ALA Annual from 2 points of view

ALA is now offering library vendors their “first round assignments for ALA 2013,” that is, their booth assignments in the exhibit hall. I want to juxtapose ALA’s two summaries of the Annual Conference, one for librarians and the other for vendors:

Librarians get:

The Annual Conference is the best place to expand your network, build your knowledge, and improve your profession.

Vendors get:

Exhibiting at ALA tradeshows provides the best and most comprehensive opportunity to reach decision-makers in the library industry. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago next June.

Interesting that ALA speaks the vendors’ language when talking to them – ALA Annual is a “trade show” for the “library industry.” This despite the fact that libraries seem to be the primary if not one of the biggest markets for almost all of the vendors present. You would think that ALA could have the confidence in librarianship as a social institution to call the conference a conference and the field of libraries a field.

This is another sign of the effects of member dues constituting a small proportion of ALA’s revenues versus a half century ago, when we really could say that it was a member organization. (To be fair, ALA’s justification for this change in revenue patterns – that its transformation into a business came about in order to meet the demands of members – is probably true.)