Wednesday, September 10, 2008

AASLH 2008 Day 1

Phew! Day one of the annual meeting of the American Association of State and Local History is over. It's being held in lovely downtown Rochester where it is surprisingly difficult to eat dinner after 8 pm for under $10 within walking distance of the hotel (assuming you are a young woman walking alone in an unfamiliar city after dark... so we're talking 2-3 blocks in any direction).

I began my morning by attending a session on Using Digital Collections to Expand Your Audiences. It was nothing new or exciting. In first, the first speaker was extremely underwhelming and thought it was wonderful that a new image shows up everytime you load a certain webpage. One gentleman spoke about how easy it is to make video in house. His was the most interesting of the session. The other two gentlemen spoke about their specific archive digitization projects which, while interesting, were not really helpful or inspiring.

At the keynote address, I sat in the back of the room and knit on my sock. This is not disrespectful; I do actually listen better when my hands are occupied. Two other knitters spotted me and joined in, one even returning to her room to get her knitting. The keynote speaker, Bernice Johnson Reagon, was really wonderful. And she managed to get several hundred historians, archivists, librarians, and museum folk to sing along in a call and response. I took video. But the hotel wireless is slow, so I cannot upload it to prove this to you.

Second session of the day addressed Museum Studies Programs and the Future of the Profession. Unimpressed. Had been hoping for something interesting, something new to chew on. But I heard about how the Cooperstown and GW programs work and that there are too many people with Master's Degrees applying for too few jobs and that there are too few people with the kind of experience necessary to be the director of medium and large institutions.

Final session of the day went Beyond Construcction: Transformational Small Museums Building Projects. Four museums build and renovate. Very interesting stuff. Had been hoping for information on packing and moving collections, which was not the main focus. Nonetheless, it was the most interesting session I attended all day.

I have to say, it feels good to be among other museum professionals. While my job is an excellent experience, I am working alone among non-museum professionals, and certainly, non-museum generalists. I was even able to strike up a conversation about blogs during one of the "networking breaks." Ice cream was provided.

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