Friday, January 11, 2008

Day One at ALA Midwinter

I made it to Philly safe and sound. I'm staying at a Holiday Inn on the edge of the historic district. I was a little worried about it because the online reviews were pretty mixed. The hotel itself is fine---the rooms are small, but clean. There is a fire station across the street and I can hear sirens every now and then, but it's a city. Most importantly it has free wi-fi and it's a short half mile walk to the convention center where ALA Midwinter is being held.

After I got set up in the hotel, I made the stroll down to the convention. Right next to the hotel is Christ Church Cemetery, where old Ben Franklin is buried. Along the way I passed the Constitution Center, Philly's African American Museum, and China Town. It's going to be hard to resist the temptation to ignore the conference meetings I came for and hit all the historic sites instead. If the daylight is nice tomorrow I'll take some pictures of things in between meetings.

After getting registered and picking up the required badge and tote bag----what is it with librarians and tote bags---I wandered into the exhibition hall. It's a bit overwhelming, to say the least. There are vendors you'd expect: publishers, database providers, video distributors. But there are vendors for everything else under the sun as well: carpet companies, furniture stores, book carts, and on and on. For reasons beyond my understanding, they even had a tooth whitening stand (in just twelve minutes, you too can have a whiter, brighter smile).

The only thing on my agenda tonight was the YALSA Gaming Night. It was fun, but not quite what I was expecting. Basically, YALSA set up about ten game consoles in a ballroom and provided some food and drink. People---myself included---strolled around and tried things out. I tested out Wii bowling, Guitar Hero, and a couple of racing. They were fun but I was expecting a bit more from the event. Some discussions, presentations or even a little friendly tournament to give it a bit more structure. As it was, it was a nice social mixer, but for $40 I was expecting a little more.

Tomorrow I'm up at 7:30 for an early breakfast meeting with a database provider, and then I'll try to hit some cool stuff throughout the day. Until next time...


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