Friday, June 27, 2008

A Sydney librarian at ALA - part 1

I arrived in LA this morning, to attend the ALA Annual Conference. I should warn you that I didn't sleep on the flight thanks to the guy next to me who decided to get drunk on his duty free vodka, and I haven't slept since I got here, and I just had a large, warm lunch. If I stop making sense or if this entry decends into zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz it means I've fallen asleep.

First up, the obvious - this place is massive. Like, everthing about everything is massive. Looking at LA from the plane, everything was in a grid and everything was the same and it was huge! All the houses looked the same - it was like I was flying over some of Sydney's more charming areas, you know the ones, Blackett and the like. Except that they covered all of Sydney...

I caught an airport shuttle to my hotel in Anaheim, which involved travelling along huge, wide roads that ran below or above other huge, wide roads. I was left with an overwhelming sense of concrete.

Anaheim is...hard to navigate around. It's in a grid pattern, but the blocks are really large and every street looks the same and is lined with palm trees, and there are no directional markers. I've gotten turned around many times already, and I've only ventured from the hotel once. Everything is either a hotel or a family restaurant - I don't think anyone lives here. If I look across the road I can see the rollercoasters and other rides at Disneyland, which makes me all conflicted - one part of me is all "Ew! Horrible tacky theme parks! Full of children and tourists!" and the other part of me, the part that remembers how much I wanted to go to America when I was growing up, says "I cannot believe I'm here. And I cannot believe the thing that got me here was being a librarian."

The conference - which hasn't even started yet - is so, so huge. Shuttle buses at the airport were labelled with "Welcome ALA delegates!" - this is LAX, not some little regional airport. I got in the non-ALA branded shuttle, and it turned out that everyone else in the shuttle was going to ALA. In fact it feels like everyone in town is going. It's a very strange feeling. I got a glimpse at the trade exhibition which is still being set up and I believe I really truly did stand there gaping for a while.

So I've registered, and have all my bits and pieces and paperwork. I was going to go over it all now and pull out sessions I want to see, but I have an increasing urge to sleep, and I suspect that lying on the bed reading a conference program probably won't do much to liven me up.

There are two things I want to achieve at this event. The first is to make it through our presentation with my reputations intact (i.e., not have it changed to "blithering idiot") and hopefully some sense of pride of having done it. The second is to reconnect with the libarian I want to be. The last few months have been a bit, how should I say, task-based at work, and I feel like I'm losing connection with my greater librarian mojo. At the end of this event I want to be proud of being a librarian again, rather than just stressed at how much work I have to do.

One last thing before the sandman takes me - I've been reading Don Watson's latest book American journeys in preparation for the trip, and cos I love his writing. I highly recommend it. That's all - it's just great.


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