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.)
Shows & Events
New Adult (NA) fiction is the rage these days in the publishing world, but what is it exactly? Is it an actual genre or just a marketing term? At a lively PLA2014 ConverStation session entitled “New Adult Fiction: What is It, Where is It, and What Should We Do with It,” facilitators Sophie Brookover (LibraryLinkNJ—The Library Cooperative, Piscataway, NJ) and Kelly Jensen (Beloit (WI) Public Library) ) threw out five questions for the audience to discuss at their tables and then share in the main conversation.
The Public Library Association (PLA) Conference comes around every other year, but that long wait may make it all the more special to attendees, many of whom described the biennial gathering as their favorite library conference. Held in Indianapolis, this year’s conference brought together librarians, publishers, authors, and vendors for three days of programming with a focus on issues like collection development, finding partners to help increase the impact of programs, and reaching out to patrons, especially those in underserved communities.
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.
User-generated content (UGC)—which includes tweets, reviews, Facebook posts, and Wikipedia articles—now plays a key role in the average person’s Internet experience. UGC is also becoming an indispensable resource for helping researchers make sense of big data. In his Wednesday keynote address “The Mining and Application of Diverse Cultural Perspectives in User-Generated Content” at the Electronic Resources and Libraries (ER&L) conference in Austin this week, Brent Hecht, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Minnesota, will discuss how “UGC reflects the cultural diversity of its contributors to a previously unidentified extent and that this diversity has important implications for Web users and existing UGC-based technologies.” Prior to the event, LJ spoke with Hecht about the intersection of geography and computer science, the influence of UGC, and why librarians are needed to help patrons navigate popular UGC resources such as Wikipedia.
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.
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.
As I write this, ALA Midwinter is about to take place in Philadelphia. I’ve been hearing from friends and colleagues wanting to know if I’ll be attending the meeting, which I won’t. I haven’t been to an ALA conference in a while, and now I’m thinking about what it will take to get me to an ALA, whether annual or midwinter.