Wednesday, June 28, 2006

American Library Association Conference in New Orleans

This was the first time there was a significant connection between the conference I was attending and its location. ALA was the first large conference theat New Orleans had tried hosting since Hurricane Katrina. I think we were all proud to be part of ALA, which chose to keep its conference in New Orleans and we all participated in whatever small way we could to help rebuild the city. This was emphasized in the opening session by ALA president Michael Gorman. Were were also greeted by New Orleans major Ray Nagin and Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. Nagin encouraged us to forget our diets and pay the New Orleans tax at the casino.

Madeline Albright as the keynote speaker was just plain awesome. She started with her appreciation of librarians and their role in the fight for the freedom of speech and access to information. She then went into the topic of her latest book
The Mighty & the Almighty, about the role religion plays in global politics. I regret not buying the book and getting her to sign it.

I liked the new format of many sessions, where the panel or presentation was quite short and was followed by poster sessions pertaining to the topic. This was much better than the mass of poster sessions in the exhibit hall about everything under the sun.

Dinner at Lance's house was delightful. All of the WMU contingent was there, even those who never did experience Lance as our dean. Luche had made a wonderful jambalaya with veggies and salad. The flan and chocolate covered strawberries disappeared quickly. I was happy to hear that their house, though affected, hadn't suffered any water damage. But the story of the Tulane library was much more sobering. Lance was a natural choice for speaking about disaster preparedness at the conference.

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