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Buying a new car (and there’s even an ALA 2008 tie-in)

So Sandy’s car is kaput (of course, since she’s temporarily between jobs — isn’t that how it works?) and I am going to bequeath her my trusty Honda Civic and get a new-to-me set of wheels. Probably not brand-new. I’m thinking a gently-used Prius or Mini-Cooper — exactly what I was thinking these last few months when I told myself that it wasn’t a good time to buy a new(er) car. But now it is, because this isn’t a walking/bus town, so we can’t share a car.

The last time I bought a car was 1998. It was my Civic, then almost five years old, and I vaguely remember using newspaper classifieds. It’s 2008 (in case you hadn’t noticed), and I have no idea how to buy a car. I suspect it has something to do with The Internets, which through a series of tubes process new and used cars which then extrude into sundry communities across the U.S.

At least that’s my first guess. If you have suggestions, I’m all ears. I’ve heard it might be the season for rental agencies to sell their cars. I’d like to cut to the chase and ask Avis to sell me the green Prius I keep renting here in Tallahassee, because I love that car.

I admit to being a teensy bit excited about the idea of a new (to me) car. My Civic is a superb little vehicle that has treated me well all these years. I love driving it, it’s been easy to maintain, and it has Been Places. (New Jersey, New York, California, and now Florida — plus it traveled Route 66 in 2001, when we moved to NorCal.)

But even though it’s not the financially easiest time for us to get new(er) wheels, I do keep thinking about the features in the cars I drive when I rent. Even the incredibly stripped-down budget car I rented in Boston two weeks ago (hello, manual windows and locks!) had two accessory outlets and cupholders. Yes, shallow, but my cup-holders have never worked (they were an early model…), and on a five-hour drive I like a place to park my diet root beer. I am even a little tiddly over the idea of a car in which I could unlock the driver’s side without opening my door and pressing a button. Little things, things that I have chosen to live without, but now that Moderne Automotiveness beckons to me… well, I am tempted.

Naturally, this thread segues into the work of the ALA Task Force on Electronic Meeting Participation.

We on the Task Force completed a survey last month, and though I haven’t gone over the data yet, a quick peekaroo indicates that a lot of us love ALA dearly, but we do think we’re ready for an upgrade. We don’t want to leave ALA; I’ve said earlier, if we tried to form a library organization, it would end up looking a lot like ALA. But we do want to see our dear old association get a makeover.

We want to be able to fully participate in the work of the association without expanding our carbon footprint to the size of Bigfoot’s.

We want our work to be seamless.

We want ALA to stop distinguishing between “virtual” members and other members (and to stop punishing librarians who choose to participate electronically), because in this day and age, we’re ALL virtual members.

We want ALA to support our virtual efforts and to stop pretending that a meeting is more “open” if it’s face-to-face, even if it costs thousands of personal dollars to travel to.

We want ALA to be accessible to all.

We want to be part of ALA, unencumbered.

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