Monday, October 23, 2006

JCLC Conference Notes: Before I got there and reception.

(Date of event: October 11, 2006)

I made it to Dallas to attend the First Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, which ran from October 11 to October 15, 2006. Due to some small personal details I needed to take care of at home, I had a bit of a late start, and I drove myself there. Not that I mind the driving since it means that I can pull over if anything on the road catches my eye. Sure enough, driving along Interstate 45, in Huntsville, there is the Texas Prison Museum. Yes, you read that right, there is a prison museum in Texas. Then again, given the tough reputation Texans have when it comes to corrections, I am not really surprised there is a place dedicated to the history of their penal institutions. So, in true gypsy librarian spirit, I pulled off the road and made a stop to have a look at this. Actually, the place is worth the price of admission. It is very interesting, and within an hour, you have learned a few things about prisons in Texas. You also get to see "Old Sparky" (the electric chair), and you can even get your picture taken in a replica cell wearing one of the old striped prison uniforms. No, I did not spring for the photo, but I did buy a small postcard, which goes into my journal with a brief note. The exhibits include themes such as inmate art, infamous criminals, prison hardware, and the prison rodeos. Your four bucks for admission also include a video documentary to put it all in context, which the volunteer lady was more than happy to turn on for me when I came in. And by the way, as the website notes, "Huntsville's prison museum is frequented by a cross-section of the public, ranging from grade-school students on field trips, to tourists from around the world." I can attest to that as there were some tourists visiting at the time, probably Australian (I think they made some reference to being from down under), all amazed by the various weapons the prisoners have made over time and at how tough Texans seemed to be.

Eventually, I got back on the road, and I made it to Dallas in the early evening. I got to the reception a bit late, but it was all ok. It took place in the main branch of the Dallas Public Library, a very nice building. The way the reception was set is that the caucuses had smaller receptions with performances and food, so you could get soul food on the first floor, some Asian on the fourth floor, and some Latino on the 7th (or was it the 6th? I remembered them back then, but hey, it's been a week by now). Personally, the Latino reception was the most fun for me, but then again, you get a bunch of rowdy Latinos in a room, play some music, and it gets loud. My kind of people. Especially when you see librarians who would never take a dance step otherwise at least take a stab at showing some rhythm. Overall, a good time was had by all. If all the library conferences I hear about started like this, I would attend every one of them. I am definitely coming back, and I have not even been to the first session yet. It was not just the fun; there was a certain warmth and sense of welcoming in the air that I have not seen in other academic conferences I have attended. I managed to catch up with my Assistant Director at the reception. Note to self: teach her a few more dance steps. By the way, the food was excellent, and yes, I pretty much ate my way up the building. I also saw the library's Shakespeare first folio and their copy of the Declaration of Independence.


Mark said...

Sounds like a nice start :)

Welcome back. I'm soooo looking forward to Austin in a few weeks!

Angel, librarian and educator said...

It was a very nice start. The hospitality of the library as well as the conference overall was excellent. It did not feel like a huge conference, and that for me did it as well (I tend to like smaller events). I hope you have a great time in Austin. Best, and keep on blogging.