Last weekend I attended my first professional librarian conference. It was the California Library Association’s 110th annual conference. I was planning start Friday afternoon with a visit to Adobe System, but I missed the deadline for signing up for that. Considering that on that day the only other program was the opening of the exhibition, which I was planning to check later and a gala dinner that I was not planning to attend I opted to start Saturday morning instead.
So I got up at five and started to drive from Santa Rosa to San Jose well before 6 AM. According to an email from the organizers the busiest period at the check-in table is usually Saturday morning. I wanted to beat the crowd, that’s why I went so early. I got to San Jose by 7:45 and although I even got lost a little bit after exiting the freeway I was in the convention center by 8. I was about the third conference attendee, so my goal to avoid staying in line was accomplished. I sat down in the room where the opening general session started an hour later. At 8 there were only 2 other people there besides some ushers, but by the real starting time the room was overflowing.
I estimate that there were between 1100 and 1400 people in the room. It was a weirdly titillating feeling. I haven’t been in the midst big crowds in the last few years. It reminded me how I felt at my first arena show (watching The Queen in 1985 with 50,000 people), at a huge political protest (being with over a million people in 1987 in East Berlin) at a school ceremony (my wife’s graduation at UCSB.) But here almost everybody was a librarian. I felt professional pride and personal curiosity at the diversity of the group. I could not avoid noticing though that only about every 15th-20th person was male.