Went to ALA in Chicago

Living with a library science graduate student has its perks.

Not Too Crowded

Two weeks ago I went to Chicago to see the big ALA conference. I came by train, armed with a backpack stuffed with clothes etc. And generally made off with the adventure having.

Friday evening I gathered up all the necessaries I had laid out in the living room the night before and stuffed them in my backpack. I walked to the station, a bit less than mile, through the neighboring neighborhoods.

It was the first time I rode in coach on an American train. It was slower and more cramped than the shinkansen, but felt more train-like with it’s conductors calling out the stations and big diesel engines.

I laughed at the Montana advertisement over the door into the terminal. Something like

- Few People Come Here
+ Few People Come Here

I took a taxi to the hotel. It was a little more complicated than I thought it would be because there were quite a few people on the train–significantly more than there were taxis. Also there were taxi barkers or something trying to get tips from people for helping them get a cab. It was a little crazy.

Saturday Morning 8 am

I snuck in to see Gregory Maguire talk about what he has been doing recently among other things. I wish I had taken notes because I don’t really remember much of it now. Depressing.

Afterwards, Sara and I went into the exhibition hall, fittingly called The Stacks. We looked at children’s books for a while and grabbed some galleys…

Did you know you can get free books at ALA?

Sara eventually went off to some official sessions and left me by myself in the stacks, until lunch.

Initially, I just wandered around. I had this strange suspicion that I would not be able to find an honest to goodness technical software book in the place and I wanted to test that suspicion.(Later I learned that O’Reilly usually shows up, but didn’t this year for some reason)

The reason I wanted to find software books or their lack was that my local public library’s section on software was rather meager and I suspected it had something to do with technical publishers not marketing software books to libraries.

In the end I found a number of technical publishers, but they were mostly peddling their database solutions, and they bring any of their software wares to show off.

Eventually that got boring so I started to talk to the software vendors.

Note: Lunch occurs somewhere in this period.

To summarize:

  • numerous data base vendors
  • ebook peddlers
  • language packages
  • SMS gateway services tailored to libraries
  • And an awkward demo of a set of keyboards intended to facilitate communications between deaf people

Telling people I was not a librarian, but instead a Software Developer sometimes elicited awe or confusion and other times a kind of oh well sort of feeling.

The best bit of the conference for me was the Newbery Caldecott Award Banquet. I shook hands with Neil Gaiman. I was among the 1200. And Sara got her graveyard book signed.

The second best bits were all the shoe conversations:

Shoes | Strange Comment Attractors?

“Whoah, those are crazy shoes.”
“My friend and I were wondering, are those comfortable?”
“Cool Shoes.”

Some Final Links
Integrated Library Systems:
Koha
Evergreen
Ex Libris
Cool Org/Com’s sites
Nolo
NASW

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