Conferences and Workshops

Midwinter Meeting in San Diego

Midwinter 2011 logoThe ALA Midwinter Meeting, held Jan. 7–11 in San Diego, drew 7,549 attendees and 2,561 exhibitors, offering librarians and library supporters a chance to discuss issues affecting the future of libraries and to examine the challenges facing them in troubled economic times.

Among the topics discussed at the meeting was the future of libraries in an increasingly digital world. One heavily attended event, hosted by the Washington Office, focused on the impact on libraries of e-books.

During “Turning the Page on E-Books,” panelist Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, declared that “the e-book thing has happened; it isn’t happening.” As evidence of the adoption of e-books, he noted that the last Barnes and Noble in San Francisco recently closed, following Borders stores into oblivion.

Kahle suggested that e-books can fit well with the core of library services. “What libraries do is we buy stuff and we lend it.…Let’s do our jobs, digitize what we have to, buy what we can, but make sure we’ve got great collections for our patrons.”

Ted Danson

Ted Danson

“Don’t focus on the negative and scary,” actor Ted Danson advised at Roberta Stevens’s President’s Program. The Emmy–award winning television and movie star and oceanic environmental activist warned of the perils of over-fishing, saying “the clock is ticking,” but “the problems are fixable.” Oceana, which Danson helped found and represents, has become the largest organization in the world focused solely on ocean conservation. Stevens also chatted with Danson about his career as an actor, best remembered for his starring role in the television series "Cheers." “I love going to work,” Danson said. “I love acting. When done right, it can be a noble profession.”

Michael K. Honey, professor at the University of Washington–Tacoma and author of "All Labor Has Dignity" (Beacon, 2011), a collection of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. on labor rights and economic justice, provided a powerful keynote address at the Martin Luther King Jr. Sunrise Celebration. This year’s celebration was themed “Everybody Can Be Great” and featured leaders from the Association, including President Roberta Stevens and Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels.

Newbery Medal winner Neil Gaiman and Nancy Pearl spent an afternoon discussing Gaiman’s "The Graveyard Book," which was the first book ever to win both Newbery and Carnegie Medals.

The ALA/ERT/Booklist Author forum featured glimpses into the minds of some of the most prominent of today’s authors, including David Levithan ("Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist"), Stewart O’Nan ("A Prayer for the Dying"), Armistead Maupin ("Tales of the City"), and Susan Vreeland ("Luncheon of the Boating Party").

The Sunrise Speaker Series included Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist (one of only 82 ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology) and creator of the Fox television hit Bones, now in its fifth season; and Andre Dubus III, the author of "Townie," "The Garden of Last Days," and "House of Sand and Fog" (an Oprah Book Club pick and a finalist for the National Book Award, also made into a well-received movie).

Richard Rhodes

Richard Rhodes delivers the
12th Annual Arthur Curley Memorial Lecture at Midwinter 2011

Journalist and historian Richard Rhodes delivered the Arthur Curley Memorial Lecture. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" said that the most precious moment in his life was when he taught his four-year-old daughter Kate (who, as an adult, was in the audience) to read. “One day in the middle of her favorite book (by Dr. Seuss), Kate understood” that those squiggles of ink on paper had meaning, and “a whole world of comprehension opened up to her right before my eyes.”

The sell-out workshop “Assembling a Consulting Toolkit: What You Need to Know to Become a Successful Library Consultant” was offered at Midwinter as well as at Annual Conference, helping almost 200 library professionals assess their consulting potential and providing them with the tools to launch their own consulting careers.

The ALA conference store moved to the exhibit floor for both Annual Conference and Midwinter. The new store floor plan allows for better integration of ALA Graphics, ALA Editions, and other divisions’ products, all in a more convenient location for attendees.

YALSA logoThe Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) offered the full-day “Teen Services and the Whole Library Experience Institute,” with speakers addressing how to collaborate with other areas of the public library to ensure that teens enjoyed top service, no matter which part of the library they visited.

