ALA Midwinter: Professional Etiquette Luncheon (2/1/15)

This interactive luncheon presentation provides an extensive tutorial on the dining etiquette skills needed when meeting potential clients, colleagues or employers in professional networking settings. The full dining tutorial includes how to navigate table settings, properly hold silverware for each course, how to eat various foods, and how to graciously toast your host. A portion of the presentation also focuses on professional etiquette as it relates to dress, behavior and communication in the professional world.

via Professional Etiquette Luncheon | 2015 ALA MidWinter Conference.

I find this $40 session intriguing although part of me thinks that most people who can afford a $40 lunch probably have a good idea of etiquette.

I could use a refresher on dining etiquette, especially on how to eat certain foods. This is part of why I rarely order pasta when dining with people I’ve just met in a professional setting. The dress, behavior and communication parts are probably less meaningful for my work in Alaska as many professionals of many stripes pride themselves on Alaska’s informality. This is part of the reason I never wear a tie to a professional conference. But it could help if I ever wind up visiting the Legislature in a professional capacity or if I take a job down south at an institution that prides itself on its conventional ideas of professionalism in dress.

Going back to the price tag, I’m concerned about a mismatch between the price of the event and its likely target audience of library students and new professionals from lower economic classes. These folks had to pay for ALA membership, then a conference fee and then an extra $40. Even if they get support from their libraries (the students will not), library workers almost never get support for extra meals beyond their per diem. $40 for lunch may mean they go without breakfast or lunch that day for the privilege of learning about etiquette.

I’m finding that my belief that many things ALA offers are geared towards mid-career salaries is starting to become a hobby horse for me. But if the Association can’t make things affordable and useful for lower wage members, what sort of future do we have?

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