I'm walking down a street on the edge of the French Quarter, and who do I meet but Montevallo's own Dennis Toney? He was also in town for a conference, but one that was overshadowed by ALA. I haven't seen any registration figures for this conference yet, but average attendance at the summer ALA conferene is usually well over 20,000. I know a lot of people decided to skip ALA this year because of what happened in New Orleans after Katrina, but I certainly saw a lot of activity down at the Convention Center today when I was there.
One thing that I"m happy to report is that the food in New Orleans is still wonderful. I don't think I've ever had a bad meal in New Orleans, and this trip is no exception. From crawfish etouffe at the Gumbo Shop to flan at La Mer, it's all been great. I'm going to have to do double-time in the SAC to work off this trip!
Tonight I met a number of other COPLAC librarians. We met together with the COPLAC administrators several years ago at the College of Charleston, and we've been trying to get together when we can ever since. We're talking about trying some cooperative intiatives, and also hoping to plan something together for ACRL in Baltimore next spring.
Tomorrow ALA begins in earnest, and I have a full schedule of meetings and programs. The highlight of the day should be getting to hear Madeleine Albright speak at the opening session. I'm also hoping to get to spend some time in the exhibits checking out some of the new, exciting products from our library vendors. And continuing to sample the great New Orleans food!
I met a young man tonight who came down here to voluteer after Katrina and who has now decided to make New Orleans his home. He's working as a bartender at the Bourbon House and thinking about going back to graduate school. For folks like him, New Orleans seems to be a place of opportunity. There are plenty of service-sector jobs available for those who want to be a part of rebuilding this most cosmopolitan, most American city.