October 26, 2014

Betting on Vegas | ALA 2014 Preview

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Something different is in store for attendees of this year’s American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, to be held June 26–July 1 at Nevada’s Las Vegas Convention Center. For ALA annual and Midwinter Meeting veterans, accustomed to a rotation of familiar venues, Las Vegas offers a new twist. This is only the second ALA get-together held in Las Vegas; the first was in 1973. It remains to be seen whether the famous tourist destination will attract attendees in the numbers that habitually turn out for centrally located Chicago—and whether those who do turn up will forsake the exhibit floor for the town’s famous shows and casinos.

To Empower Community Colleges, Empower Their Librarians | From the Bell Tower

Steven Bell

Community colleges are increasingly important to America’s higher education system, but they are also a point of failure for too many students. The American Association for Community Colleges (AACC) is planning to change that with the rollout of a new guide—but where do librarians fit into the program?

Boston Libraries, Archives Commemorate Marathon Attack

A grouping of running shoes at the Dear Boston exhibit

One year after the tragic Boston Marathon bombings, the city’s libraries and cultural institutions are helping to preserve this painful moment in recent history and helping local residents reflect. Eight libraries and archives, as part of the #BostonBetter consortium, hosted events and exhibits or opened special hours in recognition of the anniversary. Others began working almost immediately after last year’s Marathon to preserve the memories and associated artifacts of the people who experienced the bombings.

Library Lifeline: The Ideas Box from Libraries Without Borders | Editorial

Ideas Box

The new Ideas Box from Libraries Without Borders/ Bibliothèques Sans Frontières is fun, smart, and inspiring. The comprehensive vision behind it and the resulting design hold lessons for anyone interested in library outreach. It takes a significant step forward in framing an ideal outpost library that can reach into the gap as an element of humanitarian aid in the wake of a disaster when basic services and cultural institutions are unavailable or inactive.

Meet the Candidates: ALA President 2015-16

Maggie Farrell left, Sari Feldman right

The campaign to elect the 2015-2016 President of the American Library Association (ALA) ends this month. To help inform ALA members who haven’t yet voted, and to give other librarians some additional insight into key issues currently on the ALA agenda, LJ asked each of the candidates to respond to five questions. The candidates, Maggie Farrell, dean of libraries at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, and Sari Feldman, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, Ohio, responded. (Full biographies of both candidates are available on the ALA Election Guide.)

The Lever Initiative: Taking a Stand To Change the World | Peer to Peer Review

Barbara Fister

The first phase of the Lever Initiative is nearly complete, so it seems a good time to share what we’ve learned. In 2010, I sent an email to a group of liberal arts college library directors suggesting a crazy idea: what if we jointly investigated the possibility of starting an open access press? We formed a task force to explore the idea. The next step, should we decide to go forward, will be to explore what exactly we might do and how we would fund it.

Midwinter Murmurs | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

Despite what appeared to be high registration for the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) in Philadelphia this January, we heard low rumblings of discontent. These comments were usually voiced late in the night at the parties and barroom gatherings. Much said at such gatherings never moves into the formal deliberations of ALA legislation. That is too bad. Some of it deserves attention and might even help ALA remain as strong as it is today.

Inspiring the New Public Library | PLA Preview 2014

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For public librarians , two years is really too long to wait for the professional recharging, updates, and new ideas that a Public Library Association (PLA) conference delivers. So, as usual, expectations are high for attendance at the 2014 PLA meeting, which takes place in Indianapolis, March 11–15.

Amid Winter in Philadelphia | ALA Midwinter 2014

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Snow and cold presented transportation challenges in getting to Philadelphia for the American Library Association (ALA)’s 2014 Midwinter conference, leading some exhibitors to express disappointment in the light crowds on the exhibit floor, though ALA reports attendance of 12,207, topping San Diego, Dallas, and Seattle’s numbers (However, the growth came mostly in exhibitors and exhibitor-invited complimentary attendees.) Those hardy, or lucky, librarians that did make it got some good leads and found excitement in a number of places. Besides grabbing the many galleys on offer and waiting on line for signings, the presence of Google Glass (being demonstrated under the aegis of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy) created buzz. Via Twitter, librarians reacted to the wearable computing device in ways that ran the gamut from enthusiasm to criticism of the functionality to concern about patron privacy.

ALA and the Reunification of Librarianship

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The American Library Association (ALA)’s burgeoning budget crisis and dip in membership shows the group is having a tough time thriving as a multi-type library organization. It might be easy to cast a net of blame across the tepid economy, the aging profession, even entrenched leadership in ALA itself. But we think ALA’s membership woes are caused by a lack of unity across librarianship, a problem that is reinforced by ALA’s organizational structure and too narrow publications. In the tradition of thinking such as Andy Woodworth’s ‘big tent’ librarianship, we believe the leadership of the ALA should be at the forefront of unifying librarianship, working to link our academic, public, and school libraries and librarians. Instead, we shudder as we see ALA working to reinforce silos that separate public, academic, and school libraries from one another, rather than bridges to connect them.