For the last week, I have receiving emails and flyers urging me to attend Libraries in Hard Times at Saturday's ALA Membership Meeting. The marketing was well done, so my hopes were raised that it would be an interesting program. It was, but not really in the way that I expected. Patricia Wong summarized efforts of California Public Libraries to help the jobless and needy. Christopher A. McLean of the ALA Washington Office then reported on the federal government's stimulus package and what parts of it hold promise for library funding. The information was good (if a bit too general) but the setting and presentations and the timing did not do the subjects justice. The assembly hall was huge and the attendance slight. It was late in the day. We were very far from the speakers. I expected first hand stories from librarians telling what they are up against and what they are doing. I appreciate that the topic is being acknowledged before the assembly of membership, but it needs more coverage and debate in more intimate meetings where there will be more energy and passion.
On the up side, there were some useful web sites promoted, including Advocating in a Tough Economy Toolkit for the ALA President's Office. Another was the Library Use Value Calculator from Huntington beach Public Library.