March 18, 2018

Back Home to Chicago: LJ’s Guide to the 2013 ALA Annual Conference Program

The annual conference of the American Library Association (ALA) goes home to Chicago this year, the city that always attracts more members and exhibitors than any other. Despite the distance from most conference hotels and the time it takes to get to ­McCormick Place where the convention is centered, Chicago conferences work well because of convenient conference buses and the easy availability of cabs.

Many will attend ALA with a variety of challenges in mind, and there are hundreds of programs to address all of them, plus a horde of celebrities and authors for entertainment and program and collection development.

Programs on the agenda

Libraries of all types need ways to ensure themselves viable futures through new programming, advocacy, and community action efforts. Clearly, they have discovered that library user groups come with very special demands and desires so programs abound on service for special groups. These include the aging, young adults and kids, African Americans, Latinos, and other minorities.

School librarians will be seeking new ways to survive in a very tough education economy and to join the teachers in the adoption of Common Core.

Especially in need of library services and programs are the unemployed and homeless, and ALA programs aimed at helping those who create those offerings are plentiful.

For unemployed librarians, the ALA JobLIST Placement Center provided by the ALA Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR) will be open Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. There will be an orientation on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. in the center and an open house on Sunday, 10:30 a.m.–noon.

You’ll find programs on data-driven management and digital collection management as well. As well, the conference is fully packed with celebrities and authors (see sidebar below), always a big attraction. Also look for LJ ’s Galley Guide to the ALA show floor, coming in June from Prepub Alert editor Barbara Hoffert (sign up for Prepub Alert to be notified when it’s ­available).

A needy ALA

It’s good that Chicago attracts huge attendance. ALA revenues are down, even though the association is “financially stable,” according to ALA leaders. Lower than projected revenues for two fiscal years have forced budget reductions and may lead to what is being dubbed “a more ­focused association.”

Revenues in the general fund half of the ALA budget (publishing, conference services, membership, and ALA offices and support units) are slightly lower than projected, with conferences projected to be very close to their target. ALA Publishing is expected to bring in “significantly lower revenues,” falling by 22 percent, according to recent info from the ALA home office. Revenues for the Resource Description and Access framework and ALA Editions are now projected to be $1.8 million less than was expected. You can bet that this will be among the hottest topics discussed by the ALA Council and unit leaders.

Already ALA has decided to hold off filling ten open positions, and senior managers have taken a voluntary ten percent pay cut to balance the 2013 budget. Meanwhile, as currently projected, the Las Vegas conference in 2014 will net $1 million less than the Chicago event.

All of this means cost-cutting throughout the association and increased efforts to exploit every activity for revenue. You will notice that ALA is already pushing revenue goals very hard at the Chicago conference.

Editor’s choices

To aid in your use of the handy ALA Scheduler this year LJ ’s editors have selected a few of their favorite ALA program sessions from the sprawling array of options on offer. We hope these selections will give you the best shot at the newest and best ideas and innovations, the most useful information and best practices, and, of course, the most entertainment for the time and money you have invested. If all else fails there is always “that toddlin’ town” outside.—John N. Berry III

Editor’s Picks


Committee on the Future of University Libraries Meeting (ACRL ULS)

Fri., Jun. 28, 1:30–3:30 p.m. Hyatt Regency Chicago, Comiskey Hear the University Libraries Section (ULS) explore and document new directions in research institutions and brainstorm ways that the section can better support university librarians in the future.

Washington Office Update Session

Sat., Jun. 29, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP S502) The latest word on national politics and policy and the implications for libraries. Susan Crawford, former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology, and innovation policy will provide views on the challenges of enabling access to broadband and information for everyone.

ALA Council/Executive Board/Membership Information Session

Sat., Jun. 29, 3–4:30 p.m. (MCP S100c) Best place to find out what is on the ALA governance agenda. You can—and should—ask questions about how this membership organization is run.

Reimagining Libraries: United for Libraries President’s Program

Sun., Jun. 30, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP S105d) A panel from Anythink Libraries, Rangeview Library District, CO, will tell how they rebuilt the library system, creating a new brand that inspired innovation as the library morphed to a place where the community connects.

Accreditation Transparency and Information Disclosure—How Bare Is Fair?

Sun., Jun. 30, 4:30–5:30 p.m. Hilton Chicago, Conference Room 4M Discuss with some from the ALA Committee on Accreditation why more info about how LIS programs are accredited (or not) should be made public. Too much ALA accreditation information has been hidden for too long.

Conversation Starters: LibrARy Orientation: Augmented Reality in the Library

Sat., Jun. 29, 8–8:45 a.m. (MCP S102d) Alexandra Van Doren, Jovanni Lota, and Lindsey Simard have been working with an augmented reality (AR) app to create an engaging library orientation activity for students at the University of Houston-Downtown. See how this emerging technology can be used in libraries.

Connecting Libraries and Vendor Platforms: Have We Advanced from the Black Box to Open Systems?

Sat., Jun. 29, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP S402a) Technology products created for libraries rarely satisfy all of their needs “out of the box.” Marshall Breeding (Library Technology Guides) and Matt Goldner (OCLC) will talk with the chief technology or strategy officers of major library vendors about the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow library programmers to extend the capabilities of products and enable interoperability with other applications.

Cutting-Edge Technology in Library Services

Sun., Jun. 30, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP N427b-c) Each year, the Office of Information Technology Policy (OITP) and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) recognize five cutting-edge technologies in library services. In this session, representatives from the five libraries selected will discuss the services that earned this special recognition.

Top Technology Trends & LITA Awards Presentation

Sun., Jun. 30, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP S105a-c) Join Aimee Fifarek (Scottsdale PL), Char Booth (Claremont Colls. Lib.), Clifford Lynch (Coalition for Networked Information), Gary Price (LJ infoDOCKET), Lorcan Dempsey (OCLC), Sarah Houghton (San Rafael PL), and Scott Walker (DePaul Univ.) as they discuss recent advances in technology and their impact on the library world. Presentation of LITA awards and scholarships takes place at the beginning of the session, prior to the TTT program.

Conversation Starters: 40 Great Apps for Mobile Reference and Outreach

Sun., Jun. 30, 2:45–3:30 p.m. (MCP S102d) Mel Gooch and Richard Le from San Francisco PL discuss 40 mobile apps that librarians and their patrons can use to access information on the go about books and reference, business, health and fitness, and government agencies and resources.

Chief Collection Development Officers of Large Research Libraries Interest Group

Sat., Jun. 29, 8:30–11:30 a.m. InterContinental Chicago Camelot Rm. This annual session is one of what are known as the “Big Heads” meetings, and this one is the spot to be to get a sense of what the coming academic year is likely to look like in terms of collection contours and prevailing budget and licensing concerns.

Success Stories and Challenges: How Librarians Are Employing Fair Use with Their Code

Sat., Jun. 29, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP N427a) In a vacuum, fair use can be a difficult standard to apply given the uncertainties it involves. Fortunately, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has developed a fair use code of best practices, and this session is devoted to the latest successes working with it. Featuring the always illuminating Brandon Butler, ARL director of public policy initiatives, and Kevin Smith, director, copyright and scholarly communication, Duke Univ.


Sat., Jun. 29, 3–4 p.m., Hyatt Regency Chicago, Grand A For my ALA schedule, the ACRL/SPARC Forum has been a “can’t miss” session for years. This year’s program is no exception, touching on the hottest topic of the year: “Understanding the Implications of Open Education: MOOCs and More.” Speakers include Kyle K. Courtney, Harvard Law Sch.; Cable Green, director of global learning, Creative Commons; and Deirdre Woods, interim executive director, Open Learning Initiative, Univ. of Pennsylvania.

Usability, the User Experience & Interface Design: The Role of Reference

Sun., Jun. 30, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP S403) User experience (UX) is one of those topics that’s hard to talk too much about—the more you embrace it, the more it filters into your everyday work. Reference is a perfect crucible for UX principles put into practice, and this session features a number of academic librarians discussing the connection between user research and iterative service refinement in a university library setting.

The New Reference Services: A Refdesk-Shattering Discussion

Sun., Jun. 30, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP N132) At the Public Library Association 2012 conference, a session title noted that reference is “On Life Support, but Not Dead Yet.” This session looks to continue the reference narrative reboot and purports to delve “into the who/what/where/how of contemporary reference work.” Featuring an all-star cast: Todd Dunkelberg, (director, Deschutes PL), Stephanie Chase (director of library programs and services, Seattle PL), and Sue Banks (deputy director, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh).

Collection Development & Community Expectations: Managing Collections and Balancing Resources in an Era of Budgetary Constraints

Sat., Jun. 29, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP S403) In today’s tight economy, with many budgets stalled or cut, libraries are learning to do more with less. Come hear how librarians from a range of institutions, both public and academic, have met the challenge.

Long e-Overdue

Sat., Jun. 29, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP S401) Who says librarians can’t challenge the big guys in the ebook marketplace? Cutting-edge librarians Monique Sendze (Douglas Cty. Libs.), Heather Teysko (Califa Group), Michael Porter (Library Renewal), and Henry Bankhead (Los Gatos PL) argue that libraries can and should drop the licensee stance in favor of “owning” the e-content they convey.

Busting the Comics Code: Comics, Censorship, & Librarians

Sun., Jun. 30, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP N128) Once maligned, comics are now accepted as good reading. Librarians who still face challenges on the comics front will be interested in learning context from comics champion Carol Tilley, GSLIS, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and hearing a host of panelists who will include creators, librarians, and a representative from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Measuring Up: Developing New Metrics for Assessing Library Performance (CORS)

Mon. Jul. 1, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCP S103b-c) Traditional measures of library performance like collection size and reference questions answered just aren’t measuring up anymore. Hear Rachel Fleming-May from the IMLS-funded Lib-Value (Value, Outcomes, and Return on Investment of Academic Libraries) project and Kathy Rosa, director of the ALA Office of Research and Statistics discuss new ways to show how effective your library really is.

Libraries Building Bridges: Best Practices and Advice for Serving Your Latino Communities

Sat., Jun. 29, 10:30–11:30 a.m. Palmer House Hilton, Spire Parlor Moderated by REFORMA president Denice Adkins, this program will use the Lightning Talk Format, with REFORMA librarians from a wide range of institutions each presenting 20 slides, 15 seconds a slide, to reveal smart and innovative ways to reach the Latino community.

I am going to ALA annual in Chicago with the intention of positioning myself to pursue two editorial strands that are important for LJ: diversity and building design. Although I frankly haven’t worked out all the details of my schedule yet and where the inevitable conflicts are, these two tracks are going to be my focus as much as possible. When not talking to librarians at sessions or elsewhere, I will be on the floor talking to and meeting with vendors.


On diversity, LJ can do a better job advocating and supporting efforts to diversify the profession. To this end, I not only want to hear what various groups at ALA have to say on the topic, but I also want to interview people directly and develop more contacts. The focus is more on the profession than the patron. I’m planning to attend in August the National Conference of African American Librarians organized by the Black Caucus of ALA (BCALA), but while at ALA I will also likely try to attend BCALA’s membership meeting on Sunday, at 7 p.m. Other programs on my radar:

In Visibility: Race and Libraries

Sun., Jun. 30, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP S103d)

Diversity officers discussion group (LLAMA)

Sun., Jun. 30, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP S505b)

REFORMA’s general membership meeting

Mon. Jul. 1, 10:30–11:30 a.m. Palmer House Hilton, Spire Parlor


On the building design front, LJ has identified through analytics that this is an area of high interest among our readership. We stage a design institute twice a year; we just finished the spring version in Seattle, and the fall event is going to take place in St. Louis. We also publish biannually our Library by Design supplement as well as our annual architecture issue. Building design is a very fruitful ground editorially, with a combination of frontline problems along with aesthetic and philosophical considerations. A number of programs scheduled at ALA have caught my eye:

10 Steps to a Better Library Interior

Sat., Jun. 29, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP S102bc)

The Sacred and the Profane: The Library and Campus Identity in the 21st Century

Sat., Jun. 29, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP S105)

Award Winning Interior Design: What Worked and What Didn’t

Sun., Jun. 30, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP S404a)

ALA/AIA Library Building Awards

Mon., Jul. 1, 1:30–4 p.m. Chicago AIA Offices, 35 E. Wacker Dr.

Beyond Genre: Exploring the Perception, Uses, and Misuses of Genre by Readers, Writers, and Librarians

Sat., Jun. 29, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCP S404d) Penguin Library Marketing associate Dominique Jenkins and author Naomi Novik (His Majesty’s Dragon, Random House) talk about how organizing books by genre has become increasingly difficult as boundaries and crossovers occur (steampunk romance, anyone?) and what that means for libraries and readers. Novik, who has written an alternate history of the Napoleonic Wars with dragons, is sure to have something interesting to contribute.

Science Fiction: The Factual and the Counterfactual

Sat., Jun. 29, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP S105a-c) Another genre program: just what makes science fiction science fiction? A panel of sf writers whose output ranges from “Star Wars” to speculative fiction unpacks just how big the genre is and what pulls it together. The panelists: Brandon Sanderson (“Mistborn”), Cory Doctorow (Homeland), David Brin (“Uplift”), Elizabeth Bear (Shattered Pillars), John Scalzi (“Old Man’s War”), and Timothy Zahn (“Thrawn Trilogy”).

Leading Readers to Water…Guerilla Marketing for RA

Sun., Jun. 30, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCP S402a) Four librarians from Illinois’s Schaumburg Township District Library—Helen Stewart, Kate Niehoff, Nancy McCully, and Susan Gibberman—talk shop about how to lure reluctant patrons toward reading more and how best to market a library’s collection.

Conversation Starters: Tumblarian 101; Tumblr for Libraries and Librarians

Mon., Jul. 1, 8–8:45 a.m. (MCP S102d) Take a peek into Tumblr’s thriving library community. Join Rachel Fershleisher, who manages literary outreach at Tumblr; Kate Tkacik, an LJ 2013 Mover & Shaker and author of the popular library Tumblr,; Erin Shea, head of adult programming at Darien Library and creator of the library’s Tumblr (; and me (I run LJ’s Tumblr at, as we talk about what Tumblr is, what libraries and librarians are doing there, and why it matters.

GenLit & Genre X: Collections and Programming for 20- and 30-Somethings

Mon., Jul. 1, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCP S402b) I will go to nearly any program where a demographic I belong to (in this case, twenty- and thirtysomethings) is the topic of conversation. Illinois librarians Jennifer Czajka and Rebecca Malinowski (Oak Park PL) and Jennifer Asimakopoulos (Indian Prairie PL) address how they’ve lured us younger adults into libraries through innovative programs, collections, and marketing.

Collection Management in Public Libraries Interest Group

Mon., Jul. 1, 1–2:30 p.m. Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Regency Ballroom B Librarians gather to discuss the transformation of public library collections and what this means for the future of development, management, and assessment. Come learn more about the role of ebooks from professional collection curators.

From Outputs to Outcomes: Measuring What Matters

Sat., Jun. 29, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP S105d) What kind of data supports and accurately shows what 21st-century libraries do? This program will discuss the basics of data collection in terms of what is collected and why, what options for effective measurement are already being used, and how the information presented in the right way can positively show the library’s impact on the community. Jan Sanders will lead Denise Davis, deputy director, Sacramento PL; David Singleton, director of libraries, Charlotte Mecklenburg Lib.; and Keith Curry Lance of RSL Research Group in this important and useful discussion.

Literary Tastes

Sun. Jun. 30, 8–10 a.m. (MCP S103b-c) Hear RUSA’s award-winning authors discuss their works and the craft of writing while enjoying the company of other librarian book lovers. All annual conference registrants are invited to participate. (See Authors & Celebrities)

The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The Discussion Continues

Sun., Jun. 30, 2013, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCP E351) Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, will anchor this discussion with library leaders featuring Emily Ford, David Lankes, and Marie Radford on how the Pew data will influence your library’s future.

The Elusive Library Non-User

Sun., Jun 30, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP S102b-c) Librarians know how to reach their users, but what about the nonusers? Speakers Donna Fletcher (Donna E. Fletcher Consulting, Inc.), Paula Singer (CEO/chief strategist, the Singer Group, Inc.), and Susan Bochenski (director, Lincolnwood PL Dist., IL) talk about getting nonusers to walk through the library door.

Ports in a Storm: Your Library as a Disaster Recovery Center.

Fri., Jun. 28, 8 a.m.–noon (MCP S404b-c) From Katrina to Sandy, libraries are increasingly both threatened by regionwide disasters themselves and a point of relief for emergency services and subsequent recovery, providing power, information, light, and heat and cooling for their cut-off patrons. This preconference features librarians who have been there and survived, teaching how to partner with emergency responders and better prepare their communities before disaster strikes.

Bleak New World: YA Authors Decode Dystopia

Fri., Jun. 28, 8–10 p.m. Sheraton Chicago Ballroom 5 Famous YA authors who grapple with some of the most disturbing futures out there explore the dystopian genre and why it is so wildly popular here and now. Led by moderator Ann Kelley, associate editor, Books for Youth, Booklist Publications, and including authors Cory Doctorow, Tor Teen: Macmillan; Lois Lowry, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers; Patrick Ness, Candlewick; and Veronica Roth, HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Culture House libraries: New Models for New Times

Sat., Jun. 29, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCP S402b) If expanding our brand beyond books while maintaining a coherent vision is the key challenge of the decade, libraries as a site of cultural transmission, creation, and conversation may hold the key. Librarians and architects explore the role libraries play in collocating and providing cultural programming. With speakers Alex Cohen, Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD; Jeffrey Scherer, CEO, MS&R Ltd.; Olaf Eigenbrot, senior head of user services, advisor for planning and construction, Univ. of Hamburg; Peter Bolek, Holzheimner, Bolek and Meehan, Architects; and Susan Gregory, director, Bozeman PL, MT.

Humanities in the Digital Era: Mashing Up Public Program with MOOCs, Media, and More

Sat., Jun. 29, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP E350) STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is not the only source of innovation that’s changing the library game. New Jersey’s Princeton PL is using today’s disruptive innovations to explore classical literature in a way that’s meaningful and relevant to a new audience. Moderated by Janie Hermann, public programming librarian, Princeton PL, with speakers Erinn Batykefer and Laura Damon-Moore.

Literary Texts and the Library in the Digital Age: New Collaborations for European and American Studies

Sat., Jun. 29, 1–2:30 p.m. (MCP S105d) Digital humanities may be an overused buzzword, but what technology can do for literary scholarship is very real. What is the changing role of subject specialist librarians in this new landscape and can they perhaps help bridge the gap between faculty and IT? Moderator: Patricia Thurston, team leader, specialty cataloging, Yale Univ., leads speakers Glen Worthey, digital humanties librarian, Stanford Univ.; Laura Mandell, director, Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture; Dept. of English, Texas A&M; Paula Kaufman, Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and university librarian, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

All About ARCs: The Ins and Outs of Requesting, Using and Abusing Advanced Reading Copies

Sat., Jun. 29, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCP S103d) Last year’s ARCgate seems to have provoked some soul-searching. Elizabeth Burns (New Jersey State Lib.; A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy blog at SLJ), Kelly Jensen (Beloit PL, WI) and Kristi Chadwick (Emily Williston Memorial Lib., MA, and an LJ reviewer) will discuss why publishers make copies available before publication, how to get your hands on these goodies, and associated do’s and don’ts.

Ignite Sat. Session: Creativity in Reference Service Provision; Beyond Answering Questions

Sat., Jun. 29, 11:30 a.m.–noon (MCP S102d) Recent innovations in reference services will be covered in this session by Eileen Abels and Lily Rozaklis (iSchool, Drexel Univ.) and Jennifer Lau-Bond (ipl2, Florida State Univ.) that promises to equip attendees with the tools to identify reference problem areas and ideas for solving them. Other “Ignite Sat.” programs in the same room at the same time cover, for example, professional networking, the question of whether library schools are properly preparing managers, and urban-teen post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ebooks in Europe and Beyond

Sat., Jun. 29, 3–4 p.m. (MCP S502) Gerald Leitner, secretary general of the Austrian Library Association and an EBLIDA (European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations) executive committee member, will talk about access to and use of ebooks in Europe and elsewhere. U.S. librarians can find out what their international colleagues are doing with these publications and learn about issues that might affect U.S. access to foreign-created and foreign-language titles.

Storytelling Mojo: Creating the 21st-Century Library Narrative

Sun., Jun. 30, 10:30 a.m.–noon (MCP S502) Michael Margolis, CEO of, describes how to impress upon funders and other important audiences the value of libraries and, most important, of your library through the power of stories.

How To Plan and Run a Successful Human Library: Promoting Understanding, One Conversation at a Time

Sun., Jun. 30, 3–4 p.m. (MCP N129) Sponsored by the Social Responsibilities Round Table, this presentation covers the fascinating phenomenon of libraries that loan people; patrons can broaden their horizons by “borrowing” a person with a different background with whom they might not normally have contact. Attendees will learn more about such programs and gain tips on starting their own.

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  1. Charmette Kendrick says:

    Thank you so much, Library Journal Editors, for promoting the Pura Belpre Celebracion which will be held on Sunday, June 30th at 1 pm in the HYATT-Grand A Ballroom. In addition to the wonderful winners David Diaz and Benjamin Alire Saenz we will have author Sonia Manzano, honnor award winner for her book, “The Revolution of Evelyn Serano.” She is also better known as “Maria” on Sesame Street. I grew up watching her and I can’t wait to hear what she as well as David and Ben will have to say as they accept their awards. As always, the Celbracion is a free event. I hope everyone will join us!

    Charmette Kendrick
    Chair, 2013 Pura Belpre Committee

  2. Thank you LJ for this Editor’s Choice list. It will come in handy in Chicago.