The American Library Association’s Annual Conference has just started. Or at least, I think it has. There are so many preconferences that it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that the ‘real’ even starts – but the city is crawling with librarians, the exhibitions are open and I have a glass of wine in my hand, so it feels like it’s really happening now.
This is my first visit to San Francisco – I’m from Sydney, Australia – and this is my second ALA Annual Conference. My first was as a bright-eyed new graduate in 2007, but that feels like so long ago that I feel like a first-timer at this event.
The mind boggles at the sheer size of this event. There are over 25,000 delegates, spread across several massive venues. I’m speaking about the ILN as part of the international papers program, but I’m one of only 155 sessions happening at 1pm on Saturday. The conference program is over 300 pages long. I find myself wondering if it’s even reasonable to think of this as one event – surely it’s just lots of smaller conferences all happening at the same time? No one can be expected to be able to experience the ‘full’ conference, not at this size.
Luckily, for the new international visitor, help is at hand. My NMRT Conference Mentor has given me good advice about how to navigate the event – we chatted a bit online before the conference. There’s a special registration queue for international delegates, with a much shorter line, and there’s even an international lounge. Chairs are in short supply around here, so a dedicated lounge, where one can hear accents from around the world, is very welcome.
If you happen to be at ALA and you’re reading this, remember that the ILN has a meet up scheduled for Sunday evening. It’s an open affair – no need to RSVP, just come along and bring your ILN-curious colleagues.
And a quick reminder that on Saturday at 1pm, I’ll be speaking in Moscone West 2010 all about the ILN. Come to show your support for the program!
-Alyson Dalby, ILN Director