Librarians like to go to conferences. On the surface, this is because we enjoy learning new things, meeting with vendors, and networking with colleagues. In truth, we suffer through the learning, meeting, and networking only because we know there will be a party at the end of the day. The post-conference party is the reason– the only reason– we have conferences. Ask any librarian.
I got to the conference early– early, mind you, on a day when I wasn’t supposed to start work till 1– to hobnob with the vendors. This is a very important part of conference attendance for any librarian. The reason it is so important is because each vendor has free candy, pens, books, squeezy rubber stress balls, novelty bobblehead toys, bookmarks, and/or dildos to give away. (Have not actually seen a Free Dildo display. Vendors take note.)
The most remarkable vendor interaction came when I sidled up to the Behemouth Industry Juggernaut (BIJ) booth. "Hi," I said. "I’m Jessica Kennedy-Rockefeller with Wilhelmsplatz."
Both exhibitors stopped in mid-sentence, gave the cold shoulder to the people they’d been chatting up, and turned to me in awe. The one fellow dropped to his knees, promised to divorce his wife, and proposed marriage. The other lady presented me with a 14-carat diamond-encrusted tiara. The Juilliard String Quartet appeared from the sidelines and began playing my favorite chamber music. An Angel of the Lord apparated in a very tasteful halo of fire. Birds sang. Bunny rabbits hopped. World peace ensued.
I swear, my own mother has never greeted me with as much enthusiasm as the BIJ folks did. I mean I’m used to warm receptions and fawning admirers, being Jessica Kennedy-Rockefeller and all, but good day. These people really, really like me.
Attended a very cool session on Library 2.0. Lots of cool ideas on blogs, social networking sites, wikis, website syndication– cheap or free trendy technologies that libraries can use to woo patrons/users/customers.
(Sorry, but I can’t get into "user." I realize that "patron" makes us sound like Medicis, and "customer" makes us sound like Wal-Mart, but user? "I’m sorry, ma’am, Alyosha can’t come to the phone. He’s helping a user." … "Yes ma’am, I realize I’m a pale imitation of Alyosha, but could you possibly compromise your integrity and permit me to assist you?" … "Yes ma’am. Thank you ma’am. It’s an honor to place a hold on this James Patterson book for you. You’re number 438 on the hold list. Yes ma’am. Go to hell, ma’am.")
Attended a thoroughly useless session on the application of websites as a marketing tool. Had such insightful advice as "it should look good!" and "patrons can use your website to check the catalog!" Waste of time. Want my forty-five minutes back.
Then scurried off to the liberry to work the desk for a few hours. Got to know Jim Casy better. Through stories, got to know more about Jim Casy’s older sister, Jim Casy’s other older sister, Jim Casy’s younger sister, Jim Casy’s mom, and Jim Casy’s dad. Quiz to follow.
Then scurried back to the conference to claim my free margarita. Then to claim the free margarita of a friend from liberry school I’d run into. Then to claim the free margarita of a former coworker I’d also run into.
Hung out with several of my new coworkers. Debated politics with spouse of one of said coworkers. Deflected lewd comments from some aging has-been frats. Comported self with perfect grace, articulation, and clarity, or leastaways that’s how I remember it.
Glad I got the chance to hobnob with a few of the folks outside my immediate circle of coworkers. There are a great many departments at the library. In fact, this library has more departments than my former library had warm bodies working for it, subs and volunteers withstanding. (This new library has to turn away volunteers, there are so many. It’s obscene.) I’m starting to get to know some of the personalities that populate the Other parts of the liberry, and what a motley group it is.
Let me put it this way: my new purple hair fit right in. This is very, very encouraging.