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A Dozen Neat Take-aways from ALA Midwinter 2009

My killer-app moment was with Summon, a new unified-search service from Serial Solutions that does what we really want a product like this to do: natively indexes data from its sources (databases, ebooks, OPACs, etc.) so that retrieval is fast and consistent. Summon makes your typical metasearch tool look like a rusty wagon with square wheels. (As for the alternative of A-to-Z lists for databases… they remind me of the grocery store toothpaste aisle, which has far, far too many options.)

Summon from Serial Solutions

Summon from Serial Solutions

LITA Top Tech Trends, smoothly orchestrated by its committee (with special shout-outs to Jason Griffey and Cindi Trainor). The tech even went up immediately! Michael Porter reports that in the video I looked like I was trying to lick the last drops of coffee out of my mug… watch it and decide ;-)

Great socials by Equinox and OCLC. Not as many folks as we thought (attendance was down at Midwinter), but both were good events. I left the OCLC Blog Salon to head to another event which the cabby could not find, so after 20 minutes I had him take me back to the Hyatt to return to the Blog Salon — what I later realized was me reverting to my Last Known Good Configuration.

Wonderful PUBLIB social at Baur’s — the best social in years, expertly coordinated by PUBLIB’er Mindy Kittay.

The Tattered Cover Bookstore. O.k., I have to admit, when I went there I almost had to poke the staff to get attention and their expressions were… bored; and the bookstore didn’t seem to have a whole lot of books. But I’ve spent years wanting to go there, and I done it.

Hyatt Regency Denver. I stayed in this hotel 15 months ago, for the first Defrag conference. I so adore it. Video art in the elevators, rooms that are designed around business travelers with movable desks and comfortable chairs, a great 27th-story lounge, a people-watching first-floor lounge… this is one of my top ten favorite hotels.

A meal and a social at the Curtis, a very amusing boutique hotel.

The LITA Forum 2009 meeting, expertly managed by my friend Zoe, even though I had to leave for a minute to rescue my Blackberry from the women’s room. I had to retrieve my BB three times at Midwinter.

Following ALA Council proceedings via Twitter. Yup, there are folks twittering key Council votes. Council may not be interested in transparency, but transparency is interested in Council.

Janet Swan Hill’s outstanding job on the Task Force on Electronic Meeting Participation. We got so much work done in advance we were able to cancel the second meeting — more time for exhibits, networking, etc. Isn’t that the point?

Snow – especially since it was other people’s snow. Didn’t have to drive in it, didn’t have to shovel it.

Lunches and dinners with my friends, and you know who you are. Christine, sorry I left early and had to cancel, but let’s pinpoint Chicago!

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6 Comments

  1. There should be a sign on the inside side of restroom door (or even on the inside of the stall doors) that simply asks, “Do you have your phone?”

    Monday, February 2, 2009 at 1:15 pm | Permalink
  2. TCer wrote:

    I’ve worked in book stores for the past three years, and on-and-off at Tattered Cover since July. It’s by far the best book store job I’ve had, in terms of atmosphere, business ethic, and my relationships with coworkers and customers.
    I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience there, and I’d like to take the opportunity to explain what’s been going on in the store lately. Basically, the economic downturn has hit us hard. In the past two months a depressingly large number of people have been laid off (myself included), and we’ve also had to make significant but necessary reductions in stock. The store definitely isn’t what it used to be. Hopefully the cutbacks will be temporary, and once the economy starts to bounce back we will, too. Meantime, even though we’ve lost some of our best people, we’re still doing the best we can, and counting on our customers for support.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Permalink
  3. TCER: I can sympathize. But note this. I walked from the Hyatt to Tattered Cover in the dark and cold, full of anticipation. When I got there, there were two staff with eyes glued on computer screens. I had to announce my needs and at that, I was walked to the shelves by an unsmiling young man.

    I actually made a purchase before I left the store, but it wasn’t because anyone was upselling me and it was more as a memento. I’m sorry things are hard and I know that affects morale, but I have many options for purchasing books, and the one thing the store has going for it — more than shelf inventory — is how good it can make its customers feel. It’s the vibe I get in my local library when a librarian walks up and asks me if I’m finding what I’m looking for.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
  4. Brian Gray wrote:

    I heard similar stories from others at the conference that made the hike. It seems like the bookstore lost on on some great opportunities considering all the book lovers that were in town.

    Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 12:01 am | Permalink
  5. Brian Gray wrote:

    It was great to follow the Council meetings on Twitter and hear the discussion that led to the decisions.

    Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 12:02 am | Permalink
  6. SteveH wrote:

    I lost my bluetooth on my way to hear you and Marshall Breeding……

    Friday, February 20, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. OLA’s Super Conference 2009 « Count Your Blessings on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    [...] agree with Karen Schneider’s blog that Summon, a new unified-search service from Serial Solutions is very impressive. Possibly related posts: [...]

  2. [...] Karen Schneider brilliantly put it, (ALA) “Council may not be interested in transparency, but transparency is interested in [...]

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