My ALCTS Experience

David Miller, Levin Library, Curry College

My initial plunge into ALCTS came about through “Web 1.0”-style networking. In fact, it was probably more like 0.5. In 1992, a reference colleague told me that there was actually an online discussion list all about cataloging. What an idea! This, of course, was AUTOCAT. I signed on then and remained more or less active through much of the 90s, getting to know others’ names and voices, but rarely if ever meeting anyone because, I told myself, I could not possibly manage to attend an ALA conference.

Then, in 1996, the ALA Annual Conference was held in New York. Living in Boston, with in-laws on Long Island, I decided I had to attend. I remember the first committee meeting I visited: the Genre/Form Subcommittee of the Subject Analysis Committee (SAC), chaired by Mary Charles Lasater. Near the end of the meeting, with a dry mouth and pounding heart, I spoke up to invite people to a poster session I was giving. I was wearing my name badge. Arlene Taylor turned around to look, and said something like, “It’s you!” We had met in actuality. This, I thought, was mighty advanced networking. And perhaps it really was back then.

Since then, it has been like one door after another opening on to new experiences and adventures: many pleasurable, some difficult, all rewarding, and mostly still more or less unexpected. A mere dozen years after 1996, it would be quite a challenge to name all of the colleagues (many of them friends as well) who have been supportive and encouraging. I have tried to return the favor to ALCTS to the best of my ability. And when people ask about how they can get involved, I always say: go find some group doing work in which you are interested, visit them, say “hello,” and stay alert for what you can contribute. Formal appointments can come later, but being there is first, whether “there” is in a conference room, a wiki, or Second Life. Woody Allen is right: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”