Welcome Back, “Campers”!

A Chicago librarian revels in the arrival of Libraryland to the Windy City

June 28, 2013

Summer camp was a pretty big deal to me growing up. Christmas couldn’t even compete—summer camp was my very favorite time of year. It was also the only chance I got to see my camp friends. This being my second annual ALA conference, I can’t shake the feeling I’m at Library Camp, and that this is the only time I get to see my fellow campers.

Even though I won’t make it to an “official” session until later this afternoon, I’m happy to say I’ve already had plenty of talks (and hugs) with all sorts of librarians from all sorts of places across the country. Library management, book bikes, best practices in blog analytics, librarianship for urban youth, ALA member retention—just a sampling of the conversations had at last (Thursday) night’s Think Tank meet-up at Citizen Bar. Folks came in straight off of planes and trains and road trips (a couple of students drove 14 hours up from New Jersey—they win gold stars for effort) ready to get into it for libraries and to catch up with folks they haven’t spent face-to-face time with since the last conference.

ALA 2013 really kicked off weeks ago—it has long been building on the energy of online communities as we’ve headed towards the (OMG it’s finally here!) IRL meeting. Social media’s a nice perk we didn’t have back in my summer camp days—snail mail just can’t quite keep the spirit alive in the same way as daily status updates. Frantic party prep and presentation planning have been all across blogs and Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Folks have been making plans for dinners and catch-up drinks or even a quick coffee between sessions.

That said, as much as I can’t wait to find out what I’ll learn in the different divisional presentations, panels, round tables, and speaker events, I’m beyond excited to take advantage of the fact so many gifted, enthusiastic, and FUN librarians are here, in my city. And hey, with the way things have gone already, I think camp might become my favorite time of year again.

KATE TKACIK is research analyst at the Bank of Montreal in Chicago.