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) presented "Collaborative Leadership," a full-day institute facilitated by educational leadership and technology expert Steven Baule. Attendees left the session prepared to plan and prioritize professional goals, acquire strategies in leadership and collaboration, articulate the importance of school library programs to administrators, recognize the challenges that affect the school library profession, and create an action plan to be a successful leader.

The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) offered two workshops: “Creating Library Web Services: Mashups and APIs,” presented by Jason Clark of Montana State University, and “Open Source CMS Playroom,” by Amanda Hollister of

The Public Library Association (PLA) hosted a day-long institute, “Public Libraries Survive and Thrive in the 21st Century.” Top library administrators and consultants offered bright ideas to help public libraries weather the current economic environment and grow strong into the future; topics included budget decisions, fundraising, technology, facilities, staffing, community collaborations, and customer service.

ASCLAThe Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) Virtual Convergence presented 22 webinars in four days following the 2011 Midwinter Meeting, offering those who did not attend events in San Diego an opportunity for some mid-year professional development. Topics covered included résumé writing and interviewing techniques, conducting successful virtual meetings, using extension programs to promote statewide resources, attracting Latinos to the library, the basics of making your library accessible to all library users, concepts and strategies for contract librarianship, assisting at-risk teenagers, the fundamentals of grant writing, and many other relevant topics.

Annual Conference in New Orleans

Five years after ALA held the first major convention in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, more than 20,000 librarians, library supporters, and exhibitors returned to the city for the 2011 ALA Annual Conference June 23–28.

Libraries Build Communities volunteers

Libraries Build Communities volunteers gather before heading
out to New Orleans

As with the 2006 Annual Conference, librarians ushered in the event by stepping up to provide community service. More than 220 volunteers gathered for “Libraries Build Communities,” a program that involved visiting 15 sites, including public and school libraries. The group shelved books, reorganized and updated collections, and entered data, among other activities. “Libraries Build Communities” was launched by the Chapter Relations Office in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and has since become an Annual Conference tradition.

“When the ALA first came to New Orleans in 2006, there was an unimaginable amount of work that needed to be done throughout the city,” said Michael Dowling, director of the ALA Chapter Relations Office. “In a few short days, the ALA was able to make a difference and illustrate that libraries do in fact build communities.”

Efforts to provide relief to schools were recognized at the AASL meeting during its President’s Program. AASL recognized the Dollar General School Relief project, which in five years had made grants totaling more than $1 million to more than 100 schools to replace books, media, and furniture damaged or lost in disasters.

Disaster preparedness was the focus of the ALA Washington Office Briefing. “It’s not a matter of if a disaster will happen; it’s simply a matter of when,” said panelist Katherine Zeringue, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Environmental Liaison Office. "Everyone, including libraries, needs to be prepared to work with response teams. It is not FEMA’s role to be the knight in shining armor."

Rebecca Hamilton, Louisiana’s state librarian, described how when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit in August 2005, the Louisiana State Library “was not prepared at all. Nothing that bad had ever happened before and we had no disaster plan.”

President's Program

ALA President Roberta Stevens asks questions
submitted by the audience to Sue Gardner,
executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation

Roberta Stevens’s President’s Program featured Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia. Gardner noted that Wikipedia staff “are lovers of the institutions of knowledge” and definitely libraries. The wiki is not opposed to traditional media, she said; in fact, “we want you as Wikipedians.” Gardner posited that Wikipedia has turned people into “more aware, more critical consumers of information.” Saying she was well aware that “we’re not perfect,” she emphasized that “the people in this room are the people who can make it better, and we want you to do that with us.”

Comedians Paula Poundstone and Andy Borowitz were among the featured authors at the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends, and Foundations’ (ALTAFF) annual event, “The Laugh’s On Us!” sponsored by Playaway. Poundstone, the ALTAFF national spokesperson, headlined the event, and Borowitz, author and magazine feature writer Jill Kargman, and writer Leila Sales rounded out the evening of laughter.

