Our last night in Jamaica, Michael, Mary and I went to an English Pub a bit down the road for a final dinner. We were joined by Loida Garcia-Febo, Tony Tallent, Carrie Gits (can’t find a blog for her – anyone else know where she can be found online?) and her husband. All were American presenters and we had fun discussing our experiences at the conference. I had the Nottingham Steak & Kidney Pie, since my boyfriend kept telling me to get it while I was in England and I never did. It was ok, but I’ve tried it, and I’ll not be ordering it again…
I got up at 4:30 the next morning and made it to the airport in plenty of time for my 7:25 flight – which, in true Island Time fashion – didn’t take off until 9:30. The rest of my travel home was on time and – mostly – worry free. We had to divert around to come into St. Louis from the west, because the southeast approach was closed due to weather and the descent was a bit rough, but I landed and got home safely!
The conference was great! One of the last sessions I attended was an informal meeting of the Academic SIG and there was a lot of discussion about Web 2.0 “stuff” as used in the Caribbean. The discussion about the differences in culture and in the way they do things, as opposed to the way us Americans do things, was eye-opening. They are starting to experiment with things like blogs and Learning 2.0, but the penetration of computers into the population is fairly low, so they aren’t focusing on those things like we do here in the states.
Overall, the people were friendly and welcoming to us American visitors – we all had a chance to really get to know some of the librarians who are working so hard in these countries to bring Internet access and books to their patrons. Between the conversations in the hallways (or outside in the coffee break area – that was where I hung out a lot!) and the videos from Eric & Jaap (you may have to be a Facebook user to see this video) giving us all a great view into the local libraries, there was a lot of learning going on, at least by me! I’ve always said that the best part of any conference is the “extra” networking that happens between sessions, and that held true for this one. It was a fabulous conference, with a bunch of great librarians who shared their cultures and their ideas with us!
Updated 6-13-08 Carrie left a comment with her blog address on it and I wanted to be sure that everyone knew that her name is now linked to her blog. The blog is at http://librarianandherblog.blogspot.com/ – go say hi to Carrie and give her some biblioblogsphere love!!
Oh goodness, where did I leave off? Yesterday, before my planned trip to Rose Hall Main House, I went back out onto the beach, where I laid out with a trashy beach-read novel in one hand and a margarita in the other. This, my friends, is how we are *supposed* to be living! I enjoyed it for a bit too long, however, and I ended up burning the bejeesus out of my legs. Oh well, it was worth it!!
After that a big thunderstorm rolled in and the Rose Hall tour was out. So I came back to my hotel room and relaxed on the balcony (without closing the door behind me…) and watched the storm roll by. After that was a quick trip down to the bar for a before dinner drink, or two. I made the mistake of getting the “special” of the night, a lethal concoction called the “Bam Bam”. It lived up to it’s name (Just about knocked me flat) – and it was the first drink of the trip served with a paper umbrella, so I had to snap a picture.
After dinner, I went to the talent show, which was great fun! Us Americans won a prize for being the loudest national group there. We were so proud.
After that, I came upstairs, called Mom, talked to Alex and then called in to the Uncontrolled Vocabulary show. It’s usually on while I’m putting Alex to bed, so I’d never called in before, but since I had the opportunity here…
This morning, I got up and went into Montego Bay proper after breakfast. I spent *way* too much money at a little craft fair thing (but folks are getting great souvenirs this time!) and then came back to the hotel in time to catch Erik & Jaap talk about their previous gaming in libraries tour and their current Shanachie Tour. It was an excellent show!
Now I’m getting ready to go to my last “official” session of the conference. Cliff & I agreed to sit in on an Academic SIG meeting and field questions from the members. It should be fun. After that I’ll be joining Michael and Mary for the Rose Hall tour, then possibly on to an English Pub just a bit down the street.
I’ll catch you all up later!
Today started off with Stephen Abrams giving a wonderful, as usual, speech about libraries and innovation and the future. I sat next to Cliff, who took notes as Stephen spoke, so I’ll let him give you the details on the talk. After that, I went to lay out for a bit on the beach, since it was beautifully sunny out and I got a bit more sun – as well as a nice lunch at the beach bar & grill.
After cleaning up, I went down to my conference room to get set up for my presentation. I was a bit early (since I’m still on US time, not Jamaican time) and Michael Sauers came by early as well to keep me company, since he figured people wouldn’t really start showing up until 10 minutes or so after 2 (the session was scheduled for 2pm). He was right, and we got started promptly at 2:15.
The room was seriously HOT (and not in a Michael Stephens way), so I pretty much sailed through my slides very, very quickly. I managed to do my 90 minute presentation in just under an hour, just so I could get out of there! The room was pretty much packed – almost all the chairs were taken, so there were probably 50 or so folks in this pretty small room. That didn’t help! After questions, including a great question on copyright issues with Amazon book jackets used in catalogs that I totally handed off to Mr. Sauers (and he loves me for it, I’m sure…), the session broke up. At that point, Erik & Jaap – who are in Jamaica filming for the LBI Shanachie Tour, asked me if they could interview me about library uses of mashups. Those of you who were at Internet Librarian last year might remember them. At this point I remembered that I hadn’t put on any makeup after cleaning up when I came back from the beach. Hopefully the slight sunburn I have will keep me from looking like a dead fish on camera… I’ve been following the exploits of these two talented filmmakers for a while, via the biblioblog circuit, and was thrilled to be included in their project!
