There will be more than enough information and action at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits (MW) of the American Library Association (ALA) to make it worth the cost and time for any library worker to attend. It features a sparkling array of celebrities and authors, a massive exhibit show floor at McCormick Place, a pile of jobs and opportunities, a packed schedule of meetings, the fantastic city of Chicago, and, best of all, plenty of chances to booze and schmooze with peers, colleagues, vendors, and new professional friends.
Siobhan A. Reardon engineered the creation of an ambitious, five-year strategic plan, underpinned by a powerful mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity through the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP). Her plan refocused the role of the library, outlines a cluster model to streamline and enhance neighborhood library services, and collaborate with community leaders to develop programs and services most needed by residents. Those achievements alone could qualify Reardon, the first woman to serve as president and director of FLP, to be named the LJ 2015 Librarian of the Year, sponsored by Baker & Taylor, but she has achieved much more in a short tenure that is marking a turnaround for this important but embattled library.
The American Library Association’s (ALA)Allied Professional Association (APA) recently sent a message to the members of the ALA Council and other “member leaders.” With the help of Al Kagan, who represents ALA’s Social Responsibilities Round Table on Council, we saw the message and were reminded that since APA’s founding in 2001, we have never fully understood what it is or does, whether it is a real association or just a tax dodge.
You’d think Library Journal and ALISE (Association for Library and Information Science Education) had Paul T. Jaeger in mind when they wrote the criteria for the LJ/ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award. Jaeger, associate professor, College of Information Studies (CIS), University of Maryland, College Park, is the winner of the 2014 award, sponsored by ProQuest, which merges the LJ and ALISE honors for the first time. Jaeger clearly “illustrates student-centered thinking” in his teaching. His contributions to curriculum design at CIS display his expertise and command of new developments. Current and former students enthusiastically tell of Jaeger’s work as mentor, career builder, and collaborator in their working lives. Teaching the core values of the profession comes easy to Jaeger, because his commitment to them is rooted in his early personal and academic life.
The beginning of each semester always rejuvenates me. There is nothing more stimulating than those first few sessions with a class of expectant students, arriving with their high energy, curiosity, and desire to participate and impress. My new class at Pratt Institute’s SILS came to New York from all over America and the world. The students range in age from their 20s to their 60s, which has so often been typical of my LIS classes. It is a great privilege and honor to work with them to try to answer the accursed questions that continue to plague our profession.
The Charleston Conference is unique! Since its founding by Katina Strauch in 1980 it has provided professional enrichment, knowledge, and open discussion to thousands of librarians, information specialists, and vendors primarily focused on academic and research libraries. There is a huge array of programs, panels, and speakers, plus days of informal interactions in which librarians at all levels and vendors talk about their work, problems, innovations, and best practices in a charming setting, redolent with Southern hospitality.
Activist librarian Zoia Markovna Horn died on July 12 at the age 96. She was famous for being the first U.S. librarian to be jailed for refusing to divulge information that violated professional principles of privacy and intellectual freedom. An activist member of the American Library Association (ALA) and a member and chair of its Intellectual Freedom Committee, Horn was jailed for 20 days for contempt after refusing to testify in the 1972 conspiracy trial of the “Harrisburg Seven.”
Although it is often perceived as interference, or “meddling,” the presumption of ownership by people who live in the jurisdiction of a local public library and their resulting strong opinions about how the place should operate are assets to be nurtured and treasured. Yes, the phenomenon regularly causes disputes about library policies and purposes and makes for controversial community debate. Indeed, library professionals and managers are frequently forced by public opinion, bolstered by media coverage, to operate libraries in ways quite different from their preferred practices.