Saturday, July 11th
I remember my first ALA Annual in 2007 at Washington D.C. — I went through the Exhibits in a daze, having no idea what I should be doing or looking at and consequently left within about an hour, no freebies in hand.
Then at the last Midwinter (Denver) a friend gave me the low-down on Exhibits: see a pile of books? They’re *probably* free, especially if they say “Advance Reader’s Copy” on the cover. Voila, I suddenly had my arms full in just minutes.
This year I grabbed not only books, but bags, too and immediately took advantage of the ALA Post Office to ship my heavy load back home without even taking it out of the convention center. Bliss. Now I have all sorts of interesting, fluffy / serious, free books to read as soon as my last graduate class is over!
Later in the day when I caught up with the Chinese group, a few of them said they got several vendor demos in the Exhibits. Something for everyone. 🙂
In the afternoon, I went to a session called America’s War on Sex — which was *packed!* And kept getting even more people! The speaker, Marty Klein, was terrific as a presenter – animated, enthusiastic, funny – but the content sometimes seemed to be too much “preaching to the choir”, with a big assumption that we were all liberal, left-wingers. And maybe we were. But there was just enough “us and them” kind of rhetoric to make me wish for a bit more balanced approach to the topic.
The topic centered around the fear-mongering about sexuality so popular in our culture. He talked about the “illusion of the threatening sexual other” and made two major points: 1) the illusion is partly built on lumping sex and violence together when they are actually separate; sex is consensual, violence is not, and 2) exaggerating statistics of violence to make it seem scarier.
One of my favorite quotes from his presentation was “Sexuality is one of the last human rights to enjoy the American Revolution”.
After this session of “rah, rah, rah!” I grabbed a bite to eat and headed over to the Opening Session, mainly because I heard the Gay Men’s Choir would be performing. I had no idea who the speaker would be. Well, it was Christie Hefner, former CEO of Playboy. In many ways, Christie’s talk was much like Marty’s — the emphasis on freedom of expression, the First Amendment, the role of libraries to protect our right to expression.
But I have to admit – I have very conflicted views of Playboy. On one hand, I think women should feel good about being beautiful and sexy but on the other hand, I think Playboy’s presentation of “beautiful” and “sexy” is so freaking narrow it does more of a disservice to women than a help. So I wasn’t sure what to think of her talk and I’m still not. I find it extremely ironic that I was attending these kinds of sessions while the ALA Secrets tweets were getting shut down.
After the Opening Session, I joined the Library Society of the World crowd at Giordano’s for pizza. Let’s just say… I have video. Mwah ha ha! 🙂
I read my copy of Codslap on the bus this morning and I have to say it is a sweet little publication – just like a love letter, as the intro says.