Monday, June 27, 2011

Four Times Around the Library World

The New Orleans Convention Center is sandwiched between the warehouse district and some railroad tracks, and as a result, it's a kilometer long, end to end. This past weekend, it has hosted the American Library Association Annual Meeting. I've walked the length of the convention center about 10 times over the past 4 days. It's another kilometer from my hotel to it's near end, so add another 8 km to my total. Bourbon Street is 1.3 km down and back; so add 3 km there. There were 2.5 km of exhibits on the show floor at ALA; I make it a point to look at every one, at least briefly. So my ALA pedometer racked up about 25 km (over 15 miles, for the metrically challenged).

It's not over yet, but the ALA conference twitter feed says this week's attendance is over 20,000, including exhibitors. (Update: the final totals are 14,969 attendees and 5,217 exhibitors.) Their mileage may vary, but my estimate is that on average, an ALA attendee walked about 5 miles in total. So the grand total of walking at ALA should be about 160,000 km. That's 4 times the circumference of the earth.

All that walking is good for us. I replenished many of those calories at Cochon, where I hosted some lunches to tell librarians about Gluejar. But the Buttermilk Pecan Tart I had on Friday was worth the whole trip to New Orleans. The pleasure capital of Louisiana has moved a mile south as far as I'm concerned!

Cochon brought back memories of 5 years ago, when ALA was the first big convention to come to ALA after Hurricane Katrina. Cochon had opened just a week before, and I raved to friends after having oven-roasted oysters there. By the end of ALA 2006, the place was packed.

The meeting five years ago was a special one; the city was far from having being repaired or rebuilt, and many workers had been bussed in and bunked in temporary housing just so we could come. Everyone was just so happy to see us, it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. In New Orleans they still remember the weekend that librarians brought the city of New Orleans back to life.

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