On April 13, the American Library Association (ALA) and Google announced the “Libraries Ready to Code” project, which will investigate the current status of computer programming activities in U.S. public and K–12 libraries with the goal of ultimately broadening the reach and scope of these coding programs. The project will include an environmental scan, practitioner interviews, focus groups, and site visits, and particular attention will be focused on opportunities that libraries are providing to minorities, girls, and other groups that are currently underrepresented in computer science and related fields, according to an announcement. The results of the project will be used to further engagement by ALA, and to inform a computer science policy agenda as part of the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy’s (OITP) Youth and Technology program.
Voting for the American Library Association (ALA) 2016–17 presidential campaign opens today, and ALA members in good standing can cast their ballots through April 22. This year’s candidates come from a range of backgrounds: Christine Lind Hage is director of the Rochester Hills Public Library, MI; Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe is a professor and coordinator for information literacy services and instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and James G. Neal most recently served as the vice president for information services and university librarian at New York’s Columbia University. LJ has invited them to weigh in on some key issues pertaining to ALA and librarianship; more information about the election can be found on ALA’s Election Information page.
American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting attendees were presented with a slate of strong contenders from both public and academic libraries at the ALA 2017–18 Presidential and Treasurer Candidates’ Forum on Saturday evening, January 9. Presidential candidates Christine Lind Hage, Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, and James G. Neal, as well as treasurer candidate Susan H. Hildreth, presented their platforms and discussed their stances on topics that will affect ALA in the months and years to come: investments; international outreach; the development of a leadership pipeline; the proposed name change for the Office for Literacy, Diversity, and Outreach Services; and work with the Freedom to Read Foundation. In particular, candidates highlighted their visions for ALA’s three current strategic directions: advocacy, information policy, and professional and leadership development.
As always, the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter meeting was the occasion for the debuts of new offerings from a wide range of library vendors. Below, please find a smattering of those we spotted in the aisles in alphabetical order. This list is necessarily far from comprehensive; if we missed yours (or your favorite) please add it in the comments!
Moderator Lisa Bunker, Social Media Librarian for Pima County Public Library (AZ) ; Jason Griffey, founder and principal of consulting and creation firm Evenly Distributed; Jim Hahn, orientation services and environments librarian and associate professor at the University of Illinois Undergraduate Library; Jamie Hollier, co-owner and co-CEO of technology consultancy Anneal; Alex Lent, director of the Millis Public Library (MA); Thomas Padilla, digital scholarship librarian at Michigan State University Libraries; and Ken Varnum, senior program manager for discovery, delivery, and learning analytics at the University of Michigan Library, during the Library Information Technology Association’s (LITA) Top Tech Trends panel at the American Library Association’s 2016 Midwinter conference in Boston.
The American Library Association’s (ALA) 2016 Midwinter Meeting, held January 8–12 in Boston, was pleasingly free of snow—even if the temperature did fluctuate enough, from nearly 60 rainy degrees on Sunday to well below freezing Monday evening, to make packing light impossible. But weather uncertainties took a back seat to the overwhelming atmosphere of positivity at the Boston Convention Center and Exhibition Center and surrounding venues during Midwinter’s 2,400 scheduled meetings and events. There was a strong sense among attendees, panelists, ALA officials, and exhibitors of libraries being poised to step into the next phase—whatever that might be. Below are some of the event’s highlights; more detailed coverage will follow.
James (Jamie) LaRue, most recently CEO of LaRue & Associates, has been chosen to lead the American Library Association (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), effective January 4, 2016 following the retirement of OIF director Barbara M. Jones on December 31. As former director of the Douglas County, CO, Library System and Colorado Librarian of the Year, LaRue will step into his new roles with hands-on library experience at all levels—local, regional, statewide, and national. He has also served on ALA’s Digital Content Working Group and OCLC’s executive council, as well as writing an LJ column on Self-Publishing and Libraries. LJ caught up with LaRue as he was preparing to relocate close to ALA headquarters in Chicago.
Digital Inclusion Survey: Renovation Matters, Help Happens at Point of Need, and Staff Still Do (Almost) Everything
In October, the Information Policy & Access Center at University of Maryland (iPAC) and the American Library Association (ALA) released the results and initial analysis from the 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey. iPAC has gathered statistics on public libraries and the Internet for 20 years, and this report highlights the sea change over that time. Of particular note, this survey looked more closely at the relationship between recent renovations or construction (within the past five years) and the ability of libraries to support a full and robust online life for all of a community’s residents—regardless of age, education, and socioeconomic status—by providing free access to public access technologies (hardware, software, high-speed Internet connectivity); a range of digital content; digital literacy services that assist individuals in navigating, understanding, evaluating, and creating content using a range of information and communications technologies; and programs and services around key community need areas such as health and wellness, education, employment and workforce development, and civic engagement.
The ALA’s new public awareness initiative is a savvy approach to the broad challenge libraries face as they continue to evolve and must communicate what they actually contribute to their communities. Much more than talk, Libraries Transform is an actionable toolkit you should put to work now to help your constituency understand the real life of libraries.
On October 29 American Library Association (ALA) president Sari Feldman launched the Libraries Transform campaign, a three-year national public awareness initiative focusing on the ways public, academic, school, and special libraries and librarians across the nation transform their communities. Events kicked off in Washington, DC, as the Libraries Transform team visited a cross-section of transformative libraries, and will continue with contributions from libraries—and library lovers—everywhere.