A standing-room only crowd attended Literacy Inside and Out: Services to Incarcerated and Newly-Released Adults and Their Families at the recent American Libraries Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Orlando, FL. I’ve been thinking about this issue—and serving under-served communities in general—since I was a public librarian. Once, a patron cautiously approached the reference desk, explaining that he had been recently released and needed assistance familiarizing himself with the library. At the time, I didn’t realize how a building full of large, imposing stacks could be intimidating for those who hadn’t been to a library before, or not for a long time.
Thanks to the joint efforts of a student group and university librarians at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, with a push from the American Library Association (ALA), the Library of Congress (LC) announced on March 22 that it would remove the term “Illegal alien” from the LC Subject Heading (LCSH) system, replacing it with “Noncitizen” and, to describe the act of residing without authorization, “Unauthorized immigration.” Per LC’s executive summary, the proposed change will be posted on a “Tentative List” for comments “not earlier than May, 2016.” Ultimately the heading “Illegal aliens” will become a “former heading” reference, cross-referenced with the new terminology; other headings that include the phrase will also be revised or canceled. This decision currently stands despite recent backlash: members of the U.S. House of Representatives have voted to attach language to a funding bill which would require LC to switch back to the original term, but the bill is not yet law.
Update: The Library of Congress has posted a survey where the public can share their views on the proposed changes, and will accept comments through July 20.
Kvetching about the location of the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference is practically a rite of passage. While the meeting has been held in many unquestionably great American cities, the association’s quest for affordable conference and hotel space in quantity tends to drive it to cold places in winter and hot in summer, and a certain amount of transit snafus and frayed tempers inevitably result. Objections to the location of this year’s ALA, running June 23–28 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, however, are on a completely different level.
Voting for the American Library Association (ALA) 2017–18 presidential election closed on April 22, and when the votes were tallied on April 29 James G. (Jim) Neal had won the role of president-elect in a close race. A total of 10,230 ballots were cast—marginally up from last year’s 10,119. Neal edged out opponents Christine Lind Hage and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe with 34.6 percent of the vote.
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.
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) annual convening is by nature a globe-trotting affair. In the past several years it has been held in Cape Town, South Africa; Lyons, France; Helsinki, Finland; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. This year the IFLA World Library and Information Congress will return to the United States for the first time since 2001, taking place August 13–19 in Columbus, OH. LJ caught up with Patrick Losinski, Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO, and Carol Diedrichs, dean emeritus of Ohio State University Libraries, to talk about best aspects of holding a global event locally.
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.
I’m concerned that the Canadian Library Association (CLA) has decided to disband. It isn’t just that I remember many of the top Canadian librarians I befriended and the good times I had at CLA conferences. The Canadian librarians I recently talked to were very unhappy about the dissolution of CLA (though they were too few to be a valid sample, and their views are too close to mine to help me understand what brought about this drastic action).