First time in Las Vegas and there’s much more to it than I expected. Okay, the airport had slots machines right at the gate as we arrived and many more in baggage claim, along with billboards for various shows and acts in Vegas. Flashy indeed! However, the desert local makes for an interesting juxtaposition of unmanned land, ritzy city, and Spanish mission homes of the Vegas locals. Plus, The Strip is only one portion and truly itself only at night when lit up with all kinds of visitors permeating the hotels, sidewalks, and streets. There’s also the old-school downtown area, fun areas off The Strip, and even a Chinatown, without even mentioning the surrounding nature and Hoover Dam nearby. The Convention Center, however, is like most and doesn’t boast the Vegas feel, which might be a good thing to help keep us all focused on the reason that we are all here: ALA Annual!
To kick off the conference, I attended the unconference session Friday morning from 9-noon. For someone who hasn’t been to one before, the event is casual and led by the attendees: there’s a call for and vote on topics for discussion then people sit at the table with the topic that interests them. “How to talk about eBooks” was the one for me, which should surprise no one. The best part about our table was the fact there were public, school, and academic librarians all sharing their perspectives and insights based on their environments. eBook complexities have even more complications depending on the type of library as well as the user group. And apparently middle schoolers still prefer print over electronic–go figure! Another aspect of unconferences is each topic reporting out on their main points and pithy moments, so look for #alaunconf (or some Tweets might be #alauncon; always search the other possible versions like a good librarian). Other topics ranged from promoting digital collections to managing library staff to work burnout to middle schoolers and library social media.
Anyone who is keeping up with #alaac14 on Twitter knows the basics about Annual in Vegas this year: glitz and glam, booze and gambling, starstruck and sunstroke. Yes, it’s sunny and hot–beautiful weather. However, it is hotter than you think. More than any other ALA location, drinking water is crucial and in higher quantities than you typically do. The lack of humidity is drying out my hands and my hotel doesn’t provide hand lotion but I remembered Chapstick thankfully.
Pro tip: take the shuttles to and from the Convention Center. Walking even a short distance in this hot weather is too much, trust me. Locals even carry umbrellas for shade but even then take the shuttles or a cab. Plus many hotels have their own shuttles to The Strip or other Las Vegas areas if they are owned by the same property. Springhill suites shuttle driver told me that Caesar’s (Bally’s, Harrah’s) has shuttles that go to the Rio.
Also, if you have the time, get out to Red Rock for the 13 mile drive through nature’s desert beauty. Hiking might not be possible since it’s even hotter than Thursday when I went but the drive, though, is worth it and there’s a visitor center.