Here are some of my totally unscientific observations about the recent American Library Association conference in New Orleans. You may refute them with comments.
1. Casual dress is way up. I saw very few suits among the attendees. Some vendors were still in suits, but many of them now seem to be in matching shirts with corporate logos. Many librarians were in shorts and T-shirts or Hawaiian shirts or sundresses. Being in hot, humid New Orleans, the trend was very reasonable and to be expected.
2. Walking shoes were way up. The length of the Morial Convention Center was almost two thirds of a mile, longer than the walk from many of the hotels. Comfortable shoes were necessary.
3. Bus service was really good. I got from the conference center to conference hotels and back really quickly. I was never passed up by a loaded bus. I never waited very long at a stop.
4. Touring the conference city was way up. This may be a special case because librarians wanted to see how New Orleans was recovering or not recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Many people took tours or volunteered for rebuilding projects.
5. I saw more young librarians. A few years ago I was worried because most of the attendees at conferences seemed to be my age or older. I think the shift has finally come.
6. PowerPoints were down. I went to three programs with no PowerPoint presentation at all. Only one program that I attended was totally PowerPoint driven.
7. Handouts were down. Few programs had any handouts at all other than evaluation forms. People seemed to take their notes on the backs of the evaluation forms. I had many people ask me, "Were there handouts?"
8. Book signings were up. I saw lots of lines inside the exhibit hall and after the big presentations given by famous people.
9. Digital cameras were up. I saw librarians taking photos at programs and around the city. Many can be found at ALA2006 Flickr Group website. Other photos can be found by searching ALA2006 in Flickr.
10. Blogging was up. There was even a room set aside for bloggers. Blogs about the conference can be found at the conference wiki. Go to Conference Bloggers to see who was writing. An alphabetic list of conference reports is started at Stories, Reports. The latter needs more input. If you wrote or know of conference reports, add them in.
I heard many librarians say they had a wonderful experience in New Orleans. Will this continue next year in Washington, D.C.? It will if we make it so.