ALA Midwinter 2012 – Day 3 (and beyond)


After yesterday’s post, I said adieu to the Magnolia and made my way to the convention center. It was, I reasoned, as good a time as any to check out the exhibitors. I dragged my way through once and was unimpressed. There were lots of things, such as book scanners and RFID, that I just don’t have anything to do with at work. It was kind of boring. But then I saw the small food court and my heart leapt. How long had it been since I’d eaten anything? Oh yes, close to twenty-four hours prior. You know things are getting bad when a reheated Red Baron pizza looks fucking fantastic. And it was. So was the energy drink I chose to complement it. With precious calories once again in my system, I decided to give the exhibits another shot.

The second time was much better. I actually felt up to talking with folks. I met some indie publishers who were very happy to tell me about books I’d never heard of. I like books I’ve never heard of. And I got some free books. If you ask most librarians, this is probably the number one reason to go to an ALA conference. Publishers pass out free books like mad. There are tons of them. It was very common to see a tired looking librarian dragging several bags along the floor behind him/her. I, fortunately, was not one of those people. As a librarian, I try to use the library. I don’t really want to amass large numbers of books to tote around with me. That said, I did pack my carry-on full of these:

I also bought my daughter this Skippyjohn Jones stuffed toy:

And my wife the dorkiest librarian shirt I could find (courtesy of the Unshelved folks):

It was a good time. My bag was heavy, though, and my shoulder was screaming. I decided to take a break. I ran into a couple of my Emerging Leader mentors outside (and another gal from a different EL group) and chillaxed for a while. One of my mentors bummed my badge from me so that he could go through the exhibits to buy something for a friend. I was happy to do it, but forgot to tell him about our Library District’s reputation as being very progressive, forward-thinking, early adopters. He found out on his own, though.

I hung out with them for an hour or so before we broke apart to go our separate ways. There were discussion groups happening, but none that really interested me (and I had to head to the airport in an hour anyway). I paid a visit to the Texas Longhorn (don’t call them cows, whatever you do) statues instead:

And then I decided to go find the Grassy Knoll. I was successful. This is me standing on it:

I think they only water it with tears. Then I visited Freddy Krueger:

After that, I hailed a taxi and made it to the airport. Rush hour apparently doesn’t exist in Dallas, so I got there hella early. I had a really bad dinner at TGIFridays (how hard it is, really, to make a lemonade?) and read a while. What was I reading? I’m glad you asked. It was an as-yet-unpublished novella about lewd sexual acts penned by a friend of mine. It was so gross and awesome. When it becomes available to the masses (and it will), I will let you know, laptop.

I got on the plane, finished reading the manuscript and felt dirty inside. We experienced some turbulence and I saw a monster clinging to the wing. We landed (harder than necessary, I think) and I got to see my beautiful family again. All was well. We went home; I ate half a burrito and read Corduroy to my daughter. I put her to bed. I missed doing that.

And then things got simultaneously stupid and annoying.

This afternoon, I received a call from American Airlines telling me that a stack of credit cards and identification with my name on it was found in the plane. I check my pockets and, sure enough, my shit is gone. They tell me where to pick it up, so we headed out for the airport, much to my daughter’s dismay. When I got to the desk, I was greeted by a very unpleasant pair of women. They gave me unnecessary attitude and explained that someone made a mistake. First that mistake was that no one had anything of mine. After I showed her the number that called me and the time it did, the mistake was that someone else had my stuff. That person, after a quick chat on the radio, was unwilling to bring it down for me. Since I didn’t have any ID to make it through security to retrieve it myself, I was at the whim of these assholes.

But I held my temper and smiled at them. One of the women disappeared never to be seen again. The other explained that she would just go up and get it, but she couldn’t leave her desk because several flights had just come in. Being the quick thinker I am, I offered to watch her desk for her. She accepted. So for ten minutes this morning, I was an unpaid and unacknowledged employee of American Airlines. I did a better job than her and was kind to the people who came to me for assistance.

When she finally returned with my shit, my money clip (the personalized on my wife bought for me) was conveniently missing. Someone stole my money clip, but left all of my credit cards behind. I suppose I should be thankful, but I’m overwhelmed by the assholishness of the entire thing. If you ever run into a person with  a money clip that has “Carizzle” emblazoned on the front, punch that person in the balls for me. So now, instead of my fashionable wallet alternative, I’ve got a goddamned rubber band. Or elastic, as the Canadians call it.

In sum, ALA Midwinter 2012 was super fun. I met so many cool people and had a blast. I’ll be looking forward to the annual conference in June.


ALA Midwinter 2012 – Day 2


One learns so many things throughout the course of a single day, doesn’t one? You need not answer that, as I’m speaking directly to my laptop and not to you. If you said something, I must confess that I did not hear you.

Where were we? Oh, yes: Canadians. See- no, wait. We’ll get to that in a bit. It’s best I start at the beginning.

