MLA update

I haven’t been keeping my log of MLA 2007 as up to date as I’d like, mainly due to lack of wireless access in the meeting and no Blackberry. After experiencing much frustration this meeting, I would highly, highly encourage the 2008 NPC to get free wireless access for all attendees. It might be costly, but it would be worth it to have a wired conference. I attended the E-Learn 2006 conference in Honolulu, which was probably about 2/3rds the size of this conference, and they provided free wireless. It was great–the whole room practically was filled with laptops and PDA’s and tablets.

Anyway, yesterday was pretty much chock full of meetings for me. I went to two sessions, one on generation gaps (the whole session) and one on integrating the library into first year medical school problem based learning curricula. The generation gaps presentations inspired much debate about whether generation gap theory is accurate or even useful as a distinction. Most of the presenters said yes, some said no.

To interject my opinion in the matter, I think it has a great deal of merit. I worked for one of the “greatest generation” at my last job, and I adored her, there were definite generational issues there. The biggest one was job loyalty. She had been grooming me to take over the library, and when I left as budget problems became too dire for me to stay, she felt personally betrayed because she thought I’d be there for a long time to come. Though I didn’t want to leave, I am a total Gen Xer–I know that the chances of me being ABLE to stay in one job the rest of my life are totally nil, and I operate at all my jobs in such a way as to keep myself eminently marketable for when the day comes where I will need to leave. Budgets get cut, jobs change, and my loyalty is to myself, not my employer.

I’m going off to the Quosa sunrise seminar now, but I will write more later, and I will link up a lot of these posts to the abstracts/PowerPoints later.


5 responses to “MLA update

  1. I agree with you on the wireless – I had the same frustration. There was free wireless in the exhibit area, but it wasn’t well publicized and the directions were harder to find than I would have liked.

    We are working on expanded wireless for 2008, but I can’t make any promises. Everything’s more expensive in Chicago. Please encourage colleagues who would use wireless at MLA08 to put this in the meeting evaluation comments or let MLA staff know as well as those of us on the NPC. They really work hard to provide services for members at these meetings, and they want to spend association resources and sponsor donations in a way that benefits the largest possible number of members and attendees.

    I’m biased, obviously, but I think it’s going to be a great meeting. Not only the NPC and the president, but also the section program planners are excited about the theme and looking for good content – so get those papers and posters in the queue!

    See you in Chicago.

    Jane Blumenthal
    Co-chair, 2008 NPC

  2. PS We’re hoping to have more blogging for the 2008 conference, and Lora Thompson (the other NPC co-chair) and I would love to hear how other ways to facilitate it!


  3. Hi Jane-
    Expanded wireless would pretty much be the answer to A, having more blogging, and B, facilitating communication in general. It was hard to blog as it was–I basically took notes on my PDA and then typed them in later in my room (no sense in lugging around the laptop if I couldn’t even blog live.)

    One option might be to have wireless access as a separate fee for people. Like for $15, you could have wireless for the convention. (It would have to be cheap, obviously.) Last year in Phoenix, I scammed Elsevier’s wireless from the whole convention area–I think this conference venue must have had more metal and concrete that didn’t let their signal penetrate very far in Philadelphia. Otherwise, it would have been great.

    One other suggestion that I have is that instead of just having an official conference blog that you talk to other bloggers who are planning to cover the conference, and get their permission to syndicate their content on the official blog. I’d also suggest trying to encourage Twitter use like they did at SxSW, with the updating video screen displaying all the SxSW attendees’ tweets as they came in.

  4. One quick comment on the generational thing — one of my mentors, Bob Braude, was very proud of the fact that he saw his library as a place for people to grow and develop and then move on. Bob retired a couple of years ago and is now in his late (?) sixties. He adopted that attitude from one of his mentors, the great Louise Darling, who also saw her role as a director as one of encouraging growth and development with the expectation that people would move on. Louise was director at the UCLA biomedical library (now named for her) from 1947 to 1978. While I have seen plenty of examples of the kind of excessive devotion to “job loyalty” that you mention, I’ve also known enough examples of the contrary to be doubtful that it’s a generational thing. So put me in the camp of those with doubts about the usefulness of claiming differences in generational terms.

  5. I suppose I saw her loyalty as less a generational thing than my lack of it, really. And her loyalty was far from excessive. 🙂

    A number of the presenters made a more clear distinction: between those with long-term library experience and those without it. They all noted that both sides have a lot to offer the other.

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