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December 03, 2003

Wireless at ALA Midwinter

... I wish. Liz Lawley commented at Internet Librarian that wireless access for attendees is now matter of course for most of the conferences she attends (as a professor at RIT who has "crossed over" from librarianship). Not so for ALA. We don't request it as a conference service, we don't push it as a benefit (even if we had to pay for it), and as members, we don't demand it.

This points to our chronic time-lag with technological innovations, and begs some larger, more pointed questions about who we are as a profession. Can we really be "information professionals" if we are chronically four to ten years behind the rest of the world?

(Note: I did contact the San Diego conference center about wireless, hoping against hope. If I read the message correctly, it's $25 a day and may be limited in range to the exhibit floor. Our state conference, in Ontario California, didn't offer wireless at all, and I think I'm the only one who missed it. But on the bright side: I once thought that when I returned to California I would be overwhelmed by the vast technical sophistication of the library community, but it turns out that's one less thing I have to worry about!)

Posted by kgs at December 3, 2003 06:05 PM

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An excellent point. Although it is probably too late to do anything about changing wireless accessibility in San Diego, perhaps there would be something to be gained by lobbying for wireless in Orlando and beyond. The ALA conference services people probably consider this an administrative nightmare, but others do it, so why not us?

Posted by: Frederick Emrich at December 4, 2003 08:31 AM

Even some Councilors have expressed interest in it. The catch is to figure out who to persuade.

Posted by: K. G. Schneider at December 4, 2003 11:01 AM

I will talk up the idea with people I know through OITP. People who write library weblogs might be strong grassroots advocates. Though it's clear those things alone won't do it, they might contribute. If anyone else has ideas, those might help also.

Posted by: Frederick Emrich at December 4, 2003 11:23 AM


I'm going to take a moment and be a little snide and say "So write a resolution to ask the Executive Director to institute it on a cost recovery basis for Annual and Midwinter Conferences begining with the Annual Conference in Orlando."

Since my not-so-new laptop has wireless built in, I do not think it is an unreasonable request, and I am with you on it. Especially since I'll be away from the office for a week!

Michael Golrick (ALA Executive Board)

Posted by: Michael Golrick at December 5, 2003 01:28 PM

Oh, all right, I will do that. However, I reserve the right to whine, "but why do *I* always have to push the technical stuff?" After all, it would have a lot more clout if the resolution came from someone who thought 802.11 was a British rock band. And I did bring this up on Council, right after Annual. Remember? Something was supposed to "happen," in a nice, resolution-frei environment.

Posted by: K. G. Schneider at December 5, 2003 06:14 PM

Well...just a wacky suggestion, but is there going to be _wired_ internet access on the floor? If so, is it on a bandwidth charge basis, or is it all you can eat? I'm sure SOMEONE out there has a wireless router or three they can bring with them to the conference. Boom! Instant access.

I had planned on looking for a map of hotspots in San Diego before the con..I'm sure there are plenty of open hotspots.

Posted by: Jason at December 8, 2003 08:24 PM

Karen - I agree. Liz lawley really rocked my world when she asked who had their laptops. At a debrief back at SJCPL, I asked the room full of Heads and Admin who was unwired...three out 26 had their PowerBooks! Since that "shaming" as a colleague called it, the more progressive heads have meetings with laptop, airport nearby and a ton of resources out there...



Posted by: Michael Stephens at December 13, 2003 06:13 AM