One of the things I like about the ALA Conference is the relative straightforwardness of the program titles. "Informing the Future of MARC: an Empirical Approach" and "Interviewing Strategies," while boring, are clear and no-nonsense. But a conference wouldn't be a conference without stupid program titles, so let's take a look at some from ALA Annual '07. I'll note in advance that I didn't go to any of these programs, so I don't know if they were good or bad. I only know they sound bad.
"Why Can't Johnnie and Jane Get Published?" What a sad allusion, and increasingly dated. Why Johnny Can't Read was published in the 1950s, after all. And why change the "y" in Johnny to an "ie"? It's just dumb. Besides, the answer is obvious. They can't get published because they don't have anything to say and can't write well. I say this because I see a lot of the abysmal stuff published, and if they can't get published the problem is definitely with them. Johnnie and Jane needing tenure isn't a good enough reason to publish their crappy articles.
"Break on Through to the Other Side: Cultural Programming for New Librarians." This is the title of a song by the Doors (except for the "Cultural Programming" part. Don't know what Jim Morrison would have made of that). Another sad dated reference that seems to have no connection to the topic. Maybe the titler just likes the Doors.
"Can Blogs be Trusted?" seems straightforward enough, except it's a stupid question. Can the New York Times be trusted? Can your mother be trusted? How do you know?
"Librarian Overboard! Are You Navigating Stormy Issues without an Ethical Compass." Obviously the people who came up with this title got confused and thought they were going to the ACRL conference, hence the stupid nautical theme. I'll just say if I ever navigate any stormy issues, I'll be sure to pull my ethical compass from its secure location inside my nautical knapsack. However, if I'm already overboard, I'm not sure my compass will do me much good, unless maybe I had a little library raft and now I'm trying to find my way back home.
"Teens Read!" I had to nominate this one, because it has the exclamation point. Teens read. What a surprise.
"The Ultimate Debate: Do Libraries Innovate?" I include this one because I can't figure out who would really think this is the ultimate debate about libraries. Some people debate whether they should even exist, and it seems to me that should take precedent. After all, if they don't exist, then they can't innovate. So this is, at best, the penultimate debate, and probably not even that.
"Walking Hand-in-Hand: Librarianship & Social Movements Today." I bet you can figure out which ALA round table put that together. I'm very picky about which social movement I move hand in hand with, because it might be the Second Life Liberation Army.
"Moving Mountains: Exciting Trends in Library Delivery Services." I'm sure some people get very excited over library delivery services, but perhaps they could show their excitement without lapsing into cliche. One problem with most people trying to come up with a catchy title is the stupid cliches and mixed metaphors they resort to. Just tell it like it is. This is on the same page of the program booklet as "Using Technology to Market to Young Adults." That's a clear, informative title, and it doesn't even have an exclamation point, even though it was a YALSA program.
"To Change Your Library, Change Your Mind!" And while you're at it, change your building, staff, and administration. You could probably use a clean sweep anyway.
"Learning for Library Staff: Make it Blended, Not on the Rocks!" Oh please. Unless you're the Annoyed Librarian, skip the drink metaphors. I take my learning straight up, like my martinis.
"Disasters! Libraries! Technologies!" Three exclamation points! That must have been thrilling! I bet they had to dry out the seats at the Marriott after that presentation because the audience was probably wetting itself with excitement.
"Research: It's Not as Nerdy as You Think." Well, yes it is, actually, but we nerdy librarians like it anyway. I'm not sure who the audience is for this one. All the hip librarians? Obviously not a mass market.
"Diversity Counts! The Diversity Statistics, Data, and Resources You Need Right Now." I guess "Diversity is the Latest Trendy Meaningless Buzzword!" was already taken.
"The Insiders Guide to Capitol Hill (CLOSED)." Something about that "CLOSED" strikes me as funny. "This is just for insiders. You know you're an outsider because we won't let you in, but we're telling you about the program so you can feel bad about being an outsider."
"Addressing the Information Needs of Female-to-Male Transsexuals." A very straightforward title, but I'm not sure information is the most pressing need of these people. And what about the male-to-female transsexuals - don't they have information needs as well? Why were they left off the list! Sheer bigotry, if you ask me. So much for "diversity."
Well, there it ends. I went through the "Conference-at-a-Glance" so you didn't need to. All of these sound so good, I don't think I could pick just one for stupidest, though I think it might be a close race between "Disasters!" and "Librarian Overboard!" Perhaps next year ALA can have an open forum debating which program title is the stupidest, and the Council can pass a resolution.