Midwhither

There’s nothing I love in this world like a working meeting, so I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t looking forward to this ALA Midwinter 2019: the Midwinter about Midwinter. The future of ALA’s annual Midwinter Meeting is a topic currently being discussed throughout ALA’s membership and divisions. Diminishing attendance and returns are driving a push for a comprehensive review of the conference structure and focus. Here’s a short post from the ACRL Insider that outlines the opportunities for attendees to participate in the discussion.

The conference promises to get real meta real fast. To be in the old model of the conference, imagining the future of the conference and pondering the shortcomings and opportunities of the existing framework, that takes a lot of mental flexibility and bandwidth. It’s like being inside a big empty box, thinking about what could fill it. It’s an ambitious Midwinter- which is not something I have encountered before.

Michael Jackson eats popcorn while smiling.
Me at Midwinter.

I love it when library shit gets weird. It’s like “Whither, Midwinter?” Or as I have titled this blogpost, “Midwhither.” Wherefore, even.

From the time I got into libraries, I encountered library workers ragging on ALA Midwinter. Hell, on the consortial side, vendors railed on Midwinter. It was a ghost town of committee meetings and some vendor events. A few staunch defenders would explain it was about business meetings. It always felt blustery- and it was often freezing. Sitting in the booth, letting people snatch bags by the arm-full, I’d take the meetings I could get and bide my time.

In case it wasn’t clear from the gif, I have no attachment to Midwinter beyond my (sometimes tenuous) connection to ensuring the sustainability of ALA as an organization. Per my last post, my organizational home is LITA, and as a numbers person I am not the first to note that the future of the organization is a challenge that must be addressed. Talking about an event like Midwinter, a veritable black hole of engagement, is a great place to start.

If you’re going to Midwinter and you’re interested in catching up, grabbing a coffee or whatever, please drop me a line! I’ll let you know what I hear at the conference in another blog post.

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