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ALA in Hand-to-hand Combat with Al-Qaeda

“We were asked, for the first time this conference to keep meeting locations confidential, at the request of ALA Conference Services…”

According to a Councilor posting to the Council list, the American Library Association is employing a new tool in the War on Terrorism: for the ALA conference in New Orleans–you know, the sub-sea-level city with the damaged levees, the one we’re traveling to in hurricane season–the business meeting room locations are now kept Top Secret.

At least, I think it’s a new tool in the War on Terrorism–ensuring all ALA meetings have the Element of Surprise–because there’s no other fathomable explanation. Does ALA really think its members will fly cross-country (to New Orleans in June, no less) to sneak into business meetings? Are we worried that some member will skulk into the Subcommittee on 500 Fields and learn something he or she didn’t pay to acquire? And as Kate Corby so reasonably asks, why are we advertising the locations for programs and events–the “candy” of the conferences–but hiding the location of boring old meetings?

I admit to a certain amount of animus toward Conference Services, which is the section of ALA with such leverage that it can foist bad software decisions such as the Event Planner on the rest of the organization because everyone’s afraid of them–and then not even step up to the plate to say, yeah, ALA IT and the Web Advisory Committee really have no input on this decision, so blame us. Conferences are revenue, and revenue funds ALA, so Conference Services wields mighty clout.

But you know, I haven’t registered yet for ALA Annual, and as a consumer I am carefully evaluating my decision here. Just how difficult should it be to plan for and attend an association conference? And who gets to create and enforce those inane rules? Are we witnessing the apotheosis of Conference Services, in which all decisions will be made by a handful of hidden bureaucrats whose bellies are engorged with absolute power?

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