Conferences and Workshops
Midwinter Meeting 2009
“Poverty is not created by poor people; poverty is created by the system, the way we build it,” said Muhammad Yunas, keynote speaker at Jim Rettig’s President’s Program at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver. Yunus, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and author of Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle against World Poverty, told the amazing story of his groundbreaking work to help the poorest of the poor in Third World countries break the cycle of poverty through micro-loans from the Grameen Bank, which he founded. Additional Grameen initiatives bring telephone service, Internet access, and renewable energy to poor areas.
Jim Rettig and Muhammad Yunus meet backstage at the President’s Program.
Rettig noted that libraries make micro-loans—“gifts, really”—of knowledge that help people transform their lives, improve their well-being, and literally develop their local economies.
Author Jim Sheeler spoke on the impact of the Iraq war at home.
More than 10,220 librarians and library supporters attended some 2,000 meetings during the Association’s annual business meeting, and some 500 technology vendors and publishers filled the exhibition hall, enabling attendees to examine firsthand a wide variety of information-industry products. Speakers and discussion forums added variety to the meeting, while Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jim Sheeler delivered the 10th annual Arthur Curley Memorial Lecture.
Each morning, attendees rose early to attend lively and innovative Sunrise Speakers sessions, which featured Leigh Rubin, Dom Testa, Kevin Anderson, and Richard North Patterson.
The ALA Youth Media Awards Press Conference was again webcast live; the event was also “tweeted” for the first time. Deborah Taylor, Coretta Scott King Award chairperson, represented the Association on the Today Show, along with Newbery Medalist Neil Gaiman, who won for The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2008), and Caldecott Medalist Beth Krommes, who won for The House in the Night (Houghton Mifflin, 2008). The awards received extensive national media coverage, with results covered by National Public Radio, USA Today, the New York Times, and more than 300 other newspapers and online news outlets through the Associated Press.
The new William Morris Award made headlines for being the first youth media award that offered a short list. News organizations across the country, including the Associated Press, picked up the story, and it was noted on the CNN Headline News news ticker and hundreds of news websites.
The Library and Information Technology Association offered one preconference workshop, “User Centered Design for Digital Projects,” presented by Brenda Reeb, of the River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester (N.Y.). LITA also held its Town Meeting, which built on the strategic thinking sessions from the previous year and gave members a chance to discuss the organization’s role in the larger information, association, community-building, and technology-related landscape. LITA President-elect Michelle Frisque led the meeting, which was facilitated by R2 Consulting’s Matt Barnes.
The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) held two institutes in conjunction with the meeting: “Behind the Genealogy Reference Desk” and “ILL—Everything You Always Wanted to Know.”
The Young Adult Library Services Association offered a full-day institute, “Reaching Today’s Diverse Teens,” focusing on how to work with today’s generation of teens, one of the most ethnically diverse in history. Speakers discussed ways to identify all the teens in a service area and suggested interactive, innovative ways to reach them. YALSA also hosted a social event Friday night, a Mixer and Tech Playground with more than 100 attendees coming to sample tech tools such as micro-blogs, social networking sites, virtual reference, and games.
Thomas S. Blanton spoke on “The Secrecy Hangover.”
Almost 29,000 librarians and library supporters attended ALA’s Annual Conference July 9–14, held at the McCormick Place convention center in downtown Chicago. The total of 28,941—the largest on record—included 22,762 attendees and 6,179 exhibitors.
Jim Rettig’s President’s Program focused on the need to restore connections between the federal government and the people. Thomas S. Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, spoke about “The Secrecy Hangover,” discussing the loss of access to government information, evaluating actions of the Obama administration, and writing a prescription for additional actions the federal government needs to take to provide the sort of access to government information that free people in a democracy deserve.
The keynote at the Opening General Session was delivered by the former CEO and chairman of Playboy Enterprises, Christie Hefner, a passionate advocate of freedom of expression, social justice, and equal rights and opportunities for women. Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times columnist and author of The Soloist, was the Closing General Session speaker.
Christie Hefner delivered the keynote address.
At the Opening General Session and throughout the conference, librarians paid tribute to the memories of former ALA president E.J. Josey and Judith Krug, longtime director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
Noted journalist and political commentator Cokie Roberts made the keynote presentation at the 2009 Public Library Association President’s Program. In addition, the PLA sponsored 20 programs and three preconferences.
