Lurching Toward Transparency
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It's Not The Future Anymore

We have a post-meeting meeting over lunch on Wednesday.  We've been in Chicago for a week and we're all pretty wired and exhausted.  But we're giddy and happy.  There is general agreement among the members of the MLA Board of Directors that this has been one of the best MLA meetings ever.  Carla talks about the incredible energy that seemed to swirl through the conference.

We know why.  It's these guys.  Not just the four on the stage, of course (although that's a damned impressive quartet right there), but what they represent -- so many amazing librarians who've come into the profession in the last few years with a degree of passion, smarts, wit, exuberance, and joy that absolutely thrills me.   They were all over the place this year.

I think it was Bart, in that last plenary (although in the whirl of trying to remember everything that's happened over the last week I could easily be wrong), who said that we need to become familiar with the tools and the social networks and all the stuff because "that's where our future is."  I'll quibble with that a bit.  It's not where the future is.  It's where now is.  I feel like we've spent the last decade or two as librarians trying to catch up to the future.  It's time to quit running after it and just dig in and have fun with what's going on all around us right now.  No fear.

I ran myself ragged, of course, and didn't get to half of what I thought I was going to try.  But we had the bloggers this year, and that helped.  I checked in with 'em every night and morning, and they did a great job (despite the infrastructure issues that Krafty talks about).   I hope that as they get home and get rested, they'll each put up a few more posts before we all get on with our lives next week and the memories of this exhilarating week start to fade.

I've enjoyed every one of the twenty-five MLA meetings I've been to, but I don't think I've ever come home feeling quite so much that this year marked the turning of a page.  Mark (no relation to Carla) Funk gets huge amounts of credit, of course, but he'd be the first to point to all of the other people -- past presidents, board members, incredible headquarters staff, and all of the people who participate in sections & committees & task forces and all that stuff.  But he had the wit and foresight to seize this particular moment in time and demand that we live up to the opportunities facing us on all sides.  The right president at the right time (may the nation be so lucky, come November).

As Rothman quite rightly points out (and as Mark described in his inaugural speech last year), the point of the conference is the people you spend time with.    And even more than with most meetings, that's what I'm going to remember about this one.  There are still those in libraryland who will whine endlessly about the imminent demise of libraries and beat the doom drum that says we're all going to be obsolete in just a few years.  Fine.  If that's what makes you feel better, go ahead.  For my part,  I'm not worried.  You can't spend time around these people without getting excited about what's going on now and tomorrow and next year and the decades after that. 

I've been saying for years that it's a fabulous time to be a librarian.  It just keeps getting better.

My favorite single moment?  Monday night, late.  I felt honored.



It seems I picked the right MLA to be my first one! I'm delighted I got to be there for what really seemed to be an amazingly energetic and exciting event.

I love the point about this technology being "where NOW is." Saying of something that "this is the future" sounds cool, but also makes it seem more distant and less immediately relevant.

I think you're right: this isn't the future, or something weird and distant that we'll get to eventually. This is now, and it may be plenty weird, but it's the world we're living in and we need to work with it and take advantage of the wild and interesting tools we have available.

Brandi Tuttle

No T. Scott, it was us that were honored! I was happy to have David R drag me over to you to be introduced, since I'd been raving about how inspirational I found certain people to be (note: that includes you).
You provided a wonderful wrap up to a wonderful evening.

We will march on...

(and yes, that was a great pic wasn't it?)

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