I woke up at 6:30 AM Friday morning, which gave me precisely four hours of quality sleep. I partook of the complimentary coffee in my hotel room and headed out into the unforgiving Dallas morning. I was expecting it to be like Phoenix, where, even if it’s warm during the day in January, it’s still cold in the morning. But this was not the case. Everything was being very temperate. I hustled down to the Dallas Convention Center, picked up my registration swag…

…which I later turned into one of those glowing jellyfish that are ever-so-popular at aquariums…


…and made my way to the Emerging Leaders workshop. Luckily for me, the time got changed a lot. I hurried to make it at eight, but the whole thing had been pushed back to nine. All was well, though, as one of my group members apparently didn’t get the memo, either. We spent the hour chatting about various library things. It was quite pleasant. Over the course of the hour, the rest of the group showed up. I was, and am, very impressed by the group’s credentials. We have me (who is mostly just awesome), a rare book cataloger at MIT, a hipster Canadian Science Fluencies librarian, a former-Overdrive-current-Youth-Librarian, and a public library IT Guy. Our backgrounds are quite varied, which will almost certainly result in a better final project. What’s our project all about? I’ll tell you.

In a minute. First I want to talk about straws. This is the awesome straw tower we built as a structural engineering exercise:

Please take note of the flag at the top. That is all.

We spent the morning in a leadership training, learning the traits of leaders and how one might go about becoming one. We had several passionate and interesting guest speakers. Then we broke for lunch, where Dijon mustard was served with a ladle like soup. It was most confusing to me and resulted in a mostly-inedible sandwich, which, in true Texas fashion, was the size of my head. Which is large.

After that, we met with out group mentors and talked about our project. The directions given to us were intentionally vague, as we’re supposed to develop the project on our own, which includes the topic, it seems. After some talking, clarifying, reflecting, and more clarifying, we came to the conclusion that our group will be doing three things: developing a review criteria for video games in libraries, building a portfolio of reviews, and outlining some criteria for a possible ALA video game award. It all sounds very fun. I’m especially interested in developing the review criteria, as I think that would be quite useful on a very large scale.

After all that was sorted out, we had a couple more speakers talk to us about getting involved in ALA, and then we were free. I popped back to the hotel for a brief rest, then hit the streets again for an Emerging Leaders reception at the Omni Hotel. That was a lot of fun. I met up with my group members and met some other cool people, including another cataloger (Why the hell do people take to that line of work? I just don’t get it.) and a hipster Portlandian academic librarian. The Canadian showed up and brought his equally Canadian wife. I learned about Canada.

And I continued to learn about Canada for the rest of the night, much, I’m sure, to the annoyance of the Canadians. There are some parts of Scott Pilgrim that are true to life, like the subways and the snow, but others, like traveling through subspace, that are not. My favorite parts of Canada are not true. They have a queen. The males call bathrooms “washrooms,” while the females just call them “bathrooms.” Conversations of this flavor continued for the rest of the night, from a booth at the back of my regular Dallas hangout, The City Tavern, and to a house party somewhere in Dallas. Not really sure where, but it was in an area where you could get knifed if you weren’t surrounded by Canadians.

And that’s when the cops showed up. No one got arrested and the party did not get shut down. But imagine that cop’s face, please, when he came to the realization that he had come to shush a house full of librarians. It was epic in its irony.

I parted ways with the Canadians early this morning and made it back to my hotel. I collapsed on the bed and slept like the dead. More like a zombie, actually, as I found myself rising against my will to go forth and blog things. And then go to the conference. Which I need to get ready for now, as they’re on the verge of booting me from this hotel.

We’ll talk later.

ALA Midwinter 2012 – Day 1


Instead of sleeping (like I should be), I decided I’d give a quick recap of the day’s events.

I left Phoenix at 11:30 AM on American Airlines. The trip was mostly uneventful. There was some slight turbulence and some Dr. Pepper, but nothing really worth noting. I spent the duration of the flight listening to the first half of a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And, no, I’m not the most pretentious asshole on the planet: as it happens, I started my English grad program this week and reading the play was my first assignment. I was multitasking.

When I arrived in Dallas, I was greeted with hugs (via a sign) at the baggage claim. I collected my bag (which was technically a carry-on, but they ran out of carry-on storage and I had to check it (for free – woot!).

After that, I hitched a ride with a kindly cab driver who took me to the Magnolia Hotel (from which I am currently writing). The hotel itself is awesome. Although it’s got a historic hotel feel, the rooms are modern. It’s nice. I feel comfortable. And the view is awesome.

Since the conference doesn’t actually start until tomorrow, I can’t impart any really awesome library wisdom upon you. But I can tell you about the shit I did! Yay!

My first order of business was to check out one of the two vegetarian restaurants I’d scoped out on the Internet. My destination today was the Cosmic Cafe (actually, it was the other one, but I got my addresses mixed up). It was only 2.2 miles from my hotel, so I decided to walk and finish up the last of the Shakespeare.

Eventually I arrived (but only after giggling myself silly over the play- who knew it could be so entertaining?) While there, I had dal, nan, and a Garden of Emptiness salad. It was so impossibly delicious. If you’re ever in Dallas, boy howdy.

As I trekked home listening to the Drive By Truckers’ Gangstabilly (I’d started off listening to Bonnie “Prince” Billy, but decided my walk needed a little twang). It was the perfect Texas strolling music. I stopped off at my hotel again and chatted with the family (missing them like crazy). When we hung up, I hit the streets again in search of some honkytonk. I caught a bit of the Undead Joe Trio‘s set at the City Tavern. It was fun and exactly what I wanted to hear in a bar in Texas. The crowd wasn’t nearly what they deserved. And neither was my camera- the photo came out blurry as all hell.

Tomorrow, I will be in the Emerging Leaders workshop all day and then an after party at the same damned bar (I kind of liked the place, though, so it’s cool). I will hit the vegan place, too.

Good night and good luck.