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.
The opening general session of this year’s American Library Association (ALA) conference in San Francisco was a victory celebration, thanks largely to ALA’s luck and planning in booking Roberta Kaplan, lawyer for the Supreme Court case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, as the opening keynote. On the two-year anniversary of that case, the court found in favor of marriage equality, turning Kaplan’s appearance into so much more than a speech. While Sunday’s Pride Parade added logistical complications to travel, the mood was gala, with many of the 15,883 attendees and 6,813 exhibitors popping over to see the scene or participate. Total attendance was up by almost 3,000 compared with the 2014 annual conference in Las Vegas.
While it has always fallen to libraries to preserve the historical record of the communities they serve, libraries also need to consider their own history—especially in light of the changing landscape they face. At the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference, a panel of three authors whose recent books focus on private, public, and academic libraries spoke with moderator Barbara Hoffert, editor of LJ’s Prepub Alert, on Libraries and Book Collections as Essential Cultural Institutions: A Historical and Forward-Looking Perspective. The panelists discussed their own studies, and charged libraries to examine the cultural legacies of their own collections.
At the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference, ALA’s United for Libraries division presented a well-received session, Getting a Bigger Piece of the Pie: Effective Communication with Funders and Policy Makers. A panel of three experienced fundraisers talked about what is and isn’t working in their ongoing mission to help support their libraries, offering a range of good advice to library leaders and fundraisers at every level.
The use of video in higher education isn’t new, but the delivery method is changing. Streaming video offers access to important content and cutting-edge issues, and is easy to integrate into online courses. However, its recent popularity in the classroom—both on campus and for distance education—requires faculty, librarians, and distributors alike to learn a new set of rules. The American Library Association’s (ALA) Video Round Table hosted a session at the ALA Annual Conference to examine student and faculty engagement with streaming video, and the concerns surrounding it.