Dan Savage

Dan Savage delivers
the keynote address at the
Opening General Session

Opening General Session speaker Dan Savage, author of the syndicated column “Savage Love” and editorial director of Seattle’s weekly newspaper The Stranger, spoke about the growth of the “It Gets Better Project,” which addresses lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth—children who experience rough times and even bullying to the point of pushing them to suicide.

A standing ovation greeted the man Richard M. Nixon once called the “most dangerous man in America.” Daniel Ellsburg, who released “The Pentagon Papers,” told the audience at the “War and Secrecy” program that he regretted not releasing the documents earlier because it would have made a difference by exposing lies that had been used to justify the Vietnam War.


Daniel Ellsberg flashes a familiar sign

“Unfortunately, today we don’t have the Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan,” he said. He added that information contained in WikiLeaks releases has inspired mass movements and protests throughout the Middle East, as people learned the truth about corrupt dictators.

The Public Programs Office hosted six programs addressing issues in cultural and community programming, with topics including ideas for science programming, partnership opportunities, programming with the Picturing America collection, and maximizing the impact of library programs.

In cooperation with Poets House, the New Orleans Public Library, and the Audubon Zoo, the Public Programs Office (PPO) hosted more than 100 people at “The Language of Conservation at the Audubon Zoo.” Following a wine reception, attendees were treated to a guided tour through the zoo to see the Language of Conservation poetry installations, followed by a poetry reading by nationally acclaimed poet and Audubon Zoo Poet-in-Residence Mark Doty. The event was funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The PPO presented readings from 26 authors and poets on the LIVE! @ your library Reading Stage on the exhibits floor. More than 500 conference-goers took a break to enjoy live readings from many award-winning and up-and-coming authors and poets, including Doty, Daniel Handler, Tayari Jones, R. Zamora Lindmark, and Nalini Singh.

YALSA honored its award winners at the Edwards Luncheon and the Printz Reception and Program. YALSA also again hosted its YA Coffee Klatch event, where hundreds of attendees met authors who had appeared on YALSA’s selected booklists in a speed-dating format.

RUSAThe Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) President’s Program: "Marketing Reference on a Dime" featured a panel presentation of successful initiatives for marketing library reference services. Other topics included applying user experience to library public services, the business of social media and how librarians can help business owners leverage their social capital, and virtual reference.

RUSA also celebrated the winners of its achievement awards and travel and research grants. Those honored represented excellence in a variety of areas, including library service to the labor community, contributions to RUSA’s special interest sections, most outstanding article recently published in Reference & Services Quarterly, online history resources, and excellence in book reviewing, business librarianship, adult services, interlibrary loan, and reference.

PLAThe PLA President’s Program and Awards Presentation recognized the PLA 2011 award winners and hosted keynote speakers writer-producer David Simon and mystery author Laura Lippman.

In addition, PLA hosted a Mega Issue discussion on member engagement during the PLA All-Committee Meeting. The discussion was an interactive event led by a facilitator and offered public library professionals an opportunity to meet in person and provide input on the topics of leadership development and membership engagement.

For the second time, PLA also cosponsored “Consultants Giving Back,” an opportunity for attendees to meet one-on-one with nationally recognized library consultants for complimentary half-hour sessions. More than 15 consultants participated.

LITAThe Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) also offered its popular “Sunday Afternoon with LITA,” which began with a survey of top technology trends, was followed by the LITA Awards and Scholarships Reception, and closed with the LITA President’s Program, which featured technology consultant Bob Boucher discussing “Building the Future: Addressing Library Broadband Connectivity Issues in the 21st Century.”

The speaker for the Library Leadership and Management Association’s Annual President’s Program was Tim Duggan, landscape architect with Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation, speaking on “Community Beyond Housing.”

A standing-room-only program on student learning outcomes broke all known attendance records for a Committee on Accreditation program. The committee solicits input for the Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies on an ongoing basis through the Standards Review blog.

With more than 300 attendees, the 14th Annual Diversity and Outreach Fair showcased 28 participants highlighting diverse services, including library-based family literacy programs and library services to underserved or underrepresented communities. The event, organized by the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) and sponsored by DEMCO, celebrates extraordinary examples of diversity in America’s libraries and demonstrates possibilities for other libraries in search of “diversity-in-action” ideas.

