Annual is just around the corner. Our bloggers discuss what they're most looking forward to this year in the Windy City:
Jason Griffey: ALA Annual is always a blur of activity, and it's sad to say that while I tend to overplan like crazy, it usually takes me days after I get back before I really know what the most valuable part of the whole Annual experience was. There's a whole lot to look forward to this year, from the first ALA Annual Unconference to some great speakers (I'm looking forward to Junot Diaz, for example). But what I may be looking forward to the most is seeing what the effect of the LITA Electronic Participation Task Force Recommendations on virtual participation have on the conference. I'm hoping that a myriad of groups uses the suggestions to increase the number of people that benefit from the ALA Annual 2009 content, even if they can't make it to Chicago in person. I'm also looking forward to, of course, the 3rd Annual BIGWIG Social Software Showcase, on Monday July 13th in McCormick Place West room w-184! If you haven't experienced a Social Software Showcase, I can guarantee that they are unlike any other program at ALA. Come join us and see what I'm talking about.
Tom Peters: I'm really looking forward to the unconference preconference on Friday. Meredith Farkas and Michelle Boule are "unorganizing" this day-long event, which is yet another great presidential initiative from Jim Rettig and his band of merry pranksters. At the risk of revealing my overall nerdiness, I have to admit that I'm also looking forward to visiting the exhibits and speaking with vendors this year. Quite a few innovative resources and services are launching. It will be interesting to discuss them with vendor reps and other librarians. In general, even if Paddy Bauler, the ebullient Alderman of Chicago's 43rd Ward, was prescient in the 1950's when he noted, "Chicago ain't ready for reform," I think this ALA Annual Conference, 32 years after Paddy quaffed his last, will be remembered for the general mainstreaming and diffusion of technological twists that have been recently tried and tested: unconferences, online events, events in virtual worlds, blogs, wikis, tweets, videos, etc. ALA Annual Conference 2009 in the Windy City may be remembered years hence as the first major instance of a "reformed" new-style professional conference. It promises to be an exciting, high-energy conference.
Kate Sheehan: This is only my second ALA Annual, so in many ways I’m still figuring ALA out. My calendar is filled with conflicting sessions that all sound wonderful – I still don’t know how I’ll decide between Nora Rawlinson and Top Tech Trends! I’m thrilled by the idea of an ALA unconference, which seems like the perfect way to capitalize on the power of the friendly hallway conference at libraryland’s largest gathering. Last year, I found that walking the exhibit hall with other librarians was a great way to get ideas and spark interesting conversation about both the vision for and the day-to-day practicalities of our libraries and I already have an exhibit hall date with Cindi Trainor. Of course, I’m always happy to see my fellow TechSource bloggers and I can’t wait to see Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (one of my favorite NPR shows!) live.
Michael Stephens: Chicago in July will be beautiful: the lake, the cityscape, the hustle/bustle. The location this year is perfect for Dominican GSLIS students to attend - with exhibit passes or for the conference itself. I'm most excited about our students getting to see what a full-blown Annual is like because in class, when we talk about associations and memberships it doesn't have the same impact as being there. I'd urge LIS students who are near Chicago to take advantage of this opportunity to see the throngs of library folk. I'm doing a little bit of speaking as well, but I'm very excited to hear some of the folks I'm speaking with: Alan Gray from Darien Library, Bob Fox from Georgia Tech and Erik Boekesteijn from DOK Delft Public Library, all talking about their innovative services and spaces. I am also really excited about reconnecting with colleagues I only get to see at conferences.
Cindi Trainor: Each year's Annual Conference has its own flavor and highlights. This year, the thing I'm perhaps looking most forward to is meeting up with so many folks from my library during the conference. With Annual Conference a relatively short drive away, EKU Libraries' leadership team decided to support attendance of several of our library staff (who are all library school students or recent graduates) at the Empowerment Conference, a conference-within-a-conference held each year at Annual with library support staff in mind. This year's Empowerment Conference agenda is packed with great sessions addressing everything from leadership skills to protecting First Amendment freedoms in our libraries. Annual Conference can be huge and overwhelming even for seasoned conference attendees; I hope that the smaller scope of the Empowerment Conference--and of course, the exhibits!--is exciting and informative for all.