Chicago proved to be a solid market as well: The Public Information Office secured placements with local print, radio, and television media; interview topics ranged from conference programs to the value of libraries and librarians and the surge in library use during tough economic times. More than 115 reporters and producers were on site, including those from C-SPAN, WGN-TV, the CBS Sunday Morning News, HARPO Radio, Chicago Public Radio, the Pioneer Press, and many other library and education trade press.
An op-ed piece in the Chicago Sun-Times drafted by the PIO on behalf of ALA President Jim Rettig and Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey focused on the resources available in libraries that can help patrons cope with the downturn in the economy. The PIO also secured live in-studio interviews. WGN Radio’s “Noon Show with Bob Sirott” featured Rettig and host Steve Bertrand, who discussed the value of libraries and conference programs, and “The Nick Digilio Show” included a segment with ALA President-Elect Camila Alire that focused on the value of libraries. CLTV, the 24-hour cable news station that reaches 1.5 million households, shadowed “Libraries Build Communities” volunteers as they planted a new garden for the Academy for Global Citizenship School. Rettig and volunteers talked with the news crew about the value of libraries and how librarians and staff make a difference in the communities that they serve.
Melba Pattillo Beals
Participants this year also had the opportunity to attend the conference from their desktops via ALA’s new Virtual Conference. ALA offered 10 interactive Web sessions July 13 and 14 at the closing of the conference in Chicago. Attendees were able to interact with speakers and other attendees during each of these hour-long sessions on a variety of topics. These programs from ALA’s Washington Office, the Office of Intellectual Freedom, and several other offices and divisions covered topics such as accessing stimulus money for broadband deployment, “greening your library,” and best customer service.
And as usual, the Annual Conference was both one large gathering and many small ones at which ALA divisions, offices, and others had an opportunity to showcase their talents and their progress to colleagues from across the nation and beyond.
American Libraries sponsored the Annual Conference Auditorium Speaker Series speech by Wanda Urbanska, host of television’s Simple Living. Urbanska urged libraries to stay at the center of change, arguing that they are inherently green because of their role in helping reduce consumption: “Reclaim your role as eco–role models and exemplars in your community,” she said.
For the third year in a row, the Association for Library Service to Children’s Charlemae Rollins President’s Program was part of ALA’s Auditorium Speaker Series. This year’s speaker was Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the original Little Rock Nine who in 1957 faced angry mobs while the U.S. National Guard escorted her into a school that was being integrated for the first time. St. Ailbe’s children’s choir opened the program with songs from the civil rights movement.
Other speakers included authors Tracy Kidder, Gregory Maguire, Steve Lopez, Michael Connelly, James Van Praagh, Lisa Scottoline, Jill Bolte Taylor, and James Ellroy.
At the ALSC Newbery/Caldecott Banquet, more than 1,100 attendees celebrated Newbery Medal winner Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book, Caldecott Medal winner Beth Krommes for The House in the Night, and Wilder Medalist Ashley Bryan.
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards celebrated 40 years of honoring the best African American authors and illustrators of books for children and youth. More than 700 people attended the annual Coretta Scott King Book Awards Breakfast to celebrate winners Kadir Nelson, We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, and Floyd Cooper, The Blacker the Berry. Shadra Strickland, illustrator of Bird, received the Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe New Talent Award.
YALSA offered a full-day preconference, “Genre Galaxy: Exploring the Universe of Teen Reading,” which focused on various genres for teens, including science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, mystery, and romance, with sample programs and literacy activities. Notable YA authors appeared, including James Kennedy, Dom Testa, Simone Elkeles, Patrick Jones, Libba Bray, Holly Black, and David Lubar.
More than 60 state-level coordinators from 46 states attended the American Association of School Librarians’ all-day summit, Training4Trainers (T4T), held to support the development of customized state-level implementation strategies for the AASL’s learning standards and program guidelines. The cost of the all-day summit was partially underwritten by a donation from the Verizon Foundation/Thinkfinity.org.
The Association of College and Research Libraries offered one preconference, “Instructional Design for Librarians: The What, Why, and How of ID,” along with programs “Closing the Gap: Making Information Literacy Seamless Across K-16” and “Bringing the Immersion Program Back Home.”
