Subject: Electronic Postcard #1

Hello everyone!

Greetings from the city of San Francisco, site of the 116th Annual
Conference of the American Library Association.  For the first time
since 1992, the conference has returned to the city by the bay, one of
a handful of cities with convention facilities big enough to support
this event, which typically draws about 20,000 attendees and
exhibitors from around the world.  In addition to the massive Moscone
Convention Center, which itself has about 60 meeting rooms as well as
two very large exhibit halls, the meeting rooms and banquet halls of
eleven downtown hotels are pressed into service to host meetings,
programs, and demonstrations.  Group discount rates were arranged at
about forty hotels and lodging facilities by the association.

This is my second ALA conference in San Francisco, and fifth one
overall (including one of the smaller Midwinter Meetings, which are
held in February).  In years past, I've requested the least expensive
hotel rooms, and have ended up anywhere from one to eight miles away
from the convention center.  This time, I decided to pay for
convenience and got a room at the Monticello Inn, a refurbished older
hotel on Ellis Street, about a block north of Market -- a mere three
blocks or so from the Moscone Center, ten minutes by foot.  And yet,
substantially less expensive than places like the Marriott, the ANA,
or the Sheraton, which are closer still.  It's a small room with kind
of an "old building" smell, but otherwise nicely appointed with
colonial-style furnishings.  It's no Holiday Inn, but the extra
services (complimentary continental breakfast, complimentary wine
served for an hour in the evening, an Italian restaurant providing
room service) make up for it's shortcomings (narrow and winding
hallways and stairways, a window from which you only see other rooms,
no self-serve ice machines).  It's actually rather nice, and I've
enjoyed staying here.

As I've alluded to earlier, there is a lot happening at the
conference.  If you're not trudging through the exhibit halls, you're
running around to different hotels to attend programs.  On Saturday,
to save time, I ate lunch at the convention center, which is another
convenience you pay for -- $5.50 for a turkey sandwich, $2.79 for a
20-ounce bottle of soda.  On Saturday evening, the opening general
session was held, featuring a moving and inspiring keynote address by
Parade Magazine editor Walter Anderson, who spoke of the life-changing
potential of early positive intervention and encouragement in the
lives of young people.  That ceremony was followed by a reception at
the new San Francisco Public Library -- an absolutely drop-dead
gorgeous facility.  Visit it if you can -- it will amaze you when you
see what can be done with a public building.

Ralph Toyama                                           /      We now pause
Automation Librarian                                  /__      for station
University of Hawaii -- Leeward Community College       /  identification:  /   This is NH6PY/6