Tuesday, September 04, 2007

By Their Tote Bags Shall Ye Know Them

Or, Impressions of Chicago, SAA 2007.

Shuttling in from O'Hare, admiring the architecture in downtown Chicago, and not paying attention to the street names, when I see it. Black, lumpy, with that unmistakable logo on it. Then, another one! And again, and then a DC 2006 one! Tote bags! We must be near the hotel, even though the van's windows are closed and I can't smell any Mylar; sure enough 2 minutes later we're pulling in to the hotel cul-de-sac. I hop out, wait for my luggage, rummage through my pockets, and hand the driver some bills. I fleetingly hope I didn't give him $60 but feel it would be uncool to stop and check...In the hotel, a two-hour wait for my room...Registration, and--what is this? A rucksack? Suddenly I feel the need to speak German and sleep in a hostel...Dinner at Navy Pier, next to the "McDonalds of the Future," truly a scary, scary thing.

A rousing Plenary Session, thanks in no small part to the presidential intro by Bruce Bruemmer. More laughs in one speech than a whole season of 'Two and a Half Men'...Morning session: "Open Source Software Solutions for Collection Management and Web Delivery." Interesting, and gives me more websites and products to check out...The afternoon brings a visit to the Chicago Art Institute, where I spend a delightful 2+ hours. Edward Hopper's 'Nighthawks' is out on loan, causing me to weep uncontrollably, and somehow I missed the Van Gogh room...First afternoon session "MP-LP Comes Home to Roost: Applying the Greene-Meissner Recommendations Broadly Across an Institution," featuring nearly every professional from the state of Minnesota...Dinner at My Thai on Michigan, where our waiter is a gas -- when he brings our food, he stands at the end of the table and deadpans "Curry chicken, curry chicken, curry chicken" until someone raises their hand. For every order. And he refuses to split our check more than two ways. I hope I got that receipt...The day ends with the "Archives and the Movies" thrill-a-rama, in which Hollywood shows its love for our glorious profession. Seriously, Leith Johnson deserves kudos, or at least a massive pay raise, for getting a room full of serious-minded archivists to laugh at his archival jokes ("Those vampires sure know encapsulation."). Miss it next year at your peril.

Morning spent at the College and University Section meeting...The afternoon session on "Rethinking Access and Description" sparked (provoked?) some interesting discussion, as those who saw it will agree. At least no one rushed the stage, and no shots were fired...After that, the session "More Product, Less Privacy? Applying Minimal Processing with an Awareness of Sensitive, Confidential, or Restricted Collection Materials" is a tame affair...That night, the event the whole conference leads up to: The All-Attendee Reception...Great food, great company, and: quarter-mile long food lines, $10 drink bands (mmm...Miller Light), rapidly disappearing desserts, hidden bathrooms, and piles of rowdy archivists. Met seemingly the entire DC archival blogosphere, including Order From Chaos (aka Stroller Guy), Friends Told Me I Needed a Blog, Archives Next, and non-bloggers NJM and C in DC. I was truly humbled...Wrapped up with dinner at Russian Tea Time, where we drew another cranky waiter -- when asked to split the check, he replied "You no say this at the beginning," then stalked off. I think we were all overcharged.

Leaving early, so only time for soccer on the tube (Tottenham v. Fulham), and a quick walk to Millenium Park, which ends early when I find I have just 1 picture left on my camera...O'Hare proves less daunting than projected, except I go through security twice by mistake (don't ask)...Finally it's back to Maine, where we're given free lobsters, moose meat, and Whoopie Pies upon landing.

See you next year, San Francisco!

Finally, some (estimated) stats from this year's meeting:

attendance -- 1700

# of Starbucks cups spotted at sessions -- 5789

# of college degrees in attendance -- 4075
amt. of outstanding student loans -- $61.6 million

# of sessions -- 64
# of sessions mentioning Meissner-Greene -- 64

# of exhibitors -- 70
# whose products you hate -- 29

% of attendees from NARA -- 33
% of attendees from Harvard -- 33

amt. of The Glenlivet imbibed in hotel rooms -- 207 gallons

# of naps among audience at sessions -- 199
# of naps among presenters -- 12

former co-workers met -- 10
former co-workers whose names I forgot -- 2

# of times I talked about lobsters -- 2
# of times I talked about snow -- 37

Pics are forthcoming...