Five experts discussed the latest in library tech during the Library Information Technology Association (LITA) Top Technology Trends panel at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter 2015 conference in Chicago. In front of a full house despite the snowstorm outside, the lively discussion of trends ranged from coding classes for girls to the growing infrastructure demands of open access publishing.
The American Library Association (ALA) Presidential Candidates’ Forum, held Saturday evening, offered an opportunity for the four candidates running for the 2016–17 ALA presidency to present their platforms and answer audience questions. Candidates Joseph Janes, James LaRue, JP Porcaro, and Julie Todaro discussed their philosophies and history of service—both within and outside ALA—and answered questions on subjects ranging from their membership in ALA’s Freedom to Read Foundation to the relevance of current library education and job prospects for future librarians. Barbara Stripling, ALA president from 2013–14, moderated the forum.
On January 30 the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (KF) announced the winning 22 projects for its Knight News Challenge on Libraries. A total of $3 million will be distributed among the recipients, representing libraries and organizations from across the United States who brought a wide range of innovative ideas to advance the mission of libraries.
While the American Library Association (ALA) conferences held in Chicago commonly see some of the highest attendance thanks to the association’s hometown’s central location, winter weather hitting Sunday of this year’s Midwinter made that something of a mixed blessing—more than 19 inches of snow between Saturday night and Monday morning. While many locals stayed home (and perhaps watched the Super Bowl) and a few out-of-towners were able to beat the storm by departing early, many librarians and vendors were snowed in. Some 1,500 flights were cancelled arriving and departing Chicago’s airports on Sunday and Monday, forcing them to stay one, two, or even three days longer than originally intended—including much of the LJ staff.
Since the American Library Association (ALA) announced its collaboration with the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, for ALA’s the Promise of Libraries Transforming Communities, in 2012, the organizations have provided a variety of venues for libraries to engage deeply with the question of how they can and should enable change in their communities. At the upcoming ALA Midwinter Meeting, the Institute will lead a series of four hands-on workshops on Turning Outward To Lead Change in your Community. However, Harwood is also leading this charge beyond the conference circuit, holding longer, more intensive Innovators Labs for libraries. The first took place Oct. 8–10, 2014, at the Loudermilk Convention Center in Atlanta. Michael Casey, Division Director, Information Technology at Gwinnett County Public Library, GA, and an LJ Mover & Shaker, attended the lab and reports below, giving Midwinter attendees a hint of what they might find in the sessions.
Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) has announced “Designing for Digital,” a two-day user experience (UX) conference on February 25 and 26, immediately following the 2015 annual ER&L conference at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin, TX, held February 22–25. The new event builds on the success of the full UX Day launched last year at ER&L 2014, according to conference officials.
There will be more than enough information and action at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits (MW) of the American Library Association (ALA) to make it worth the cost and time for any library worker to attend. It features a sparkling array of celebrities and authors, a massive exhibit show floor at McCormick Place, a pile of jobs and opportunities, a packed schedule of meetings, the fantastic city of Chicago, and, best of all, plenty of chances to booze and schmooze with peers, colleagues, vendors, and new professional friends.
Professional networking and schmoozing are two of the most important skills a librarian can have. They are not taught in MLIS programs, and being proficient at both was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn. In order to get the projects done in my community that I was passionate about, move my library forward, and garner political support, I realized that I needed to take advantage of the many professional and political social opportunities going on around me. Over several years I worked hard to learn how to connect whenever an opportunity arose. The following are things that I’ve learned by watching other people, by reading and learning about networking, and from what has worked for me at events when I don’t know anyone.
Restaurant review and travel publisher Fodor’s shared the following selection of dining choices with LJ’s readers. Prices listed are the average cost for a main dinner entrée, excluding taxes. The area around McCormick Place has plenty of low-key eateries, but if you’d rather find a spot that locals love and newcomers consider well worth a short taxi ride, head to these Fodor’s-recommended locales in the nearby South Loop and Chinatown areas.
The Charleston Conference felt bigger than ever this year, with multiple attendees in the halls and elevators commenting on the profusion of programs at multiple venues, the standing room only grounds for popular breakout sessions, and the fact that they could no longer count on seeing everyone they know among the other attendees in the course of the conference. It is equally impossible to see even a fraction of the many compelling programs presented during the event; below is only our impression from the handful we could personally attend.