On Saturday, June 25, at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Orlando, the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were given to two winners originally announced at the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) Book & Media Awards Ceremony & Reception at ALA Midwinter. Viet Thanh Nguyen won the fiction medal for his debut novel, The Sympathizer (Grove), a visceral account of a South Vietnamese double agent posted to America after Saigon’s fall, and Sally Mann won the nonfiction medal for her formally ambitious Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs (Little, Brown).
A key point that led off—and was reiterated several times throughout—“Strategies and Partnerships: Tailoring Data Services for Your Institutional Needs,” the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) President’s Program at the recent American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Orlando, FL, was the importance of establishing a common understanding of what exactly “data services” means. The term is a catch-all for a diverse set of activities; using it without defining its scope can become problematic for everyone involved.
“How many of you would be prepared to handle an active shooter in your library? How many of you have an active shooter policy?” Few hands were raised when BreAnne Meier from the North Dakota State Library asked these relevant questions at the Active Shooter Policies in Libraries Program at the American Library Association (ALA)’s recent Annual Conference in Orlando, FL. Meier described active shooter situations as ones where someone is actively engaged in killing, has access to a confined area or population, and is sometimes motivated by revenge. As a result, she explained, these situations are unpredictable and can change quickly, often lasting for such a short time as ten to 15 minutes.
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.
A number of higher education–focused sessions at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference touched on issues surrounding student retention and completion—and with the costs of tuition, housing, and materials constantly rising, saving students money is a major consideration. When the conversation includes state and community colleges, and a student body that may have less access to financial resources, finding strategies to cut costs becomes more important than ever. Open educational resources (OER)—freely accessible texts and media that faculty can assemble, repurpose, and package under open access agreements for teaching and research—are a rapidly growing option.
In a June 25 session at the ALA Annual conference in Orlando, John Bracken, VP of media innovation for the Knight Foundation, said that the foundation has been focused on three key questions when working with libraries: What can be done to foster cross-discipline collaboration, possibly learning from projects in other civic sectors such as Code for America, 18F, or the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews collaboration; how can community be put “even more robustly” at the center of the foundation’s work; and how can the foundation help libraries tell their stories to wider audiences? “To succeed, particularly in a time of reduced public investment, it is vital to tell our stories in ways that people can understand the breadth of our work, and on platforms” where the public is present and listening, Bracken said.
The American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference ran June 23-28 at Orlando, FL’s Orange County Convention Center and nearby venues. The mass shooting at Latin night at Orlando’s Pulse, an LGBT nightclub, a couple of weeks before the ALA Annual was top of mind for conferencegoers, leading to displays of solidarity both practical and symbolic. Attendance was considerably down relative to last year. Nonetheless, exhibitors were happy with the crowds on the show floor. The Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) reported, “The Association is still a financially strong and sound organization.”
Update: ALA is planning a planning a memorial gathering at the Annual Conference on Saturday, June 25, 8–8:30 a.m. in the OCCC Auditorium, and a special conference Read Out co-sponsored by GLBTRT and OIF. Details on other support activities during the conference can be found here.
In the wake of the shooting in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on the night of June 12, which killed 49 people and injured 53 others, library administration and staff, organizations and vendors have stepped up with statements of solidarity, offers of help, and opportunities to join forces with the GLBT and Latinx communities—the shooting occurred during Pulse’s Latin night—to mourn those killed and wounded.
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.