Quick non-program Orlando notes

I'm back in the moderately-warm, low-humidity Silicon Valley. I might have comments about programs and encounters at ALA Annual later (here or elsewhere), or I might not. Meanwhile, a quick personal note about the site.

No disrespect to south Floridians, but blecch. At least as an ALA site. I was expecting the heat (which I like) and the humidity (which, combined with the heat, left me feeling 80 years old after ten minutes outside). Those I could deal with.

I wasn't expecting the sheer distances, pedestrian hostility, and general inconvenience of getting from one place to another--and the lack of anything like a "downtown core" in the whole conference area.

I think the conference arrangements people did the best they could with shuttles, and Gale must have spent a fortune on the busses, what with nine different routes. But at most conferences, you don't need shuttles for most programs if you're willing to walk 15-20 minutes. Here--well, unless the session was in the CC or at the Peabody, Rosen Centre, or Rosen Plaza (and you could remember which Rosen was which), you were in trouble.

I wound up doing a geosliced schedule: Except for mandatory events, I dropped those that weren't at one of those four sites. The same thing happened with Miami/Miami Beach. I don't think Orlando was quite as inconvenient as Miami. But it sure wasn't convenient--and, until last weekend, I'd never thought about the extent to which most ALA sites (Midwinter and Annual alike) really are fairly pedestrian-friendly.

That being said, it was a worthwhile conference. I missed the big social events (Scholarship Bash, both the F911 showing and the new Disney "everything's wonderful in America" movie showing that nobody mentions, but that was well-publicized and actually free, etc.) but managed all of the exhibits, some receptions, the program I was part of, and two or three other programmatic sessions. And, as usual, ran into a few hundred friends and acquaintances I only see twice a year.

One other thing: I don't get targeted ALA exhibitor mailings since I'm not a likely buyer (not being in a library, and all that). But I got more exhibitor mailings this year than I can remember in the past decade or more--seemed like half our mail on some days was postcards and flyers for ALA exhibitors. Unfortunately, half a dozen of them arrived way too late to do any good--including two that arrived yesterday!


What was it? I don't see anything on ALA's special events list

It wasn't on the special events list because it was added on the spot. It was in Cognotes. I believe an exhibitor arranged the special screening. The movie is "America's Heart and Soul," and Disney has been inviting some conservative groups to special previews...

Cool, thanks. Here's a plot summary from comingsoon.net:

Plot Summary: America is a vast country -- three thousand miles from end to end. But it's not the land that makes America so special -- it's the people. Filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg packed up his camera and hit the road, with a goal of capturing both the unparalleled beauty of the land and the incomparable spirit of the people. Through his movie, "America's Heart and Soul," you'll have the chance to meet ordinary Americans with extraordinary stories. Louis's gift is his ability to connect with people, honestly capturing their values, dreams, and passion in an awe-inspiring journey that reveals the stories - unusual, captivating, inspiring and emotional - that make us into something more than a collection of individuals. "America's Heart and Soul" is a celebration of a nation told through the voices of its people.

Did you see marching ducks? I still find that the most bizarre thing I've ever heard of. Sadly, I missed them. Or maybe not so sadly, since in my head, it looked very charming and sweet, like the duck family in Make Way for Ducklings, with perhaps, some rhythmic duck quacking. I probably would have been disappointed.

Am vigorously nodding my head along with your evaluation of the Orlando Annual Experience. I didn't leave the OCC/Rosen/Peabody triangle, save for our first night when we wandered out for tasty Indian food. Heard a great deal of griping about distance, weather, and lack of affordable, non-chain food or affordable housing. On Cognotes, our ALA liaison is with Conference Services. I've learned to not complain too much, because there are only so many cities big enough to accommodate ALA, and there has to be geographic rotation to accomodate all the members. I can't imagine what all goes into conference planning. Still, it doesn't mean I dug Orlando in any way, shape or form. At Council Forum, a collective groan went up when we heard that we'll be in Orlando again in 2010.

I just wish ALA would convene here in New York at the Javits Center. AFter we're through with the Republicans, of course, a couple thousand librarians would be a walk in the park/piece of cake.

I've stayed at the original Peabody, in Memphis, where the ducks have the penthouse, and saw the whole parade there. Music, red carpet, duck handler, but no rhythmic quacking.

2010? Hmm. I'll be 64, and might just be able to justify skipping it on the basis of being too #$*! old for that nonsense. Or not: ALA's been known to move conferences. (E.g., we were in NY a few years ago when we were originally scheduled for Orlando.)

ALA was at Javits a few years ago ("a few" = I've forgotten, but it was before 1998), the year we were originally supposed to meet in Orlando.

It's not on the current 10-year calendar. I suspect there are good reasons. I won't speculate on what those reasons are... I remember the conference as being OK.

"A couple thousand librarians" is about 20,000 shy of the mark! (Or it probably would be for a NY conference.)

Speaking as someone currently in the conference-making business (but like the Elvis in Joan Rivers, I'm trying to get out!), I can say that what the sage ones tell me is that NYC is a damnably expensive place to do a conference.

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