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David Lee King

ALA Midwinter 2007: It can be confusing!



ALA Midwinter was a big conference – one that had many meetings in many different hotels. To the right is a video of me trying (almost unsuccessfully) to get to a program at the conference. I was confused – the hotel the program was held at, as far as I could tell, didn’t have any signs. As in, any signs providing the name of the hotel! Once I got to the program, it was great.

And that sort of summed up my first ALA Midwinter experience. Looking back, it was a good conference. But for us first timers, it can also be highly confusing! What was confusing?

  • The conference session listing didn’t really say much, and there were lots of them. Someone told me to get the full session info, I’d need to go to each division website to read about the sessions. Yikes!
  • Obviously hotel signage could have been better (not ALA’s fault)
  • I didn’t realize these weren’t sessions but were rather “discussions.”
  • Some “discussions” really were discussions, while some were really normal sessions with speakers and then a longer q & a time at the end.
  • What if you want to get involved with ALA or a division chapter more (as in jjoining a committee). How do you do that?
  • Are all meetings open to everyone? Council sessions? I don’t know, cause there was no place to read about it.

So – just my experience… I’m sure it’ll improve with experience!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://walt.lishost.org/ walt

    David,

    As you’ve probably figured out by now, it’s called the ALA Midwinter Meeting for a reason: It’s a set of business meetings, not a conference as such. With very few exceptions, programs (what I think you’re calling sessions) aren’t allowed at Midwinter; they’re reserved for the Annual Conference.

    Open meeting policies should be on ALA’s website (and should be in the conference schedule). Briefly, all meetings are open with two exceptions: Award committees and committees discussing personnel issues. Those (and “unaffiliated” meetings that are invitational) are starred in the schedule. Otherwise, all meetings are open to all registered members. Council is certainly open, and I’ve always said that everyone should attend at least one Council meeting–the one and only I’ve ever attended cured me of any desire to run for Council.

    As for involvement: For a committee, volunteer to the division or ALA vice president (there’s usually some sort of form). For a discussion group or, in LITA, interest group, show up and express interest in formal involvement.

    Discussions that are “really normal sessions” are fudging the Midwinter rules, and that happens a fair amount. They’re not described fully simply because formal programs don’t happen at Midwinter.

    Much of it really does boil down to the idea that librarians seeking programs shouldn’t need to go to two conferences a year. That does make Midwinter a much smaller conference (I know 12,000 doesn’t seem small, but it’s about half the attendance of somne Annuals.)

  • http://walt.lishost.org walt

    David,

    As you’ve probably figured out by now, it’s called the ALA Midwinter Meeting for a reason: It’s a set of business meetings, not a conference as such. With very few exceptions, programs (what I think you’re calling sessions) aren’t allowed at Midwinter; they’re reserved for the Annual Conference.

    Open meeting policies should be on ALA’s website (and should be in the conference schedule). Briefly, all meetings are open with two exceptions: Award committees and committees discussing personnel issues. Those (and “unaffiliated” meetings that are invitational) are starred in the schedule. Otherwise, all meetings are open to all registered members. Council is certainly open, and I’ve always said that everyone should attend at least one Council meeting–the one and only I’ve ever attended cured me of any desire to run for Council.

    As for involvement: For a committee, volunteer to the division or ALA vice president (there’s usually some sort of form). For a discussion group or, in LITA, interest group, show up and express interest in formal involvement.

    Discussions that are “really normal sessions” are fudging the Midwinter rules, and that happens a fair amount. They’re not described fully simply because formal programs don’t happen at Midwinter.

    Much of it really does boil down to the idea that librarians seeking programs shouldn’t need to go to two conferences a year. That does make Midwinter a much smaller conference (I know 12,000 doesn’t seem small, but it’s about half the attendance of somne Annuals.)

  • http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/wp-rss2.php Meredith

    I’ll tell you, I’ve been to annual twice (even bigger – EEEK!) and expect to be in a near constant state of confusion when I attend again this summer. The only thing I’ve learned is that it’s normal to be that confused. My first time, I apparently had an old version (read: a week-old) of the schedule and ended up at several meetings, discussions, and award ceremonies that weren’t at all what I was planning on going to (the award ceremony one was the most embarrassing). That experience convinced me to create the ALA Wiki for ’05. The second time I did a little better, but it was really overwhelming and I felt the whole time that there was some secret language or some way of decoding all this to make it make sense that I just didn’t know. I guess that’s why people get involved in their little area of one of the sections and just focus on that — because being a generalist really doesn’t work.

    I’m giving three talks at Annual this year and I’ll be truly impressed if I can actually make it to all three of my own talks!

    But, yes, it gets better, bit by bit.

  • http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/wp-rss2.php Meredith

    I’ll tell you, I’ve been to annual twice (even bigger – EEEK!) and expect to be in a near constant state of confusion when I attend again this summer. The only thing I’ve learned is that it’s normal to be that confused. My first time, I apparently had an old version (read: a week-old) of the schedule and ended up at several meetings, discussions, and award ceremonies that weren’t at all what I was planning on going to (the award ceremony one was the most embarrassing). That experience convinced me to create the ALA Wiki for ’05. The second time I did a little better, but it was really overwhelming and I felt the whole time that there was some secret language or some way of decoding all this to make it make sense that I just didn’t know. I guess that’s why people get involved in their little area of one of the sections and just focus on that — because being a generalist really doesn’t work.

    I’m giving three talks at Annual this year and I’ll be truly impressed if I can actually make it to all three of my own talks!

    But, yes, it gets better, bit by bit.

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com/ K.G. Schneider

    David, your insights are terrific. I’m going to share them with the ALA Membership Participation Task Force (which I’m on).

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com K.G. Schneider

    David, your insights are terrific. I’m going to share them with the ALA Membership Participation Task Force (which I’m on).

  • davidleeking

    Cool, Karen! That’s why I’m putting them out there :-)

  • davidleeking

    Cool, Karen! That’s why I’m putting them out there :-)

  • Nancy Dowd

    David,
    What great quality video- what kind of camera did you use? Any hints on how you posted the video?

  • Nancy Dowd

    David,
    What great quality video- what kind of camera did you use? Any hints on how you posted the video?

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