I just got back from the ALA’s annual conference in San Francisco. In the 14 years that I’ve been an academic librarian I’ve attended seven of these conferences. I suspect that this one will be my last one for a long time.
My beefs with the annual conference:
- Too damn big. Estimated 25,000 librarians in attendance. Presentations are spread across a dozen hotels. The shuttle buses suck. And your ass gets wore down trying to keep pace with a tight schedule.
- Even worse if you are on a committee and have events that you have to assist with, present at, etc.
- ALA committees: half the time you end up on a committee that’s full of lazy fuckers. So half the aggravation is trying to motivate the living dead without getting stuck doing all the work.
- Air travel has gotten progressively worse. Every flight I was on was over sold. People were crabby. There seems to be less room on the planes because the airlines care mostly about profit. And I’m talking to you United Airlines! Friendly skies my ass!
- The ALA sessions are a crap shoot. This time I rolled snake eyes and what I did attended where mediocre. I did get good information from a poster session and also from one of the many vendors. However, I’m not sure if this passes the cost-benefit analysis.
- There are smaller library conferences like Forward Focus or ACRL’s bi-yearly conference. Most likely I will explore one of these.
San Francisco: What the fuck?
The major hotels and conference center are on the edge of the Tenderloin District. Jesus Christ on a crutch but I’ve NEVER seen so many mentally ill homeless in my life! You could not walk 100 ft without some freak-show asking for money. I had one call me a “nigga” and another call me a “bitch” for actively ignoring their pleas for cash. In the three full days I was there I counted five freak-shows pissing in the street.
Nestled near the downtown area, the Tenderloin has historically resisted gentrification, maintaining a seedy character and reputation for crime. Squalid conditions, homelessness, crime, illegal drug trade, prostitution, liquor stores, and strip clubs give the neighborhood a seedy reputation.
Librarian hurt: Yes, some poor old librarian wandered off the safe path and got bowled over during a shoplifting. She apparently ended up with a broken hip! Wrong place. Right time.
As much as I did not enjoy the conference at least I was not the salesperson who had to dress up like Elvis!
I bet this poor bastard drank himself silly each night at his hotel bar.
The New Exercise Experiment
More on this in an upcoming post. Say tuned!