I'm going to the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference this weekend. It'll be right across the street from Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. I have this image of ten thousand librarians walking around Anaheim in Mickey Mouse ears.
The official conference logo has a somewhat different image:
Which I think is really misleading, since Anaheim is about 20 miles from any beach, and I don't know how people are going to get much surfing in, what with all the seminars on issues like Aligning Financial Decisions With Strategic Directions and Cataloging Cultural Objects in Libraries. (I am not making those up.)
I mock, but all professions have geeky seminars that sound excruciatingly boring to outsiders. There are sessions that I'll get excited about attending, but I haven't find them in the program yet. I'll probably do that on the plane.
This will be my third ALA conference. The first one I attended was in Chicago in 2005, then I went to New Orleans in 2006. I skipped it last year. The thing I really love about these conferences is seeing old friends from library school and getting free stuff.
Swag, it's called, which is an acronym for Stuff We All Get. Walking around the exhibit hall, vendors practically throw the stuff at you: bags, mugs, notepads, stress balls, folders, books, bobble-head dolls, bookmarks, and pens. Oh, the pens. I love pens and collect as many different ones as I can-- from banks, hotels, conferences. Whatever entity wants to promote itself on a writing implement, I'm happy to take it. I'll probably come home from ALA with about two dozen new ones. The pen that I use to balance my checkbook was one that I found at ALA three years ago. The fineness of the writing tip is the perfect size for writing in the small money ledger. And it's lasted three years. Not bad for a cheap piece of swag.
In Chicago, I got to the convention hall early on the first morning so that I could secure a Jane Austen bobble-head doll for Rebecca. (She had seen it in the conference program and had to have it.) The following year I waited in line to see Neil Gaiman, one of Rebecca's favorite authors, and get a free signed copy of his latest book.
This year I guess I won't be waiting in any lines for wife-related swag. That will just leave more room for my army of pens.