Midwinter musings

Submitted by Walt on Thu, 01/20/2005 - 19:39

This isn't my informal notes on sessions during the ALA Midwinter Meeting. (As soon as I finish this, I start writing those for internal use; if there's enough that I think are worth spreading further, I'll include them in a forthcoming C&I.)

Instead, it's a substitute for the Bibs & Blather about the weather and overall situation I did after Philadelphia--since I don't plan to do such a whine this time around.

First, the weather. Cold by my wimpy California-native standards: Certainly. How could it not be? Too cold, as it was the last day I was in Philly: No. The only time it got down to the teens was the day I was leaving, and at 4 a.m. I was too numb to feel it on the short walk to a cab.

That's partly because you could get to and from most meeting-heavy hotels and the conference center without going outside. I was at the Sheraton (good room, great bed, the less said about the restaurant the better, lounge prices as ludicrously high as I expected--somehow, paying the price of a bottle for a glass still bothers me just a little); you couldn't get closer to Hynes without camping out in Prudential Center, but the Westin and Marriott were also accessible in shirt sleeves if you were so inclined.

It's also partly because it just didn't get quite as cold and windy on most days. I found myself forgetting a cap and sometimes not bothering to put on gloves and scarf. That included some 4-6 block walks--and I didn't do any 3-mile hikes. As with Juneau in March (during AkLA in 2003), this was tolerable. (The jetways when changing planes in Chicago may have been the coldest part.)

I hear it was one of the better-attended Midwinters in recent years (13,000?), and that sounds about right. Our booth staff say it was active; it felt busy but not overwhelmingly crowded; most sessions I attended had more people than I would have expected.

It was also one of the most interesting Midwinters I've been to in years--and I went to more non-LITA discussions than usual. (I'm not suggesting a connection; I don't think there is one.) I believe that any attempt to curtail focused discussions further than the current "no programs except ALA-wide sponsored events" would be a serious mistake; there was a lot of vitality at this session in addition to 2500+ committee meetings, and I believe that's good for the field.

Finally, for now, a couple of words about socializing and introverts like me. I've learned not to reception-hop (it's hard on the system); this time I went to one reception where I knew I'd be at home on Saturday (ALA Publishing), one on Sunday (YBP Library Services), and that was it--but I also spent way more time than I'd planned with the PLA Bloggers. The reason that 1 hour turned into 3 was simple: They're really interesting people, most of whom I'd never met before. It was worth the effort to come out of my shell; keeping up with, being informed by, and enjoying the company of yet another younger generation was a big part of what made Midwinter great. [No, Steven C., I'm not going to use the o-word. Y'all made me feel welcome and younger.]