LITA presented two preconferences: “A Thousand Words: Taking Better Photos for Telling Stories in Your Library” and “Creating Library Web Services: Mashups and APIs.”
The Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies offered two popular preconferences, nine programs, and two special events, covering a range of topics including customer service the Trump Entertainment Resorts way, funding for digitization, major trends in the LibraryServices and Technology Act, the newest trends in physical delivery and large print, revitalizing the library experience, making the most of collaboration and innovation, and career opportunities in correctional libraries.
More than 400 turned out for YALSA’s fashion show and happy hour hosted by Steven Rosengard of the TV show Project Runway. Disney-Hyperion Books sponsored the sold-out event, which featured YALSA members sporting the latest in library fashion as well a professional makeover.
YALSA’s Edwards Award Luncheon, featuring winner Laurie Halse Anderson, drew more than 220 attendees. The Morris Award Presentation and YA Authors Coffee Klatch featured Elizabeth C. Bunce, winner of the first Morris Award, as well as authors from YALSA’s Quick Picks and Popular Paperbacks lists. The breakfast sold out for the third year in a row; this year’s event limited attendance to 250, with 35 authors moving from table to table and discussing their books with attendees. And 400 people attended the 2009 Printz Program, featuring speeches from winner Melina Marchetta and the four honor book authors.
2009’s “Sunday Afternoon with LITA,” one of ALA’s most popular programming events, began with a Top Technology Trends Panel and culminated with the LITA President’s Program, featuring a keynote address by Erik Boekesteijn of Shanachie Tour fame. Together with colleagues Jaap van de Geer and Geert van den Boogaard, Boekesteijn took off from DOK Deflt Public Library in the Netherlands to tour North American libraries, documenting their trip in search of library innovation and best practices.
The Public Programs Office presented the LIVE! @ your library Reading Stage with a special focus on poetry, offering readings from award-winning, popular, and up-and-coming poets. The National Endowment for the Arts provided funding. Featured authors and poets included Sherman Alexie, Jane Hirshfield, Cristina Henriquez, Marlon James, Ed Bok Lee, and Sara Paretsky. The PPO also hosted an array of well-attended programs to help librarians develop cultural programs for their communities, including “Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience,” “Picturing America in Public Libraries,” “Exciting NASA Materials for Libraries,” “Great Programs with Poets and Poetry,” “PRIME TIME Family Reading Time: A Model Program for Strengthening Families and Building Communities,” and “Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story.”
Five hundred library supporters turned out for a sold-out evening with National Public Radio’s “Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!” show to raise funds for the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations. The show, which has a weekly listenership of 2.5 million, featured comedian and ALTAFF spokesperson Paula Poundstone, along with fellow panelists Adam Felber and Julia Sweeney, judge and scorekeeper Carl Kassell, and host Peter Sagal. Other sold-out ALTAFF events included a Gala Author Tea and “The Laugh’s On Us!” comedy panel. In addition, Poundstone gave a champagne toast in celebration of ALTAFF at ALA’s Membership Pavilion in the Exhibit Hall.
ALA’s Executive Board approved the establishment of the Library Support Staff Certification program, the first national, voluntary certification program of its kind. Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the program next moves to a testing phase in five library organizations across the United States.
For the fourth straight year, librarians and library workers made a difference while attending the ALA Annual Conference. One hundred volunteers participated in “Libraries Build Communities,” fanning out to nine schools on the south side of Chicago, where they worked to spruce up the facilities inside and out and helped the understaffed school media specialists reorganize and update their collections.
The 5th Annual Empowerment Conference attracted more than 200 attendees to its day-and-a-half of programming on the theme “Who’s Da Boss: Leadership for Library Support Staff.” Cosponsored by Conference Services and the Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment, the conference began with welcome breakfast and kickoff featuring keynoter Al Gini speaking on “Lincoln’s Ten Critical Tasks of Leadership.” The conference offered 13 concurrent sessions; among the highlights was “Lunch with the Famous First Ladies,” in which performer Jenny Riddle portrayed three remarkable American women.
