What else I did on my summer vacation

Thanks to Ivy’s generous spirit and willingness to put up with me, I had the opportunity to attend (most of) the ALA Annual Conference July 9-13. And for the same reason, I got to argue about the proceedings thereof to the point of annoying the living hell out of fellow passengers on the shuttle bus. That’s their loss for not joining in the debate, imho.

I spent most of the time investigating the so-called ‘discovery layer’ that’s apparently all the rage in library circles these days. Turns out, what patrons actually want is not the cluttered search screen divided into 57 different fields that librarians studied at school and came to know & love. What people want, strange to say, is a simple, clutter-free screen where they can search for what’s on their minds in a direct way and get a listing of everything relevant, with the best stuff sorted to the top. (Bonus points if some subject headings are displayed for the Browse Set.) Who knew?

Well I did. And of course Google did, although the bastards were totally copying my 1993 rant. But this is new news in the library world. Or rather it’s news to the vendors who have been failing to serve the library world. One exception (on paper, at least): Shout out to Ex Libris, who appear to have some sexy damned ideas about things. The rest of the industry is holding our libraries hostage to the technology of decades past, and they should all be plowed under for fertilizer. Word.

One side note: I could not believe the weather in Chicago. It was the depths of July, season of steamy despair, and we had glorious blue skies, 80 degrees F, and moderate humidity all but one day, when it clouded up and sprinkled a little. I was prepared for dripping rag weather, but it was insistently pleasant. Weird. Weird as hell.

One other thing: The S.O.B.s at LITA can smooch my spotty butt. Their open house was a disorganized mess, but they’re IT people, so you don’t expect a lot from a mostly social event. But at the end of one of their sessions, someone handed me a paper evaluation form. The IT in the middle stands for ‘information technology’ and they’re killing trees and rekeying paper forms. Fail. Then I tried to attend their web coordinating committee’s meeting to see if I could help with something. Not a single soul showed other than myself. I got my phone and laptop charged on the Palmer House’s dime while sitting in the empty room waiting for someone to appear and editing notes from earlier sessions, so it wasn’t a complete loss. But still: MegaFail for the web uncoordinated committee, the effing tards. LITA did sponsor a coupla cool sessions, but still. And one more major exception is Donald Lemke, the membership chair, who was quite generous with some unexpectedly relevant advice and backstory. Gratitude to this hoopy frood.

Session Notes

Originally published on arttartare.net