Librarians at Work and Play
I am feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation as I gear up for my first American Libraries Association (ALA) conference, the Midwinter Meeting in late January. Even as an unabashed conference enthusiast, I find the concept of 12,000 librarians converging on the Pennsylvania Convention Center somewhat disconcerting. It was in this mind-set that I came across left-leaning journalist I. F. Stone’s flippant description of the 1949 American Political Science Association meeting:
"These scholarly gatherings, for all their diversity, have one point in common. Their principal purpose seems to be the cultivation of the science which found its Aristotle in Dale Carnegie. They combine Christmas-time conviviality with the business of making "contacts," the American way of "getting ahead," whether in soap or science. In this, as in the name badges pinned to their lapels, the savants crowding the lobbies of the Roosevelt are not outwardly distinguishable from Rotarians or morticians.
The big men of these associations take advantage of the visit to cultivate those bright lights of Wall Street who like to think of themselves as serious thinkers and can often be induced by reverent listening to endow periodicals and “chairs.” The younger men take advantage of the occasion to meet the older men, and do their best to make an impression which will be remembered when a vacancy occurs.”*
Though a conference veteran, I’m not as jaded good ole’ Izzy Stone quite yet, so I’m looking forward to co-presenting on accessibility and universal design with my fabulous ARL mentor, Judy Ruttenberg, at the ARL Leadership Symposium on January 25th, giving two presentations on my National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) project with my 9 fellow residents on January 26th, attending some interesting conference sessions, and checking out what the great city of Philadelphia has to offer. While I will not be selling soaps, donning lapels, or cultivating bright lights of Wall Street, I do hope to crowd some lobbies and meet some serious thinkers.
*Stone, I. F. “It May Be Political — But Is It Science?.” The Truman Era. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1953. Page 145.2 notes