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.