Cultural Osmosis: ALA 2012 Annual Convention

As I’ve gushed about on Sunday, I went to the annual American Library Association conference last weekend. Some of the things that stuck in my impressionable mind from that experience are

  • The rage of print: whatever the trends going on in the publishing industry, the publishers’ exhibit booths are still awash in print materials. Ebooks may be the talk in the air, but posters, catalogs, notepads, and p-books are what are adorning the walls, lying on displays, strewn on the floor (the free ones at least), and being hawked by the young, fashionably dressed, bright-eyed literary men and women. Many of my enterprising follow conference goers found great opportunities to pick up promotional materials. One came away with 114 free (p)books. Not a single one got an e-book. Nobody was giving them out. Vendors like Overdrive and others were there to talk about ebooks, but only the p-variety was actually there for the buying (at an increasing discount as the conference wears on) or free taking. Go figures.

Speaking of free stuff — a perennial conference-goer’s concern that I sadly neglected due to inexperience — there was no predicting which publishers would be most generous with their stash. Random House was absolutely stingy; while HarperCollins seems to have given quite a bit away. Oxford University Press refused to discount their limited display to anything more than 50%, while the University of Chicago Press, a much smaller operation, was freely dispensing with monographic as well as serial titles. I really should figure this out by the next conference!

  • The smart, smart lawyer-librarians: I went to a bunch of copyright talks and saw a bunch of really smart lawyer-librarians talk. I even got to see my idol, Kevin Smith of Scholarly Communications at Duke. He looks exactly like the picture posted on his blog and just as impressively articulate in person. I wanted to come up to him after the talk he gave and express my admiration (completely with swooning), but alas, was too shy and Kevin had other intelligent (non fainting) people to talk to.
  • The smart, smart IP professor: the best talk I attended, by far, was that given by Jennifer Rothman, a professor of law at Loyola Marymount. She criticized the ARL’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries a fair deal. While there were principles in the code with which Professor Rothman agreed, she flat out said that the code was wrong — by which she means refuted or would be refuted by courts — in multiple places. This is in stark contrast with Kevin Smith, who, I believe, mostly if not wholly supports the code. I also found out that Professor Rothman is a colleague of Jessica Litman, who wrote my favorite book on copyright, Digital Copyright. I want to be one of the smart people too!
  • The money-machine that is Disneyland: yep, absolutely, undoubtedly, inarguable, incontrovertibly, holly-molly.
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