Magazine article American Libraries

ALISE: Relaxed, Informal, and Informative

Magazine article American Libraries

ALISE: Relaxed, Informal, and Informative

Article excerpt

Meetings of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) draw hundreds--not thousands--of attendees. That relative intimacy allows informality, and ALISE members like it that way, particularly as a prelude to massive, structured Midwinter. San Antonio's La Mansion del Rio Hotel was the venue for 381 attendees who met Jan. 21-24 to consider "The Ecology of Organizational Survival."

Understandably, survival was the big issue. However, survival and standards for accreditation of MLS programs, the other big issue, didn't monopolize the meeting. ALISE members give papers the way ALAers go to committee meetings-morning, afternoon, and night--on topics as diverse as cataloging education, genealogy, "gender gymnastics," and satellite-based telecourses. They also heard former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros; met in sessions for PhD students, adjunct faculty, and retirees; interviewed for jobs, took part in a cultural diversity workshop, ceaselessly bandied interesting ideas, relaxed, and renewed friendships.

Especially as an adjective, "relaxed" is an operative word. Papers are presented to friends and colleagues by practiced public speakers. The results are often as entertaining as they are informative. Sydney Pierce, a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma, and Jim Carmichael of the University of North Carolina/Greensboro prove the point:

Trained as a sociologist, Pierce offered a laugh-out-loud-funny-yet-serious critique of the lack of a theoretical foundation for LIS education. How many other disciplines, she asked, would allow a dissertation that didn't touch on that discipline's central theories? "We don't have a lot of dead Germans. We have a few dead Americans, a Briton or two, and one dead Indian," she said.

Carmichael's statistical study, "Gender Gymnastics," argued that 60% of male librarians accept the stereotype of male librarians as gay, wimpish, etc. Carmichael's wry comments and stage whispers had his audience straining to hear every word over their own laughter.

But seriously . . .

The issue of survival was the focus of General Session I (the meeting's official kickoff), a later program called "Critical Issues," and countless corridor discussions. University of California/Berkeley Acting Dean Nancy van House read San Jose State University faculty member Karen Ceppos's paper on innovation and survival in higher education. …

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