Late last month, I attended American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting 2014 in Philadelphia. Although it was my second ALA conference, it was my first Midwinter Meeting, as well as my first visit to Philadelphia in several decades, and I really enjoyed both Midwinter and Philly!
I drove up to Philadelphia on Thursday, checked into my hotel near the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and unpacked. I was stunned to realize I’d left my makeup bag hanging on a hook on the back of my bathroom door AT HOME! So, I immediately got a mini-tour of the surrounding area by heading for the nearest drugstore on foot for new makeup. (Of course, I’d bought several new makeup items before I left, so I kicked myself for the lapse in packing!). Since I’d been driving all day, it felt good to walk around for a bit, and fortunately, that was the worst thing that happened on my trip, so no harm done in the long run!
On Friday morning, I enjoyed participating in my first unconference, where I enjoyed a lively conversation about open access, data management, and electronic resources around the table I chose to join. For lunch, I attended an ALA “Dine Around Philadelphia” event hosted by one of my former classmates and NCCU SLIS alum, Ta-Shire Tribbett. It was a lot of fun catching up with her and meeting several new people at El Vez, a cute Mexican restaurant within walking distance of the convention center. There were three other library students at the table, as well as three professional librarians, so we enjoyed comparing notes.
One of Saturday’s highlight was attending two committee meetings, which sounds crazy, I know! Both committees are under the umbrella of the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA), a division of the American Library Association. One was the Membership Committee, where we discussed our Sunday night Happy Hour in Philly, and plans for another Happy Hour at Annual ’14 in Las Vegas. I’ve had several conference call meetings with this group, so it was great to put faces with voices in that meeting. The other committee meeting was the LLAMA/SASS (Systems and Services Section) Technical Services and Systems Committee. There, I volunteered to write a chapter for the committee’s upcoming book for new supervisors in Technical Services departments! Once I finish and get feedback and editing, the book will go to the next phase of publication. I’ll keep you posted on that!
I also enjoyed an interesting session on “Core Competencies for Electronic Resources Librarians.” Saturday afternoon. One of my professional goals is to get more involved in e-books, so I got a lot out of it.
Saturday night, I joined a different group of librarians at another “Dine Around Philadelphia” event, dinner in Chinatown at Penang, which was very enjoyable. The food portions were generous, especially for the price. I didn’t know anyone in this dinner group before we arrived, so it was fun getting to know some new people over a yummy dinner. I enjoyed seeing a little bit of Chinatown, Philadelphia style, too.
Sunday morning, I attended a program on metadata, and followed it with a Hack Library School lunch meetup, which was fun! After lunch, I joined a session in progress, but checked the conference schedule on my iPhone, and noticed that my cousin, Christina Baker Kline, was scheduled to start signing copies of her latest book, Orphan Train, at the HarperCollins booth in 15 minutes, so I scooted out of the session and surprised Christina in the exhibit hall! We enjoyed catching up over Diet Cokes at the Marriott after her book-signing was over.
From there, I joined the LLAMA Membership Committee (one of my committee assignments for this year) at our Midwinter Happy Hour at Smokin’ Betty’s, another cute restaurant within walking distance of the convention center. About 30 people showed up for the Happy Hour, which we counted as a fun success, and several of us stayed on for dinner. (I had their Marinated Grilled Vegetable Sandwich, which was great!)
All in all, it was a really good conference! I wish I could’ve attended more sessions, and I play tourist in Philadelphia as much as I wanted to, but it’s challenging to fit all the “wanna-dos” in. I’m definitely looking forward to ALA Annual in Las Vegas this coming June!