Monday was my last day at the conference, and it was a day of catch up. I wanted to make the Science Library in the 21st Century session, but just had too much to do. If anyone has some germane comments from that, I'd sure like to hear.
I was still north of the river when I got a call from Rita Scher, dean of Sherrod Library at East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, where I did internships, where I live). She and Katy Libby, my cataloging supervisor, were standing at Elsevier's booth. Rita asked if I was anywhere near. Nuts, no.
I got down to McCormick Place a bit before my stint at the 3M booth, wandered around in the Exhibits and bumped into Katy at the fantasy books tables and greeted her like a long-lost relative. Even though it's great to run into someone from home, everywhere I went--every event, session, shuttle-bus trip--I met friendly librarians. What, is it a condition of employment? Or do the non-friendly stay home? Or glue themselves together in laminated cliques? Even though I spent a good bit of time rushing about without a companion, I never once felt alone in this crowd of ~25,000. The one thing I did need by the end of the conference was quiet, a wall of silence for my ears.
I had to be at the 3M/NMRT booth at noon and was now out of time, so grabbed a bite of lunch...mmmmm carrot-cake from a book vendor. (BTW--did I mention that my Saturday hour in the NMRT booth passed in a flash. Who doesn't like NMRT? It would be like saying no to mom or apple pie.)
Each of us 3M/NMRT Professional Development Grant winners spent an hour in the 3M booth. But I'm not sure exactly what my function was. One of the 3M managers showed me around the products. I was impressed by their new self-check machine. I was even more taken with the wand that you can use to scan shelves for inventory, misplaced books, holds, etc. Goodbye eye strain and human error. (Not to say that machines don't make mistakes.)
I took a survey on how much I'd pay and what features I'd want regarding a lower-cost self-check prototype. So nonfunctional in that guesstimate, I probably skewed the survey way to the low end. 3M gave me a cool pen that has page-tag Post-Its built into the shaft.
I also took a quicker 3M survey on options of "aestheticizing" library-exit walk-through security gates. Would I like the gate in wood veneer? If so, what flavor of wood? How much would I pay? Would I like the gate in a color other than white? If so, which color and how much would I pay? Well, considering how much libraries are hurting for funds, I had to say $1 just to get myself on to the next screen...
...until I got to the options regarding gates with designs and images on them. Hmmmmm. A waterfall swirl would be pretty, but what if you thought NASCAR? (I'm from NASCAR country, although these days that could be anywhere.) You could charge companies big money for top placement spots on the gates. 3M might ante up at eye level. Innovative Interfaces and Ex Libris might jockey for position at elbow height. Think of the income!
Afterward I got so involved in a personal meeting that I missed the NMRT board and chair meeting back at the Marriott. A week or so earlier, Nadine Flores, incoming NMRT president, had caught me by cell in the Rite Aid greeting card aisle to ask if I would chair NMRT's Scholarship and Research Committee. Another deer-in-the-headlights moment. "Yes," I said. But, considering part of the object is publication and that's my background, it makes sense. By the time I arrived at the Marriott, the room was closed. So I called Nadine. She, Amanda Roberts (incoming NMRT VP), and I will be brain-storming ideas. Good stuff bubbling up.
All of a sudden, my first ALA conference was over. I felt like a top that had run out of spin and was in danger of toppling.
Just then, my sister Carol and step-daughter Tammy showed up for my last night in the city. We walked over to Emilio's on E. Ohio and spent two hours sampling six plates of tapas: thin-sliced portobellos in various sauces, duck-pate ravioli, curried chicken, eggplant rolled around goat cheese...with tastes of poached pears, profiterols, and flan for dessert. Bottles of wine are half-price on Mondays. Needless to say... Afterward we were so stuffed we had to walk down to Navy Pier and back.
The next day: an early architectural boat tour, before the 90-degree heat hit. Oh so worth it. And that's where today's pix come from, along with images from Millennium Park, which we wandered afterward.
What I loved the most is the Crown Fountain. This is such a people-friendly park, drawing Chicagoans and tourists alike, and clutches of delighted kids were splashing at the base of Crown Fountain's two facing towers with a broad splashing promenade between. Besides the waterfall effects of these fountains, moving images of faces are projected onto them, one on each tower. At a certain point, all the kids gathered below the mouth of the image. The mouth puckered, the kids sucked in their breath in anticipation, and....Splooosh...a jet of water shot out of the mouth, spraying kids as they jumped and danced in the cooling spray.
This city. Makes this Mid-westerner think I should return. Then I remember winters.
I'm not going to blog/blab unless there's good (or halfway good) reason, so I think this blog will come to an end with the end of the 2005 ALA conference. I am, however, going to Israel in a week to see my son, Ami, compete in the beach-volleyball open competitions of the Maccabiah Games. (Called the Jewish Olympics, it's held every four years.) Ami, a young psychologist, is big on the Southern California beach volleyball circuit. I know Israel and I'm going to wander around quaint neighorhoods such as Neve Tsedek, besides watching tall guys spike balls. Interested? Join me in a week or so at http://michalstrutin.typepad.com/maccabiah
...and thanks for joining me at American Library Association's 2005 conference.