Misadventures at CLA – Day Four (Saturday)

Just back from the CLA conference (it officially ended up Saturday but we stayed an extra day to do some sightseeing and so we'd have a full day to drive home instead of rushing on Saturday.)  Turns out this was a wise decision as I'll explain later…

Saturday, I was again up very early and over to an 8am session by Toni Samek on Intellectual Freedom issues and their relevance in library schools.  After that, I finally went to be a tourist with Shea, taking the van for a cruise around the city (tried to stop to say 'hi' to fellow Westerner Stephen Harper but he was apparently in Edmonton cheering on the Oilers) then went to the War Museum which was okay but not great. 

We had lunch in Byward Market (Chris Dixon sent me a great suggestion for a restaurant but it was closed for lunch on Saturdays!) then went back to The Westin in time for the AGM which, contrary to the popular opinion, was very interesting and yes, even exciting in parts!  After years of non-profit AGM's which tend to be very informal with a lot of “uhm, do we vote now?  No, I think we do discussion then the amendment then call the question.  Er, or that but the other way”, being at an AGM with a parlimentarian to guide the proceedings, a PowerPoint to follow as we moved through the agenda as well as to display a Word document with bylaws and resolutions so we could all see amendments as they were made – was pretty cool. 

Not sure whether I should be happy or embarrassed (probably the latter) that a few of my comments were paraphrased into the remarks of one of the speakers during the debate about a resolution to change the membership options slightly.  The resolution on the floor was that members shouldn't just get to pick one free division as happens now (the five divisions being public, academic, special, school libraries as well as one for trustees) but that they should also get the option of one division (for more established librarians or new librarians who know what they're interested in) or two interest groups (which are perhaps of more relevance to newer librarians, students and established librarians who don't fit in any of the five divisions – information technology librarians or librarian technicians for example.)  A compromise was proposed that it would be better to say “one division AND one special interest group free” rather than still making people choose. 

How Shea and I came into all of this was that there was a lot of debate about how much this change would cost the CLA ($6000-$30000 was their quickie-math prediction although I'm not sure I agree with how they arrived at these figures as they were using the “Every person who downloads a Britney Spears album for free would've otherwise bought it” technique so popular with the RIAA.)  Someone I'd talked to at the pub crawl got up to say how important it was to make this change to support students – including some students who couldn't afford to pay the reduced conference fee let alone pay $15 for interest groups.  She then went on to say that “some students including one who won the Spirit Award at UWO is here today but he couldn't even bring his wife to the opening keynote because of the cost of tickets for non-delegates on top of the costs he'd already incurred to attend the conference” (a slight exaggeration but the principle of the thing is definitely true.  It's pretty outrageous to me that in an organization dedicated to removing barriers to access, students who often have $0 income, pay their own registration, meals, accommodation and travel costs while working librarians who are likely in a better position to afford the related costs to attend the conference (even though their registration fee is higher.)  This is also assuming that their attendance isn't covered by their employer as it was for many of the librarians I spoke with.  My classmate, Alex Homanchuk puts it a bit more succinctly in his blog post entitled “Fuck The CLA!”) 

I actually went to the conference with the intention of making a resolution that students shouldn't have to pay a conference registration fee (for the reasons I outlined above, for the fact that it's a gesture of goodwill to their newest members who will presumably soon be making $50 000-75 000/year and will be able to afford to attend the conference regularly, because the CLA web site misleadingly said “Complimentary” beside the student registration option.)  But I let myself get a bit overwhelmed and intimidated at the conference and though I told a few friendly faces my idea (fellow students, sympathetic librarians and profs), I never took the initiative to find an Executive Member and find out how to get this resolution on the agenda.  (I did bring the idea to the First Timers interest group on Thursday and they were very supportive but by this point, we'd missed the resolution approval meeting.)  Next year I guess… 