For the fifth year, OLOS and the Subcommittee on Bookmobiles presented the Parade of Bookmobiles, bringing bookmobiles from across the country onto the exhibit floor. The parade provides an opportunity to showcase libraries’ ability to reach rural and other communities where access to conventional library facilities is a challenge.

Dr. Robert Wedgeworth

Dr. Robert Wedgeworth

The 2011 Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture was presented by Robert Wedgeworth, a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board, former ALA executive director, and president of ProLiteracy. Wedgeworth’s lecture, “The Future of Literacy in Libraries: Our Challenges, Our Opportunities,” explored why library literacy programs have not been more successful and how they might become more accountable, developing and replicating innovative strategies and demonstrating the impact of library literacy services to influence stakeholders and decision makers.

Paul Courant, University librarian at the University of Michigan, spoke on the theme “Economic Reflections on Libraries” at the ALCTS President’s Program.

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) programs “Bringing the Immersion Program Back Home,” “Making Information Literacy Instruction Meaningful through Creativity,” and “Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education: Introducing a New Interdisciplinary Information Literacy Standard for 21st Century Learners” provided focus on information literacy issues.

ALSCThe Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, held a coming-of-age ceremony gala for the Pura Belpré Award in honor of the award’s 15th anniversary. The "Quinceañera Celebración" featured the 2011 medal and honor Belpré authors and illustrators; also on hand were the madrinas and padrinos, or godparents, of the award.

The ALSC’s annual Charlemae Rollins President’s Program focused on the theme “How Libraries Can Best Serve Special Needs Patrons, Especially Those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)” and featured keynote speaker Ricki Robinson, a leader in developing multidisciplinary treatment plans for children with ASD. Joining Robinson in a panel discussion were authors Cynthia Lord and Francisco X. Stork, as well as librarian Patricia Twarogowski, who has been recognized for her effective programming for special-needs children.


AASL offered a complimentary preconference, “Disaster Preparedness for School Librarians,” featuring presenters with insight on disaster planning and disaster recovery; the program was made possible by the Dollar General Beyond Words Grant. ACRL preconference sessions provided information on action research and leadership strategies.

YALSA hosted two half-day preconferences: “Give Them What They Want: Reaching Reluctant YA Readers,” featuring authors Walter Dean Myers, Chris Grabenstein, Julie Halpern, Sarah Dessen, James Kennedy, Carolyn Mackler, and Jay Asher; and “The Nuts & Bolts of Serving Teens: Practical Tips for the Library Generalist or New YA Librarian,” with speakers Erin Helmrich, Mari Hardacre, and Jesse Vieau.

Nearly 200 attendees participated in “RDA 201: RDA Gets Real,” a two-day preconference from the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) on implementing RDA in libraries.

LITA offered three preconferences, “Getting Started with Drupal,” “User Experience Design for Websites,” and “Virtualize IT: Laying the Foundation for the Library of the Future.”

Other conferences

AASL brings 21st-century learning in focus at Fall Forum

AASLThe AASL held its 2010 Fall Forum November 5–6 in Portland, Oregon. "IN FOCUS: The Essentials of 21st-Century Learning" featured three breakout sessions with preeminent school library researches Gail Dickinson, Leslie Maniotes, and Ross Todd. The forum also included a keynote presentation by Paige Johnson, global manager of K–12 education for Intel’s Corporate Affairs Group, who addressed such questions as, “How do we make learning as relevant, rigorous, and meaningful inside of schools as outside?” and “What skills and competencies will students need to be successful and productive in the global economy?”

2011 PLA Virtual Spring Symposium

More than 675 online attendees took part in the Public Library Association’s first Virtual Spring Symposium March 30. The interactive event featured eight programs highlighting topics in technology, youth services, administration/leadership, and adult services. Special programs included a lunchtime interview with author Diane Ackerman ("A Natural History of the Senses," "The Zookeeper’s Wife") led by Booklist editor Donna Seaman, and a lively closing session, “The Sustainable Library,” with George Needham and Joan Frye Williams.

