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July 28, 2015 - President's Column
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Welcome to the initial issue of the newly reinvented CLA newsletter.  First of all, I would like to thank Rebecca Forth and her team for undertaking this endeavor.  I hope that you will find this newsletter to be fun, enlightening and that will give you a feeling of being more connected to the California Library Association.  (For this to happen will probably take more than one issue but we have to start somewhere, right?...)

For my opening column, I wanted to write something about our upcoming 2015 conference that will be in my home town of Pasadena.  (Coincidence?  I think not…)  The theme for our conference this year  is “Reimagine / Reinvent” and one aspect of the conference that is being “reimagined” is that we will actually have programs going on well into the evening (some starting as late as 2am!)  One very common question I have been getting asked is where did this idea come from?  (Some people are intrigued by the concept, some aghast and some I suspect are just curious to see what a library conference looks like at 10pm or at midnight or dare I say at 2am.)

Well the genesis of this idea started about two years ago while waiting for a flight at the San Jose airport.  My former partner in crime (and current director of the Rancho Cucamonga Public Library) Michelle Perera and I were killing time (our flight was delayed) so I asked her, when, as the CLA President, and my conference in Pasadena rolls around, what ideas did she have to do something a little different, and in particular something that might be of interest to the millennials and Gen Xers in our profession.  Without missing a beat, Michelle said, “Do a 24/7 conference.  Once you start it, don’t stop.”  For those of you who know Michelle, she is an absolute fountain of creativity and in all my time working with her (20+ years), she has never been at a loss for new ideas.  But when she mentioned a 24/7 conference, this seemed pretty out of the box even for her.  So naturally I said “Well, let me think about this for a bit…” which for anyone who knows me knows that this is Karatsu-speak for “Not gonna happen anytime soon.”  And with Michelle, since she is so creative, inevitably 5 minutes later she will come up with another new idea, which is what I was expecting (hoping) to happen.  But Michelle wasn’t letting go of this one.  She mentioned some programs that could work during the day, and then what a counterpart program at night would look like.  She said that for people who aren’t night owls, there would still be a regular 9-5 program track happening.  And she threw out the idea of having a “Midnight Funny Cat Video Film Festival” (basically all of those crazy cat videos that saturate the Internet, edited together, with breakfast burritos being served!)  At this point, I offered up a suggestion for another “night track” program (probably something lame since I can’t remember what it was now) and Michelle said “Great idea!  We have to do that as well!”  Basically, at this point she knew she had me (and my buy-in into a 24/7 conference) in her clutches.

Implementing the vision for our 2015 conference fell into the hands of Mary Menzel, the director for the California Center for the Book and the conference program committee (all 27 of them!)   They put out the call and in response received over 200 submissions!  They carefully curated and scheduled them and now they are ready to go.  Similarly, Vanessa Christman and the membership committee are pulling together the popular “Ignite” sessions format, adopted of course, California-style.  (Plus the membership people will also bring back the super-popular photo booth for your glam shots and something about tattoos…)   Jennifer Baker, Ashley Kagan and Michelle took the lead in putting together the special events that will happen, everything from the Awards Brunch to the Beatty and Young Readers Medal Tea to the State Librarian’s Breakfast to Battledecks.  And just because, Mary Abler led the team that put together “Sunday FUNday” (say that without smiling!), some very SoCal after-the-conference tours and activities to partake in before heading back home.

And one final bit of advice for anyone who is planning a conference in the future:  When you rent a conference site, check the fine print but generally you rent the entire space for the entire time you are there so why not take advantage of this?  We are.  So I hope you will join me November 5-8 to “Reimagine / Reinvent” in Pasadena for our 2015 California Library Association conference!   Registration is open and operators are standing by to fill your orders!  (Actually, just go online and do it yourself…)

See you in Pasadena!

Robert Karatsu, President
California Library Association