February 17, 2018

ALA in ATL | ALA Midwinter Preview 2017


From the opening session with political comedian W. Kamau Bell through the closing keynote by actor Neil Patrick Harris, the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting sets an ambitious agenda, tackling timely political issues such as how to work with the new presidential administration and Congress; ongoing social concerns like equity and inclusion; and how best to drive the continuing technological transformation of libraries on the one hand and accurately assess our successes—and learn from our failures—on the other.

The conference also intends to take on the future, with a three-day Symposium on the Future of Libraries held by ALA’s center of the same name and drawing on local innovators from beyond librarianship. As the first conference held since ALA announced it was rethinking its approach to conferences (though that effort is primarily focused on ALA annual), the meeting itself may serve as a harbinger of things to come.—Meredith Schwartz

Matt Enis

Senior Editor, Technology

Inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President (OITP)
Fri., Jan. 20, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
I’m not eager to watch this, but I want to hear ALA president Julie Todaro on how the association plans to work with the new administration and Congress.

UX in the Library (RUSA ETS)
Sat., Jan. 21, 1–2:30 p.m.
The User Experience (UX) Design Committee of the Emerging Technologies Section, Reference and User Services Association, will host this participant-led discussion of how libraries are using UX principles, design thinking, and technology to create better experiences for users online and in person.

Libraries Ready To Code (OITP)
Sat., Jan. 21, 3–4 p.m.
ALA and Google announced in April this effort to assay the current status of programming activities in U.S. public and K–12 libraries. This interactive panel will reflect on “the themes, opportunities, and challenges” they surfaced.

LITA Top Technology Trends
Sun., Jan. 22, 1–2:30 p.m.
This panel always offers insights into emerging technology trends that libraries should watch. Ken Varnum, University of Michigan Library, will moderate, and Cynthia Hart, Virginia Beach PL; Bill Jones, SUNY Geneseo Milne Library; Gena Marker, Centennial H.S., West Ada School District, Meridian, ID; and Meredith Powers, Brooklyn PL, are panelists.

Now You See It: Using Video and Virtual Technologies To Enhance Reference Services [Hot Topics] (RUSA ETS)
Sun., Jan. 22, 3–4 p.m.
“What do GoPros, Pokémon GO, Oculus, and Google Cardboard have to do with reference services?” this session asks. The Emerging Technologies Section of RUSA will host this three-part conversation on video reference services and ­virtual/augmented reality.

Kiera Parrott

Reviews Director, LJ & SLJ

Feminist Taskforce Meeting
Fri., Jan. 20, 7:30–9 p.m.
Though I’ve not been active in this group, this is an open meeting. Anyone interested in upcoming projects and activities is ­invited.

Improving Federal and State Policies To Support Family Engagement in Libraries
Sat., Jan. 21, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
What local and federal agencies should librarians partner with to maximize family library use? What existing laws and supports can we leverage? This policy deep dive is especially timely.

Moving the Field Toward Outcome Measurement: An Overview of PLA’s Project Outcome
Sat., Jan. 21, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
The true value of library service goes deeper than circulation statistics. We’ve been talking for some time about richer, more telling qualitative measurements. I’m eager to hear about the Public Library Association’s project and toolkit.

Breakout Session: Library Professionals Lead; Influencing the Agenda of the 45th President and the 115th Congress (Washington Office)
Sat., Jan. 21, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
Let’s get ready to mobilize for positive action. I hope to see many new and familiar faces at this breakout session.

Lisa Peet

Associate Editor, News

Developing a Research Agenda for 21st Century Libraries
Sat., Jan. 21, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
As part of ALA’s strategic planning process, its Office and Committee for Research and Statistics are creating a research agenda. Participants from all sectors will share perspectives on research issues in 21st-century libraries.

