A Conference Room of One’s Own: Or, No Room at the Convention Center


B.Frank says “DENIED!”

To mangle Pascal, all committee members’ miseries derive from not being able to book a room and vote on titles during ALA Midwinter.

Here’s the e-mail trainwreck that crashed into my inbox a few days ago:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Madame Chairwoman
Date: Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 1:57 PM
Subject: Thursday Meeting
To:  The RLC

I just got really bad news and wanted to consult with the group before we decide what to do about it. (Read from bottom)

It looks like we will not have a discussion room on Thursday. We simply cannot do without that day of discussion unless we want to do 12 hour days on Friday and Saturday. Does anyone have a friend in Philadelphia that might be able to help us arrange space at a library, or at the very least, have suggestions for a place we can meet besides my hotel room?

Madame Chairwoman


Hi Madame Chairwoman

I called up to Conf. Svcs. for more information and in the past, each year Gopher has been lucky to find a room that could accommodate Thursday meetings (Thursday and Tuesday sessions are always contracted out). Unfortunately this year the city of Philadelphia is buzzing with other happenings at the same time, so Gopher has been unable to find anyone willing to accommodate the session.

Is there an alternative you would prefer? I’m sorry, I know this is a big day for RL deliberation, but it just can’t happen this year. The same thing happened to our Smart Investing Training sessions.

Please let me know what you think. Thanks.




From: Madame Chairwoman
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2013 11:17 AM
To: Minion
Subject: RE: Your Proposed Meeting Information – 2014 Midwinter Meeting

Oh dear. We have always scheduled those with ALA. Is this the first year they aren’t doing them?

Madame Chairwoman

From: Minion
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2013 10:48 AM
To: Madame Chairwoman
Subject: FW: Your Proposed Meeting Information – 2014 Midwinter Meeting
Importance: High

Hi Madame Chairwoman,

Unfortunately Thursday meeting sessions are not available. Would you like to cancel your Thursday Reading List Session? I can always schedule you for an Adobe Connect Session OR you can “unofficially meet” at someone’s hotel. Please let me know what you would like to do ASAP.



So, long story short, my committee does not have a room for our Thursday night meeting. ALA-RUSA was not able to book a conference room, nor do they have any suggestions besides “uh…cancel your meeting, maybe?”

Also, Madame Chairwoman adds:

Just got the word from ALA. No financial help for a meeting room space. We are on our own. It would be better than nothing. I do think we need to get as much done on the front end as possible this year so everyone needs to be ready to vote books on or off the island during January.

So that’s where we stand right now. We have to locate an available conference room of any description in Philadelphia on January 24, 2014 beginning at 3pm. Oh, and we have to pay for it ourselves* because apparently all those dues we’ve been forking over? Don’t cover things like ALA doing it’s f*cking job with respect to its standing committees. *sigh* The More You Know.

This organization is officially the worst, and I deeply regret joining.

However, since it’s too late to quit…does anyone have a lead on a venue, broadly defined?

I’ve already suggested the Walk-Through Heart at the Franklin Institute, but the museum closes at 5pm, which is no good. I suppose we *could* go all Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and just camp out overnight in one of Philadelphia’s many fine museums, but while I’d personally love to sit atop a pile of books while surrounded by creepy dioramas in the Academy of Natural Sciences**, I’ll be the first to admit that this is probably not a workable plan. (The Mutter Museum on the other hand…)

Here’s what we’re aiming for:

A conference room with a table and chairs  — although, realistically, both table and chairs are more of a nice-to-have. In fact, we shall more than happily accept four contiguous walls, a floor, and a ceiling in any configuration. Escher? Escher?

We would prefer NOT to meet in the apartment of a Craigslist killer, but are willing to negotiate.

We cannot pay much, but we are polite and well-behaved. We are prone to passionate debates about the merits the books we discuss, but I can attest that in my three years on this committee we have never once come to blows over the inclusion or exclusion of a title on our shortlist.

*with our extravagant librarian salaries, naturally. Because the vast majority of us work in underfunded public libraries, have not seen a pay raise since 2008, and by the way DO THIS WHOLE COMMITTEE THING FOR FREE. That’s right, we volunteer our time because we believe in selecting and promoting the best genre fiction for adults. I thought that our commitment to books, readers, and libraries made us awesome, but it’s entirely possible that it merely makes us idiots.
**Just like I did during my childhood!
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One thought on “A Conference Room of One’s Own: Or, No Room at the Convention Center

  1. JennyOH says:

    I would NOT want to be in the Mutter after dark *shudder*. The baby with the giant butt-tumor and its beseeching eyes is just too much. Or the conjoined-twins-liver floating in a tank. Or or or. Love that place but it is a horror story in museum form.

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