Today is the first big day of activity here in Seattle for ACRL. The first big piece of news that greeted attendees is that the opening keynote speaker Naomi Klein was ill and would not be at ACRL. But the conference organizers provided an excellent speaker just the same. Rushworth Kidder gave a great talk on what he called our “ethics recession”. He told the audience about the importance of making moral courage an important part of our daily lives, and that the lack of it can lead to the catastrophic outcomes. It was an inspiring talk. I believe that ACRL has engaged quite a few librarians to blog the conference, but when I go to the ACRL conference home page I don’t see a link to the blog. I will try to get that information.
There was some pre-conference buzz about whether ACRL could extend its streak of setting a new attendance record as it has done for the past several conferences. Give the economic downturn and travel freezes at many academic institutions I expected that attendance would indeed be lower than Baltimore. But at yesterday’s opening session ACRL Executive Director Mary Ellen Davis announced that the Seattle conference attendance was higher – but not by much – than Baltimore. But there is a catch. There are actually fewer F2F attendees but the virtual conference attendees increased from 100 for Baltimore to over 300 for Seattle. So when you total both F2F and virtual registrations it appears that streak will extend. I have no doubt that Philly in 2011 will continue the streak. Who doesn’t want to declare their interdependence? The number that caught my attention though is that there are over 1,000 first-time attendees. I have noticed many fresh faces and newer-to-the-profession folks in the crowd. In fact I bumped into one of my former students at the exhibits who just graduated from the LIS program not long ago and is here networking and looking for job opportunities.
I did have one interesting experience to share yesterday. I attended the “ACRL Conference 101″ program for the first-time attendees. I staffed the ACRLog table and answered quite a few questions about blogging – and quite a few folks wanted to know how they might blog for ACRLog. I just wanted to use this as an opportunity to remind readers that we are always open to ideas for guest posts – and you can use our “tip sheet” link to get in touch with us. But do keep in mind that we don’t post about upcoming events for the profession. If you want to blog a post about an event you attended if there is something interesting to share – that could be of interest. But the interesting experience came about when one attendee told me how valuable ACRLog was and that many of the posts were inspirational. My reply was along the lines of “well if it inspired you in some way why not share your reflections or thoughts in a comment”. I was surprised by the answer which was “commenting at ACRLog is scary”. I never would have thought that. Perhaps it is because we do post a link to your comment right on our main page – so they are quite public. Given that I share my thoughts here regularly I never would have suspected that it might be a challenge for others to do so.
So all I will say is that if you would like to comment – even if it is just to say – I enjoyed that post or that post got me thinking – that’s all right. Your comment means a great deal to us and it could make a difference to another reader. So while moral courage is critically important to the survival of our society and culture, just making a comment is another type of courage – a small act of courage – that will add to the discourse in our profession and ultimately make it better.
More later on that ACRL conference bag.