? Back to professionalism, back to studies, back to my other projects, like my gaming blog and gaming research through the UW. The ALA Midwinter will be in Seattle this year, which means I get to see more administrative goings-on. School will continue to be in full swing.

I think the number one thing I’ve learned through my participation in ALA Annual is that it’s as valuable if not more valuable than the iSchool, than my volunteering, than my job. It’s not the most inexpensive investment (annual fees, time to read through all the information, the conference costs including hotels and eating and drinking), but it pays for itself. Coming full circle, as ALA Think Tank encouraged, this is more about a lifestyle than a professionalism, than a job, than a career.

To round out this post, here are various pictures from the event, from Anaheim, from everything that went on. While I wish I had taken more pictures, my phone’s battery life was of utmost concern.

Edit! I just stumbled upon some notes and remembered I also attended an Unconference and a session on digital librarianship. Wowzers. I can’t even keep it all together!

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