ALA Annual is coming on the heels of (and sort of overlapping with) our most recent program at work with a delightful group of Chinese public library directors.  I rode the train into Chicago yesterday with them and what seemed like half the librarians in Champaign-Urbana.  It was fabulous!  I think almost our whole car was librarians and I had great conversations with colleagues.

Yesterday afternoon was spent in Chinatown where we saw the Chinatown branch of Chicago Public Library and had a nice big Chinese dinner at House of Fortune.  I had the wonderful sensation of feeling like I was in China — Chinese jokes flying around me from all directions and Chinese food all over the table.  I was delighted to find I could recoginze a few of the characters in the big calligraphy poems hanging around the restaurant.  Just a very few.  I wondered if this is how we start reading as kids — we see a word here and there that looks familiar (“cat” “mom”) and the rest looks like jibberish.  However, I haven’t connected the sound to the characters yet, only vague meanings.

This morning we all took the very first conference shuttle to McCormick and everyone was registered in mere minutes!!  It was amazing!  I was so happy.  They ran off to their pre-conference and I went to the Emerging Leaders session.  The most interesting part of the day for me was when we broke into small groups of 3 to each talk about one specific goal we had for the next couple months.  My little group of 3 had excellent recommendations and suggestions for each other.

Then followed the poster session and it was nice to see what the other teams had been working on.  It was also surprising to hear that our  experience with our supportive, responsive mentors was not the norm across all teams.  We also had one of the few tangible projects — many teams were doing research or surveys or maybe a website.  Our team had to get a commemorative booklet ready for the printers by June 1st.  Done.  If you’re going to the International Librarians Reception on Monday night, you might even get a copy.  🙂

After Emerging Leaders was over, I went over to the International Librarians Orientation to check on my Chinese library directors.  Lo and behold two of them won door prizes!  And our Fulbright Fellow from Japan won a prize, too!

Tomorrow morning bright and early I will go with them to the Exhibits Opening.  I’m not exactly sure how many options they have, as far as vendors go so this might be interesting.  Good night, all, and good conference!