Reference Renaissance

I attended the Reference Renaissance conference in Denver this week, and got back late Wednesday night. In case anyone is ever thinking of flying with me, don’t. It’s pretty much a guarantee that your bags will get lost, or the flight will be horribly delayed, or there’ll be bad storms, or they won’t have any food you can eat (even for sale), or the plane will develop engine trouble just after takeoff and will have to fly in circles for two hours to burn off enough fuel to land again back at the same airport. It’s no wonder I don’t like to travel anywhere if it means flying. When it comes to flying, I seem to have some bad hoodoo.

However, the Reference Renaissance conference was pretty good. I went to a few informative sessions, learned a bit I didn’t know before, met some nice folks. I’m something of an introvert, and typically don’t feel comfortable around people I don’t know, but I got invited to a lunch with several librarians I didn’t know and enjoyed myself. The only drawback to the conference was that the hotel was about 10 miles from downtown, but I did make it in one night for some excellent seafood (I know, in Denver of all places) and at a martini bar had a drink called a Dean Martini, served in an ashtray with a candy cigarette. I know what you’re thinking. Classy!

I gave a presentation I’m tentatively calling “The Iron Cage of Google,” which isn’t the title on the program. The problem was that I didn’t know specifically what I was going to talk about until the week before I left. Titles are arbitrary, anyway. The presentation seemed to go well. I planned it as infotainment, and I think some people learned about at least a couple of things they didn’t know about, plus the laughs came in all the right places. My Second Life joke went over particularly well, so I’m going to have to try to work that one into another presentation sometime. The room was full, but I suspect the audience came to see the practical stuff after me. I’m never sure why anyone comes to any of my presentations. They just seem so obvious. I wouldn’t go. I already know all that stuff.

One of the best things logistically about the conference was the strict time-keeping. I’d had a discussion with the chief planner after I was accepted to speak about time-keeping. (I know her, so I didn’t feel bad about being blunt.) We discussed how annoying it is to have people go over time and then leave other people without enough. I’ve been burned by that before. So she made me the chair of my own panel, as well as another one, plus made cards reading 5, 2, and 0, to be flashed by the chair when the speaker had 5 minutes left, etc. When the 0 card was flashed, the speaker had one sentence to conclude, and then had to stop. All the presentations I saw were timed well, and I didn’t have to use my 0 card at all when I was chairing.

All in all, it was a very practical conference with a lot of engaged speakers. I hope they put it on again next year, preferably somewhere I can travel by train.

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