Now, it’s stormy (and I have discovered a true love for sitting on my covered balcony, smoking and drinking my cranberry juice and watching a truly warm thunderstorm go by) and I’m glad I took the time this morning to get some sun. I’ll probably not be able to do much laying out until Wed, since I want to see the panel on copyright issues tomorrow morning and I’m back into the presentation room tomorrow afternoon (and I may be heading into Montego Bay proper with Michael and his wife before my song-and-dance). After my presentation is Cliff’s session on Info Overload – I definitely want to attend that one – and then the Jamaican cultural celebration is that night.
I’m here on my own – the library isn’t sending me – but I’m managing to get in as much library-related conference stuff as I do when they do pay my way. There is something wrong with that picture. I should be spending more time on the beach! Oh well, I wouldn’t be teaching others about this crazy Web 2.0 stuff if I didn’t love it myself, so I guess I’ll come back slightly less charbroiled and slightly more informed than I’d planned!
Today I shopped, then I laid on a lounge chair on the beach. That pretty much sums up my day.. I registered for the conference and cleared up the hotel room issue as well, but for the most part, I bummed around until about 6:30pm, when I attended the ACURIL opening ceremony. The ceremony part was nice – a presentation of the flags of the Carribbean nations, lots of welcoming from the various people who have worked hard to put this conference together and a speech from a representative of the Ministry of Tourism about how libraries assist in getting tourists to their destinations (with lots of facts and figures about the number of people who use the Internet to make or research travel arrangements). The real fun of the evening came with the Hatfield Folk & Cultural Group, though. They did some traditional folk songs, some drumming and some dancing. It was a really cool introduction to the Jamaican culture! We also heard the Mount Peace Mento Band do some Bob Marley tunes – which were real crowd pleasers!
After the ceremony was the reception. I sat (somewhat to the dismay of the ACURIL president, who wanted us to mingle) with most of the American presenters at the conference. Michael Sauers, Stephen Abrams and Cliff Landis – as well as Michael’s wife and a Jamaican librarian whose name I never did catch – sat around the table and discussed issues of librarianship and the sad, US-centric state of both the US and US librarians. As Stephen is a Canadian and we had a Jamaican at the table, the insights into how silly we Americans often look were enough to make us one of the loudest (laughing, not arguing) tables in the water park (where the reception was held).
Tomorrow is Stephen’s keynote speech (which I’m looking forward too – I always love hearing him speak!) and my Mashups presentation. I’ll blog about both of those tomorrow night – stay tuned!
I’ve finally made it to the lovely island of Jamaica – but the trip here wasn’t without it’s glitches. I got to my hotel room in St. Louis last night (plane took off for Miami this morning at 6:10 – I wasn’t driving all that way at 3am!) and realized I had *everything* – except my passport. So, I called my Dad (yep, I’m an adult) and had him meet me in Kingdom City (1/2 hour from JC, 1 hour from St. Louis airport) and bring it to me. By the time I got back to my room in St. Louis it was almost 11:30 and I went straight to bed.
I got up this morning at 4:15 and onto my plane to Miami without issue. Once I landed in Miami, I continued reading my book, “An Absolute Gentleman” until the very end. I started rooting around in my carryon, trying to find the book that I *intended* to pack in that bag and realized that at 4:30am, I wasn’t thinking very clearly and I put all my extra reading material into my checked luggage. I had to go buy another book to get me through the second half of my trip – especially since the plane to Jamaica was delayed – but only by 20 minutes… (I picked up Lisa Gardner’s “Hide” – a perfectly fine choice, I’m enjoying it). I landed in Jamaica and picked up my baggage and headed outside. While enjoying a smoke, I was approached by several men wanting to give me a taxi ride. I politely said no – I did end up taking a taxi to the hotel, but I wasn’t using anything but the official service, just to be on the safe side. One of the men, after I refused a ride in his taxi continued chatting with me and ended up asking me if I would call him if he gave me his card. I smiled, said no and he accepted it and we went on talking about the things to do in Jamaica – other than him, of course. I have the sort of figure that goes over well in poorer countries – I look wealthy (who else could afford to pack on so much *extra* onto her hips and butt?), but that still caught me by surprise.
I finally got to the hotel, only to find out that there was no reservation for me. Ooops! I went ahead and put part of the bill on my card (hey! I just got back from a vacation in England and a trip to Chicago that hasn’t been reimbursed yet – and I work in a library. I’m poor, despite what my hips have to say about it) and talked to one of the guys setting up for the conference. He said it would be cleared up tomorrow. I imagine it will be, so I’m not worried – yet.
After all that, my room wasn’t ready, so I hung about the area, checking out all the people from all over the world who are here at this resort. That was great fun. Then I found an ATM and tried to withdraw money. It wouldn’t let me have any – that was not fun. I asked at the desk and they said it was out of money. I got my room, went up and logged online. I checked – I’m not out of money. That was slightly more reassuring (especially since I just got paid yesterday!). Once I was settled in my room,
I went downstairs and got my “welcome” drink – something fruity and yummy – and went out to the outdoor bar area to sit, relax and finally enjoy being in Jamaica, looking at the Caribbean and the pool and the amazing views from the patio area.