What You Can Do In Seattle With Just 36 Hours

Those academic librarians who travel to Seattle for ACRL’s 14th National Conference will be there, on average, about 60 hours. According to the New York Times that will leave plenty of time to explore the city of Seattle. A travel section article offers a diverse listing of fun things to do and see in downtown Seattle in just 36 hours. That leaves more than enough time to catch a couple of the keynote and invited speakers, a panel session or two, mix with the poster session crowds and still experience Seattle. The article provides a nice mix of the obvious tourist things not to miss while in Seattle, along with some lesser known attractions. It even points folks to the Seattle Public Library. For those going to Seattle for the first time I’d recommend leaving some time (a half-day should suffice) for a side visit to Bainbridge Island – which also gets you on the ferry.

As the article says, downtown Seattle is now more like its own neighborhood and less like a place to go see the Space Needle.

Speaking of Seattle . . .

While you’re planning your ACRL travel – or if you’re still on the fence about it – here’s another event to consider. Radical Reference (“answers for those who question authority”) is planning a preconference unconference to be held on Thursday, March 12th on academic libraries and social justice, including programs and collections of an alternative bent.

An unconference is a relatively spontaneous and unengineered conference at which attendees share information and generate ideas, unfettered by a rigid schedule or high registration fees. Though this is a relatively new concept for libraries, something similar was organized for an ASIS&T regional conference in 2007 – InfoCamp Seattle. As described by Aaron Louie,

In the library and information science community, there are limited – and often cost-prohibitive – venues for social interaction and professional development. Our field is constantly evolving, and those without a substantial travel budget or professional education program are left behind . . .

. . . we didn’t need to look far for alternative conference models. In recent years, collaborative, open conferences have become increasingly popular. The common element is that the attendees create the content, usually day-by-day, at the conference. This species of conference is generally known as an “unconference” . . . our schedule would not be decided beforehand. No speakers or topics would be pre-selected. We would create a theme, invite the right people and let the attendees decide what they wanted to talk about. By design, it would be participatory and user-centered, encouraging input, discussion and debate from everyone who attended.

Sounds like an intriguing addition and/or alternative to the traditional library conference.

The Quirky Side of Seattle

If your institution’s travel budget for this fiscal year has not been decimated and you still plan to go to ACRL’s 14th National Conference in Seattle – I’m going and I hope you’ll be there too – the New York Times Travel Section has a great article all about “the other side” of Seattle. It covers lots of places to go and things to see that you won’t find just walking back and forth from your hotel to the convention center. From the article:

Ballard and Fremont, once cities in their own right, are now Seattle neighborhoods of a particularly independent-minded kind. They’re close together, though not contiguous, and if you travel to either of them today, you’ll encounter a unique character that still resists complete assimilation — Nordic and proudly maritime in Ballard; arty and free-spirited in Fremont. Each is undergoing a kind of 21st-century renaissance, with shops and restaurants moving in, and a new, often young crowd arriving to live or just to play. But in either one, you can still lose yourself so thoroughly that you will barely even remember you’re in the same town as the Space Needle.

What’s really kind of nice is that for the sections on places to eat, see, etc., if you look at the comments you can see that the locals have chimed in with lots of “go check out this restaurant in Ballard that just opened” information that that will not be found in the standard Seattle travel guides. Of course I know that all you super-dedicated academic librarians will be spending the bulk of your time in the programs, making deals with vendors and otherwise formulating strategic plans in your interest groups. But if you do get plan to save a little free time to explore Seattle you should definitely print out and keep this NYT travel article in your conference bag.