The President, Barbara Clubb, ended the AGM by inviting everyone who'd lasted until the end of the meeting to join her for the traditional reception at the President's Suite in the host hotel which “has more square footage than my house” according to her.   Walked back to the University and relaxed for awhile then went to the reception (Shea wasn't feeling well and stayed at the University residence unfortunately.)  The reception was great and I got to meet the past-President, current President, President-elect, Executive Director as well as many other long-time members of CLA.  Also got some great information for my Independent Study and a possible lead on a research project!  The setting was amazing – 23rd floor of the hotel with a gigantic wrap-around balcony with views of Parliament Hill, the American Embassy and pretty much all of the major attractions of Ottawa that are in the area.)  Finished the day by having a drink at a nearby pub with two librarians who both previously worked in the Saskatoon Public System and who were able to give me a lot of the insights you don't get from sitting at a conference with no beer in you. All of this is why I'm glad we stayed the extra night. 

I guess that's it for now.  I'm debating whether to just spend the next week of entries posting about various aspects of the conference since there was so much that I took from it.  I've blogged about how I always carry a notepad to jot down ideas, quotes, book titles and whatever else I might come across.  I usually fill up a page every few days but this week, I filled an entire notebook in four days! 

Oh, I also wanted to give a long-neglected Classmate of the Day award to Paul and Kelly who sent their impressions of the conference to our cohort's listserv after a request from Kerry about how it was and tagged on the prediction that I will be President of CLA someday.  I don't know about that – I've got to learn my Roberts Rules of Order a bit better first and be a lot less chicken about introducing resolutions – but thanks for the vote of confidence.  Paul, if you're reading this, feel free to post your report in the comments!

Comments 4

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    i had another thought about cla, money and students.
    i too took barbara up on her generous offer (i was so tired, i'm sure she was even more tired) to hang out in the presidental suite. i just called the westin and that room ranges costs about $374/night right now. i'm sure they got a discount with all the room bookings, but still…that's one way that the cla could save some money and thus make the conference a bit more affordable for all…

    Posted 20 Jun 2006 at 12:24 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Do you mean that they should ask for discounts for all the rooms or that they shouldn't pay for that expensive of a room and make the President go to a smaller one?
    I honestly thought that room would cost more than that so thanks for checking. My mom stays at Delta through her union work all the time so was able to get us a free suite at the Delta in Toronto recently. It was a plain-jane room with nothing extra and *it* would normally cost ~$375. I didn't think Toronto would be so out-of-whack with Ottawa but in that perspective, maybe the Westin room was actually a deal, especially if CLA got a discount on top of the regular price you were quoted. Some hotels would go so far as throwing in a free suite if a convention filled up their hotel so who knows? Might be something to e-mail Don Butcher or one of the staff members about – just out of curiosity.

    Posted 21 Jun 2006 at 6:00 am
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    if that huge room was close to $400 then a regular room would've cost about $150 (?). i reckon she stayed there for at least a week (with preconference meetings and seesions and post conference meetings). uh-oh, i'm going to go down the same math logic that happened at the AGM, 7*250=$1750, which in the grand scheme of a $200,000 profit from the conference isn't such a big deal. but it would've covered 100 student to attend the mega-expensive $18 head brekkie.
    i realize it was probably used as HQ for the conference, and that the space was used for emergency meetings, etc. but it does feel a little oppulant. especially considering that it is paid for by CLA members.
    ya know?

    Posted 21 Jun 2006 at 1:50 pm
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    I dealt a lot of contradictory feelings all week – someone mentioned at one session what a hero Andrew Carnegie is to librarians yet he made his money busting unions and being the worst kind of capitalist.
    I went to the War Museum as a tourist even as I was thinking – does this make me complicit in supporting our current war activities somehow and wondering “Why isn't there a Peace Museum?”
    When Michelle stopped at the bank machine after the Stephen & Avi Lewis keynote, I ended up talking to a homeless alcoholic and giving him a granola bar. But I still didn't give him any money.
    Even walking to the reception in the $350/night suite and passing by a guy sleeping under the stairs of the Radisson Parking Garage had me thinking “What the fuck am I doing and why am I going to this thing instead of helping him?”

    Posted 22 Jun 2006 at 6:31 am
%d bloggers like this: