February 17, 2018

Conference on the Ice | ALA Midwinter 2015

airplaneWhile 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 Meeting made that something of a mixed blessing—more than 19 inches of snow fell 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 arriving and departing Chicago’s airports on Sunday and Monday were canceled, forcing conference-goers to stay one, two, or even three days longer than originally intended—including much of the LJ staff.

Before the blizzard, though, Friday and Saturday saw robust traffic and a bumper crop of news. Among the many announcements, ALA partnered with the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) to study the behavior of library patrons, including their use of digital resources—joining efforts like those from the Pew Internet & American Life Project and LJ’s Patron Profiles—and marking the first joint survey by the organizations. The results will be released at ALA’s annual conference in June in San Francisco. The Knight Foundation revealed the winners of its library-focused News Challenge.

Among other notable industry news, EBSCO debuted Explora, a new EBSCOhost user interface for public and school libraries. Ingram heralded its entry into the library collection analytics market, “powered by” Above the Treeline’s Edelweiss, heretofore best known to the publishing side of the book ecosystem. (For more on this, see LJ‘s recent interview with Ingram’s newly named president and COO Shawn Morin.) And ProQuest announced a time frame for the long-awaited integration of its two ebook platforms—ebrary and EBL—into the new ProQuest E-Book Central, to debut this summer.

bookpileFor those who were able to make it to McCormick Place convention center, the show bravely went on over Sunday and Monday (rumors in the aisles of a travel ban having proven unfounded). Highlights included a stimulating dialog at A Conversation on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, convened by the Taskforce on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (which was established in the wake of controversy about holding ALA annual 2016 in Orlando, FL, despite the state’s application of its Stand Your Ground law). RSVPs for the event were so much more numerous than predicted that it had to be moved to a larger room. The ALA Office for Information Technology Policy convened a panel of library leaders for a thought-provoking discussion of the Policy Revolution! initiative—the exclamation point is important—behind its strategy to advance national policy. Other noteworthy moments included Monday’s 6:30 a.m. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration, with a keynote by Cornel West, followed by the Youth Media Awards and, later, a packed-room speech by Scott Bonner, director of the Ferguson Library, MO, which made headlines for remaining open to serve its community despite school closures and unrest in the wake of the Michael Brown verdict.

Watch this space for more Midwinter news as it thaws.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Executive Editor of Library Journal.



  1. Is this all the coverage LJ gives a national library conference? It snowed?

    • Frau Blucher says:

      There’s more than that here, Delia.

      1) It snowed.

      2) It inconvenienced vendors and LJ staff.

      3) ALA is partnering with BISG to do a study of information behavior. And by the way, LJ has a vendor-partnered service/series you can subscribe to. Here is a link so you can subscribe. We’d like you to subscribe, that why we mentioned it in the same breath as the groundbreaking Pew Internet & American Life Project to make it seem more impressive and authoritative than it is.

      4) Vendor news! Vendor news! Vendor news!

      5) Some other things happened, like four thing, and here’s a brief paragraph with no details on each of them.

    • Frau Blucher says:

      There’s your ALA Midwinter news. GOT IT? So stop bothering LJ already.

    • Meredith Schwartz says:

      Much more coverage is on the way, this is just our first look. The articles will be tagged with Midwinter 2015 to help navigate between them as they post. Hope this helps!

    • Bill Stevens says:

      Posting some info for you below.

  2. Midwinter is over. What was LJ staff doing for those ” one, two, or even three days” longer than they had originally intended to attend the meeting? It doesn’t seem like creating live or even stale content was on the menu.

    Wait, were you guys out sledding with vendors? It was beautiful sledding weather!

  3. There is a newfangled thing called the Internet, and it allows journalists to publish coverage live or even “one, two, or even three days” after a news event happens. You could even post coverage while you’re snowed in directly from your hotel room or a nearby coffee shop.

  4. Bill Stevens says:
  5. Bill Stevens says:
  6. Bill Stevens says:
  7. Bill Stevens says:
  8. Bill Stevens says:
  9. Bill Stevens says:

    The first several pages of the front page of American Libraries has an archive of what looks like live coverage of the conference: http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/homeview-temp.

    ALA also records many of the panel discussions and other sessions and makes them available for later viewing online. It doesn’t look like that’s available yet.