Best Practices Pre-Conference or Old Home WeekI’m bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go for my pre-conference session which will last pretty much all day. Intoxicated by the great food last night, I go down to Oro for breakfast and am not disappointed. I order the Brioche French Toast with bananas and raisins which is heaven on earth and the portion size is enough for three people. I ate as much as I could (thinking of the bus ride to the school’s later, one must be careful) and walked over to the convention center. About halfway there, I saw the shuttle bus, so I hopped on and I had a nice conversation with the bus driver. It was easy considering I was the only passenger! At the convention center, I stood in a very long line to register and get my badge and materials (P.S. – no tote bag at midwinter. Kitty would be horrified) and then hustled over to the Marriott for my pre-conference. I found the ballroom and settled in to a seat.
The was hosting the pre-conference for AASL which focused on best practices. And Northside should know considering that they won the National School Library Media Program of the Year! What a dynamic, fun group of libarians. They prepared a fun, interactive day for us with lots of demonstrations, group discussions, and a great tour of some of their schools. I had a lot of fun speaking with other librarians (several independent school librarians as well) and catching up with people from the past. Valerie Diggs, the director of library services in Chelmsford, MA where I did my practicum at one of the middle schools was there. (I was supervised by the ever-wonderful Joan Wright. Joan is retiring to Vermont with her husband - go, Joan!). Valerie has been helping out with the school library classes at Simmons to great reviews from students. It was so wonderful to see her!
Another pleasant surprise was the presence of Hotchkiss attendee Walter DeMille who I had interviewed with when Ethan and I were doing the search that brought us to Sem. I remember Walter as just the loveliest person and a real treasure-trove of information (he takes the somewhat controversial approach of intershelving media – DVDs and Cds are shelved amoung the books with the same Dewey number) and I enjoyed hearing about what he’s been up to the last few years. I look forward to seeing him again at AISL in Atlanta this year!
The pre-conference brought us back from our tours at just the right time – we were able to get back around 5 pm and the exhibit hall opened at 5:15. Imagine my delight when I found out that GREENWOOD PRESS HAD CHAUCER BOBBLEHEAD DOLLS!!! Readers of my blog will remember how elated I was in scoring all my Jane Austen bobblehead dolls at the Pittsburgh conference so I had no idea that Chaucer was going to be next in line!! Suddenly it was a high priority to be first in the exhibit hall and specifically the first at Greenwood Press’ booth. Fortunately, ALA Midwinter attendees are amateurs compared to the AASL mavens (and the security here at San Antonio is much better – there was a commanding security guard who was brooking no hedging forward). I was first through the door and actually ran to the Greenwood Press booth where I clearly startled the exhibitors while I gasped (it’s a big hall), “I….hear…you have…Chaucer bobbleheads…” while clutching the stitch in my side. A very nice woman listened to my tale of my wonderful Library Advisory Board and how they have come to expect a bobblehead from every conference, about how we decorate the bobbleheads for Christmas, about how we knit blankets for the bobbleheads, etc. Probably just to shut me up, she went under the counter and pulled out two of them and she said something which must have been, “Is two okay?” but she was facing the cabinet when she said it so I didn’t quite hear what she said and must have cocked my head questioningly. She took it mean that two wasn’t enough, and so then added (this time in my direction), “Oh, well, I bet three is better” and gave me three! In a snazzy totebag!! Score.
I walked around the exhibit hall some more and only managed to see probably one fifth of it before I was exhausted. The ALA President, Michael Gorman, announced at the ribbon cutting that this was the biggest exhibition hall for any Midwinter conference, ever, so it wasn’t just me being overwhelmed. The ProQuest people were really nice and let me go up onto the top deck of their double decker booth to take a couple pictures of the exhibit hall for the AISL newsletter which was much more effective than from the ground. Once I had a good three bags worth of stuff (mostly paper that I read that night), I limped to the shuttle bus and headed back to my luxe hotel room. On the way, I was talking up how great the Oro restaurant was at the Emily Morgan and I must have made an impression since one of my bus mates showed up behind me while I waited to be seated. We ended up having dinner together which was really lovely since I got to hear all about her work at a regional public library in Oklahoma. I love hearing about the work of other librarians – the whole profession is really interesting and just populated with nice people.
Early to bed after a call home. I was so tired I didn’t even take a Jacuzzi!