Member POV: Friday Planning for Serendipity
A meal at Shiro’s. In retrospect, I probably would not have enjoyed Ivar’s quite so much as this.
I like to plan. I also like to throw plans out the window. Before coming to any given ALA conference, I pore through the online scheduler. I look at the schedules of people I respect to create a skeleton schedule, and then I go look through the raw data of the ALA scheduler. I like to follow the axiom of Marcellus Turner: “Find the weirdest, zaniest event and go with that.” I take a good half-day figuring out my schedule, good eats, and so on. So it is safe to say that before I touched down in Seattle Friday afternoon, I had my day mapped out. Meet up with roommates. Check into apartment. Get registered. Attend “Research on Teens and Libraries” panel. Exhibits. Go to dinner at Ivar’s. Emerging Leaders Meetup after.
Predictably, that plan went poof when other people entered the equation. Instead of the panel, we detoured to Cyber Dog for lunch (yummy, if eclectic). At Exhibits, we ran into a great foodie librarian friend. Ivar’s became Shiro’s, and post-Shiro’s led to the Tasting Room. Neither Ivar’s nor the planned meetup occurred. This would happen again on Saturday: I’m a big fan of serendipitous excursions, because I believe I gain a great deal from these spontaneous outings.
Excursions can be considered networking, but I consider excursions to be the logical “next step” of networking. Excursions are when you get beyond the 20 questions of networking and get into the big thinking. Here are some of the topics we talked about: ALA leadership initiatives, abysmal library interfaces, engaging civic-minded coders to fix said interfaces, and conference trends. No great epiphanies, but superb for bouncing ideas and forcing one to think out loud about one’s own beliefs. Groundwork can be laid for Big Initiatives many moons down the road. We may bore the snot out of the significant others dragged along, but it’s good company, good food, good talk.
CHRIS KYAUK is a librarian at the San Leandro (Calif.) Public Library.