I'll start with full disclosure. I am a fan of both AALL and the Annual Meeting. I have a long history of participation and leadership. I don't think I've missed an Annual Meeting since I entered the profession in 1997 (Baltimore). I've studied for the bar while attending Annual Meeting (Baltimore), nursed a baby while attending Annual Meeting (Anaheim), and I even attended Annual Meeting when I was 8 months pregnant (DC) and had to take the train because the airlines wouldn't let me fly! I find the Association to be a wonderful source for professional engagement and the Annual Meeting to be a time for re-energizing and re-connecting.
But as an engaged member it's also my responsibility to speak up when I think something isn't working. And after having had time to reflect, and to speak with some of my colleagues, I think the Annual Meeting isn't working. It's just frantic! It reminds me of that game show booth where they blow air in and cash swirls all around you and you have to grab what you can. Everything swirling around you is great, but you only get to keep what you can hold in your two hands. And even though there is a million dollars in the booth, the producers know you can't get out of that booth with more than a very small percentage of that cash, even if you have a great strategy. So in the end, you'll walk away with something valuable, but you'll lament what you left behind.
In Philly, I got a lot of good work done, but there was a lot left on the table. It seems like we're moving in the wrong direction; trying to accomplish MORE in LESS time. I need that extra day back that we lopped off the AM a few years back! And I really would like to see at least one group event reinstated (luncheon, closing banquet). I think we miss out on a sense of cohesiveness and community without one such event. This year, with the exhibit opening switched and some of the association activities (awards, closing ceremont, etc.) moved into the exhibit hall, the lack of an association event was even more apparent. These events, which are typically better attended than the annual business meeting or plenaries, might give our keynote speakers a better audience and allow awards and recognitions to colleagues and sponsors to be given the attention they deserve. And finally, I still believe we should rethink programming. In this respect, less is more. Maybe we should think about tracks? Or some other scheduling innovation? What are your thoughts?