Archive for the ‘Library conferences’ Category

Here’s to Boston

January 17, 2010

the land of the bean and the cod

where Lowells speak only to Cabots….

and you have to remember to say BLACK before coffee or it’ll come across the counter a light tan.


The world’s largest…

October 23, 2009

Chicago has been socked in by a giant pouring rain cloud since I arrived yesterday afternoon.  But the location of both my hotel and the meetings is such that I can walk about dry and amused:  the hotel is on the 15th floor of the Merchandise Mart, across a second floor pedestrian bridge from the world’s largest LEED Gold building…and that houses showrooms for furnishing designers.  It’s so wow!



On the first floor of the hotel building is the Illinois (as opposed to Chicago) Art Institute, along with a mural that can’t be fully captured due to the narrowness of the corridor along which it is gigantically painted.  So, here are just some details:

IMG_3004 IMG_3007

And then there’s the biggest mailbox ever….


The oddity of the beautiful school

October 3, 2009

The workshop where I spent the day here in Janesville was held in the John Kennedy Elementary School, a 10-year-old building with overwhelmingly successful design: colours, materials, lines, flexibility and light.  Linoleum hallways have pieces cut into them representing the trivium and the quadrivium; the high metal ceiling in the performing arts area is painted light blue with white “clouds” supporting the lights; heavy duty wooden cubbies on wheels line corridors but can be shifted away if the full width of one hall or another is required.

It occurs to me that I haven’t seen such a well designed–and well maintained–public school building in perhaps my entire life.  No scars on the paint from door handles that have banged for lack of doorstopper, cheery colourful tiles in the washrooms that are clean, clean, clean.  And, to boot, the presentations could take advantage of a stellar sound system, just fine projector and screen.  Even the lunchtime caterer arrived silently set up and returned to take down on cat’s paws.

The presentations rolled, too, like water off a healthy duck’s back. Fullcast’s Dan Bostick, with two teen actors, engaged; Michele Cobb wore her APA hat and showed emerging technology with all the grace of a chef making omelettes; CCBC’s Merri Lindgren talked books I already know and made them sound enticing all over again.

Was it the setting that kept things humming without the almost-always overtalker who throws off the schedule?

Nearly a dozen local teens came out on a Saturday morning to talk about their listening preferences–without a snarky one in the bunch (but plenty with enough insouciance to assure us that they weren’t a Stepford crop). No one complained about the sandwiches or the cookies; people said please and thank you and asked real questions.

In short the day fit the building, a kind of unanticipated idyll.

City of structure

July 14, 2009


Chicago is all about structure, construction, infrastructure.  it’s all rivets and rust, crenelated iron and crumbling concrete, architectural high- and  low-jinx.  It’s a feast for the eye but also for the hunger that wants to track how the pieces fit and how one set of grids causes another set of shadows. I love the underbellies of its bridges, the flights of fancy that stonecutters took when creating its early  

the underside of the cta tracks atop Wabash

the underside of the cta tracks atop Wabash

 20th century palaces and the even sillier ideas that arrived in the late 20th century.  It works.  

and the shadows and light pools beneathe the tracks in Wabash

and the shadows and light pools beneathe the tracks in Wabash





completely round parking tower

completely round parking tower

Conference Mondays

July 13, 2009

The Monday of ALA is always my favourite day of the conference week: the driven have had their competitive edges dulled by food and drink, the lazy have dropped by the wayside, and the storytellers have lost the last of their inhibitions while honing their tales and their energies for telling them.

This means that the storytellers I already know are handing out the gifts of well constructed and insightful narrative while the ones I don’t are also willing to share, all for just the price of “How are you?”

What could be better and more enriching among a bunch of folks who ostensibly share some level of devotion to knowledge management? And today, like high tide in January along the Massachusetts coast, the storyline is at full peak–and it hasn’t even reached midmorning.  I am in the lsitner’s version of hog heaven!

