In other posts to this blog and elsewhere I have expressed my optimism about and appreciation for online conferences, workshops, and other online events, coupled with a growing sense that in-person conferences may gradually decline in frequency and importance as more librarians become acclimated to meeting online.
Personally, I find myself traveling less and meeting online more. Nevertheless, the joy of travel and attending large, energetic in-person conferences such as the ALA Annual Conference remains strong. There are certain aspects of in-person conferences that are difficult or impossible to replicate online.
The downside to travel is being away from family. Generally I begin missing my wife and children before I actually leave home. Max, my big lug of a dog, who also responds to Maxie Boy, Maxito, and Max-a-Million (my name for him after I receive his vet bill), probably is wondering what possibly could have caused me to leave and miss four days--or eight walks around the neighborhood, which may be the way Max measures the passage of time. If the historical anecdote is true that the housewives of Konigsberg used to set their clocks by the regularity with which the philosopher Kant took his daily walk, the households of my neighborhood in Beautiful Blue Springs may be wondering what happened to that goofy guy and his lovable dog who regularly pass by at approximately 5:00 (a.m. and p.m.).
In the interest of preparing a response to Max's question--telepathically conveyed--concerning what is so compelling about an in-person conference that would cause me to miss eight consecutive walks, I have decided to start the "Maxie Awards" to honor the various interesting aspects of in-person conferences. Here are my categories and winners for ALA Annual in New Orleans. Please feel free to use the comments feature of this blog to suggest other categories, nominate other winners, or even rebut my nominations.
- Best Conference Session: The Hows and Whys of Audiobooks for Children. It both instructive and entertaining. It included both producers and researchers on the panel. It informed the audience how audio books can aid in student learning and literacy.
- Most Interesting Thing Seen: Jay Jordan from OCLC moseying around the massive and popular Google exhibit, which, like Google itself, has grown from small beginnings to massive proportions in a few short years.
- Best WiFi Connection in New Orleans: The W Hotel. They have a unusual lobby with interesting Musack, too.
- Best Extracurricular Event: Hearing a three-piece funk band at the Maple Leaf Bar in a quiet neighborhood (well, beyond the sound of the band) on the far side of the Crescent City.