GEORGIA ON MY MIND (l.–r.) Opening keynoter W. Kamau Bell, auditorium speaker children’s author Susan Tan, closing keynoter Neil Patrick Harris. Harris photo by Robert Trachtenberg, Bell photo by John Novak/©Cable News Network Inc/A Time Warner Company/all rights reserved

GEORGIA ON MY MIND (l.–r.) Opening keynoter W. Kamau Bell, auditorium speaker children’s author Susan Tan, closing keynoter Neil Patrick Harris. Bell photo by John Novak/©Cable News Network Inc/A Time Warner Company/all rights reserved

Scholarly Communications Interest Group: Providing Long-Term Resources and Support for Open Access (ALCTS)
Sat., Jan. 21, 1–2:30 p.m.
As academic libraries become increasingly involved with open access (OA), creating sustainable initiatives can be challenging. The panel will explore issues around data and networking services, institutional repositories, open educational resources, copyright education, OA collection development policies, and open publishing.

Private Security and Civic Engagement: Tips from the Kansas City Public Library
Sat., Jan. 21, 3–4 p.m.
A staff member’s arrest and injury during a library event last spring raised critical issues at Kansas City Public Library, MO, and beyond. Director of public programming Steve Woolfolk, involved in the incident, and executive director Crosby Kemper III will discuss security and the library’s role in fostering difficult conversations.

Mapping the Landscapes: Professional Development for Cultural Heritage
Sun., Jan. 22, 1–2:30 p.m.
Since 2015, the Mapping the Landscape project has been documenting continuing education and professional development needs across libraries, archives, and museums. This session will examine what they’re learning and what to expect going forward.

Aspen Institute Action Guide and ICMA Library Survey: Insights for Developing Community Engagement Strategies
Sun., Jan. 22, 3–4 p.m.
Find out how librarians, educators, and local leaders engage with their communities using the Action Guide for Re-Envisioning Your Public Library and hear results of the ICMA–Aspen Institute survey of city/county administrators on the role of public libraries in advancing community goals.

Meredith Schwartz

Executive Editor, LJ

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Creating a New Future for Library Collections
Fri., Jan. 20, 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
This symposium will look into how these values play into acquisitions, access, management, preservation, metadata, and open access.

LITA Diversity and Inclusion Committee—Kitchen Table Conversation
Sat., Jan. 21, 4:30–5:30 p.m.
This event focuses on developing inclusive programming and services and attracting and retaining diverse membership. In the context of the tech field’s ongoing problems, it’s more vital than ever.

Leadership Development Seminar: Failure as Opportunity—Leading Your Organization Through Crisis (Including Change) (LLAMA)
Sun., Jan. 22, 8:30–10 a.m.
Change, crisis, and failure are experiences few library leaders volunteer for—and few can escape entirely. Learning how to make lemonade seems like a skill worth sharing.

Adult Program Swap Meet
Sun., Jan. 22, 3–4 p.m.
This fun, interactive program concept should send librarians home with actionable new ideas—and a list of colleagues with whom to keep in touch.

Stephanie Sendaula

Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

Services for Job Seeking Patrons
Sat., Jan. 21, 1–2:30 p.m.
The RUSA Reference Services Section will discuss tools and tech to help un- and underemployed patrons navigate the job market, including a brainstorm session.

Money Smart Week: Providing Financial Literacy Programs for Your Patrons
Sat., Jan. 21, 3–4 p.m.
In 2016, more than 1,000 libraries (public, school, academic, and prison) participated. Learn how to get involved.

Racial Justice at Your Library hosted by Libraries4BlackLives
Mon., Jan. 23, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
This conversation, moderated by 2016 LJ Movers & Shakers Amita Lonial and ­Jessica Anne Bratt, will allow attendees to share resources for engaging libraries and communities in social justice work.

Are You a Proactive or Reactive Advocate? Best Practices from Academic and Public Library Supporters (RUSA, United 4 Libraries)
Mon., Jan. 23, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
Advocacy is an ongoing challenge. I’m also hoping to learn how public and academic libraries have proved their worth to stakeholders in the wake of budget cuts.

This article was published in Library Journal's December 1, 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

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