Working across time zones

July 11, 2009

Today’s the l-o-n-g conference day, starting early and going on into the night. Added to that is the texture brought by the fac that everyone in every room is still in his or her usual time zone: at 8 am CDT, the West Coasters are snoozing, while 12 hours later, Easterners will begin to nod.

The cureall to gets folks on the same awareness page is vats of caffeine, which, by later afternoon, will have everyone strung out…so they’ll add sugar.  It’s watching a strange biology project unfold, and that doesn’t even take into account the work…

…or the weather.  We’ve gone from comfortably cool to the more Chicagoesque hot and steamy.  Only we are all inside where it’s cold with air conditioning.

The bottom line: we don’t know what time it is, the climate is confusing and additives make folks’ blood rich with personality alternatives.

On the other hand, Halifax is rockin’ out to Sir Paul today.  So, I have, after all, chosen the saner path.

Mentorship as the power of reflective pause

July 10, 2009

As I was preparing for Annual, ALA’s office of international relations contacted me with an invitation to provide me, as an international participant, with an American mentor to help me through conference. Nice offer but not applicable within the parameters.  I responded graciously–graciously enough that instead I was assigned as a mentor.

And what a boon that turns out to be!  On the one day of conference that I ahven’t scheduled myself into silliness, I got to spend the first chunk of the day talking with someone who had good, crisp questions not only about maneuvering ALA Annual but thinking about her own career development. We got to talk about the digital native/immigrant divide (a, experience but not a conceptual term for her); the attractions of information management; the shibboleths of weeding (she works in the legislative library, not a public one); staff continuing ed.

The power of such conversations with a stranger who has come prepared to the discussion ready to engage is that it provides a reflective pause:  why do I do what I do with my work life?  Not a bad gift from a passerby to it.

realio trulio summer weather*

July 9, 2009

*with appropriate apologies to Ogden Nash

After a month of living in what seems to be a cloud chamber, I’m ecstatic to see today’s blue skies over Chicago.  Better, it’s not even typical-July-in-the-Midwest hot and humid….yet.

So, while you’re remembering my buddy Custard, via the above link, I’m back into the summer and off to the convention center.

Travel, with occasional vampires

July 8, 2009

Today’s travels were filled with more than a few vagaries: scrupulous security at the airport (yes, ma’am those are Canadian fives in my pocket); overlong hallways in the hotel (didn’t bring a GPS to relocate the elevator); the need to make two, instead of just one, trip to to get a cell phone (can’t carry my work one across the border).

But after that, I set out with a friend to get from point A to point B (with GPS) and we managed to find C and D before getting our heads screwed on.  It was almost as if the streets of Chicago had morphed into Anytown USA and wouldn’t let us bat our way back to specificity.  But we did, recovered our spirits–and took some in–at the Peninsula’s bar and then tried to collect supper.

We walked, on the theory that something would appear.  And, eventually it did.  How were we know that it was an unusual something until we were well inside?  Tilted Kilt, Pub and Eatery sounds pretty tame.  Not so much.  The kilts aren’t titled; they’ve abridged nearly into invisibility, aren’t kilts at all because they’re on women not men, and, best feature of all:  these people don’t record on cameras.  Eo ipso:  they must be vampires.

We both gave it a shot, or two or three or four.  But these wait staff were not recordable.

And, oddly, my caesar salad had no garlic in the dressing…..

The fleet and the not so much

January 28, 2009

A few hours before he left for the airport in Halifax to collect me from my flight from Denver-via-Toronto, Bob heard from Fred that our son had successfully hitchhiked from St Andrews to Berlin, his team coming in 6th in a field of 120. So, while I was dozing through the air, another family member clearly showed more gumption.  And poor Bob got to wonder Who’s on First.

Apparently, the phone call wasn’t the one full of stories so the only other details Bob acquired include the one about Fred getting a lift from a couple of RAF officers.  ‘Fred’ and ‘RAF officers’ in the same sentence strains credulity. But then, I was the recipient of a black feather boa at one point during the weekend and that’s a bit hard on the imagination as well.

That’s the beauty of travel:  it’s broadening for the audience as well as for the traveller.