ASSOCIATES (vol. 8 no. 1, July 2001) -

One is Just Like Another...


Linda Owen
Library Assistant
University of California, Riverside

I once overheard a coworker make a comment to the effect that, "one conference is just like another and the programs are all the same." Well, I can truthfully say that was not true of this summer's Council on Library Media Technicians Conference (COLT) or of the American Library Association (ALA) Conference. Both the COLT conference and the ALA conference offered plenty of opportunity for learning and sharing. Both conferences were held in San Francisco, a city that beckons one to play. Despite that, programs were packed with people eager to learn more about their profession. Both the COLT and ALA conferences offered plenty of opportunity for learning and sharing.

The COLT conference was held June 13-15. The theme "Library Support Staff: Still Moving in the Right Direction" was designed to enable library support staff to explore the roles that they play in contemporary libraries and for them to engage in activities that enhance their current skills and build new ones. Keynote speaker Frank D'Andraia, Dean of the University of Montana, Missoula libraries, opened the conference by speaking to the changes in information transfer and the effects they would have on the profession with an accompanying need for library workers to keep skills honed and current. He emphasized the many paths that library workers may find themselves taking. Cindy Mediavilla, President of the California Library Association closed the conference with her speech on Leadership with an emphasis on the importance of recognizing and using leadership opportunities in our everyday work lives.

Between these two speeches were programs that reviewed every day library skills, examined professional opportunities, revealed technological changes important to library workers or simply shared information about new and innovative library networks. Additionally, there was a program that taught us how to cope with the stress of library work and another that provided insights into the life of mystery authors and their literary sleuths. A brief overview of these programs can be found on the COLT home page,

The speakers at the COLT conference were librarians, paraprofessionals, archivists and educators. They all had one thing in common: information or experiences that they were willing to share with their library colleagues. Some of what was said was controversial and some was technical. Some was humorous and some was thought-provoking. Some was a mixture of all of the
above. All were well received by an interested and appreciative audience.

In addition to the conference programs, there was time for networking with professional colleagues at lunch and at the welcome reception. COLT business was discussed at the Executive Board meeting and at the General Membership meeting. Additionally, library educators and other interested persons gathered for the first COLT ThinkTank 20 on Library Technology Education. Social programs rounded out the full schedule of events.

The American Library Association was held from June 14-20. The exhibit area provided an opportunity for participants to meet the many vendors who provide service to the library community. Representatives from the large network providers demonstrated the latest emulation of their systems. The companies that provide supplies and furniture were there, displaying their wares. Of course there were publishers, serials vendors, non-book retailers and distributors of all of the items we load on our library shelves and databases. There were over 1600 exhibitors demonstrating their wares with many providing samples or product name reminders for passers by. Many COLT conference participants attended the exhibits using passes provided by Library Mosaics.

The ALA conference offered over 2000 programs and meetings on a vast variety of topics. Programs were arranged along thematic tracts with sub-themes that helped identify programs, meetings and exhibits with common elements. The thematic tracts were Leadership, Information Services, Digital Library, Children and Youth, Advocacy, Information Access and
Issues & Updates. Additional special events and general programs rounded out an invigorating conference experience.

This year's COLT and ALA conferences are over, but the planning has already begun for next year's events to be held in June in Atlanta, Georgia. Information about this year's conferences and plans for future conferences (when available) can be found on the COLT Home Page,, and the ALA Home Page

Go Back ArrowReturn to Top of Page

About Us | Subscribe | Editors | Submit | Current Issue | Archives | Links | Survey | Home