YALSA’s YA Lit Symposium

More than 400 librarians and library workers, educators, and authors gathered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the 2010 Young Adult Literature Symposium. Special events included four preconferences; the Bill Morris Author Luncheon, featuring speaker Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Coretta Scott King Award-winning author of "Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall"; the YA Authors’ Happy Hour, featuring more than 25 popular YA authors signing books; and a General Closing Session on intellectual freedom, featuring authors Ellen Hopkins and Lauren Myracle.

ACRL conference draws record registration

ACRLMore than 5,300 library staff, exhibitors, speakers, and guests from around the world met March 30–April 2 in Philadelphia and online for the ACRL 2011 conference. ACRL 2011 had the highest combined registrant participation ever for an ACRL conference, with 3,532 face-to-face and virtual attendees from all 50 states and 24 other countries. The conference offered more than 300 programs that explored the interdependency that exists in academic and library communities and the changing nature and role of academic and research librarians.

New to the conference this year was the "IdeaPower Unconference," a forum for the exploration of powerful ideas to transform academic libraries. Designed to be an exercise in the dynamic presentation of powerful ideas, about 20 presenters volunteered to share in a six-minute presentation an idea with the power to transform academic libraries. The ACRL continued its focus on new technologies by offering mobile conference schedules as well as SMS updates, a “text an expert” service, and an increased presence on Twitter through general conference, invited paper, panel, and Cyber Zed Shed session hashtags. Attendees were also able to check in at various ACRL 2011 locations via Foursquare.

LITA Forum theme: “The Cloud and the Crowd”

With the theme “The Cloud and the Crowd,” the LITA's 13th Annual Forum was held September 30 to October 3, 2010, in Atlanta. The keynote speaker, Amy Bruckman of the Georgia Institute of Technology, discussed “How Wikipedia Really Works, and What This Means for the Nature of Truth.” Roy Tennant of OCLC Research spoke at the general session about “Using the Cloud to Please the Crowd”; and the closing session was headlined by Ross Singer from Talis Information, who spoke about “The Linked Library Data Cloud: It’s Time to Stop Thinking and Start Linking.”

ACRL immersion programs

Fifty-three attendees participated in the ACRL’s Immersion Program Assessment and Intentional Teacher Tracks held November 10–14, 2010, in Nashville. The ACRL again held its popular Information Literacy Immersion Program, offering the Teacher and Program Tracks July 24 to 29 at Seattle University for 87 attendees.

Supporting scholarly communications

As part of the ACRL’s continuing efforts to promote scholarly communication, five sites were selected to host the Scholarly Communication 101: Starting with the Basics workshop. The ACRL is underwriting the costs of delivering the workshop by sending expert presenters on the road. In its third year, when the 2011 workshops were complete, the road show visited 13 different states and one territory.…Effective June 1 and lasting for 12 months, the ACRL has a new visiting program officer to support its scholarly communication initiatives. Joy Kirchner, scholarly communications coordinator at University of British Columbia Libraries, will play an integral role in ensuring the Scholarly Communication 101 workshop is sustainable and robust into the future.

Rare books section addresses collecting challenges

The ACRL Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) drew 307 registrants and 77 booksellers to its 52nd annual preconference June 21–June 24, 2011, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Themed “In the Hurricane’s Eye: Challenges of Collecting in the 21st Century,” the preconference explored the challenges of building and providing effective access to collections that will remain central in the future through sessions examining cultural stewardship, regional collecting, the value of special collections, and preservation and disaster recovery.

ALCTS Midwinter Symposium focuses on RDA

ALCTSThe ALCTS Midwinter Symposium addressed the role of the administrator in adopting RDA—Resource Description and Access. “The Administrator, RDA, and the Future Catalog” drew 86 attendees to hear from library directors, department heads, and other content experts on RDA and how it will affect the workplace and the future catalog.