Hundreds came together July 10 for the annual Many Voices, One Nation program, which this year featured novelist Nami Mun, author of Miles from Nowhere; spoken-word artist George Watsky; poet, children’s author, and librarian Janice Harrington; playwright, poet, and writer Ed Bok Lee, author of Real Karaoke People; and poet Rachel Zucker, author of The Bad Wife Handbook and creator of “Starting Today: Poems for the First 100 Days.” Attendees also enjoyed performances by Hooked on Drums, an urban youth group performing African djembe drumming. Now in its fifth year, the program brings together writers and artists from different perspectives and presents a rich program of spoken word, music, and performance art that celebrates the many unique cultures sharing one world.
With more than 300 attendees, the 12th Annual Diversity Fair showcased more than 30 participants around the theme of “Service to Older Adults.” The event, organized by the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services 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 third year, OLOS and the Subcommittee on Bookmobiles presented the Parade of Bookmobiles. This year’s parade featured 21 vehicles from across the country. The parade provides an opportunity to showcase libraries’ ability to reach rural and other communities where access to library facilities is a challenge.
The 2009 Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture was presented by Kathleen Mayo, head of outreach services for the Lee County (Fla.) Library System. Mayo’s presentation, “The Challenges and Opportunities of Serving America’s Elders,” examined the American population as it ages and how libraries are responding to the reality of true lifelong learning. The lecture honors the first director of OLOS for her leadership in focusing the association’s attention on issues affecting those traditionally underserved and underrepresented in libraries.
The Association for Library Collections and Technical Services continued a series of meetings on its organizational structure with “Creating Our Future,” a forum attended by 75 members. The series had begun with a facilitated discussion at Midwinter in Denver.
James Cuno, president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago, discussed issues that have caused debate for centuries at the 2009 ALCTS President’s Program, “Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle over Our Ancient Heritage.” The program was sponsored by Elsevier.
The Office for Intellectual Freedom highlighted its Conversation on Privacy campaign at the program “Privacy in an Era of Change: Privacy and Surveillance Under the New Administration.” Panelists Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, David Sobel, senior counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Craig Wacker, program officer for the Digital Media and Learning initiative of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, discussed the delicate balance of privacy, security, and civil liberties in today’s digital age.
A crowd of more than 60 joined the Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee and the PPO for a fundraiser to benefit the ALA Cultural Communities Fund at the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre. In addition to raising money for the CCF, an important goal for the evening was to showcase the kind of high-quality arts and humanities programs that the CCF enables libraries to present to their communities. Following a cocktail reception, guests were treated to a high-energy performance of 500 Clown and the Elephant Deal. After the performance, which received a standing ovation, director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig led the crowd in a spirited discussion with the cast and composer.
Booklist events drew good crowds and included the first annual Booklist Online Forum, “Books and Blogs: Made for Each Other?” moderated by Senior Editor Keir Graff with panelists Mary Burkey, John Green, Kaite Mediatore Stover, and Nora Rawlinson. The Booklist Books for Youth Program “Celebrating Abraham Lincoln” featured editor Jean Feiwel and authors Russell Freedman, Candace Fleming, and Deborah Hopkinson, who discussed their books on the 16th president. The Booklist Reference Books Bulletin Editorial Board Program, “Rethinking the Reference Collection,” was a Q&A session moderated by RBB Editorial Board Chair Sue Polanka and featuring Barbara Bibel, reference librarian, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library; Sara Kelly Johns, library media specialist, Lake Placid (N.Y.) Middle/High School; and Dave Tyckoson, associate dean, Henry Madden Library, California State University–Fresno, as panelists.
The RUSA President’s Program, “From the Book and Beyond: Interdisciplinary Readers’ Advisory,” was the inaugural session of the Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Forum, a new RUSA initiative in which ideas, best practices, and creative possibilities are actively engaged and deconstructed to help advance RA service. Themes included the changes in genre fiction and the DNA implications of reader-driven tagging; speakers were Nora Rawlinson, co-founder and editor of EarlyWord.com and former editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly; Susan Chun, founder of Steve: The Museum Social Tagging Project; and Nathan Altice, adjunct professor of sound communication at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Other conference offerings
ALSC Institute draws more than 250 to Salt Lake City
The 2008 Association for Library Service to Children National Institute drew 258 attendees to Salt Lake City, Utah, September 18–20, 2008. The Institute featured three tracks—Technology and Children’s Services, Programming in the New Millennium, and Inspiring Lifelong Reading—and included presentations by nationally known children’s authors and illustrators Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Sharon Creech, William Joyce, and Christopher Paul Curtis.
Salt Lake City serves as site for LITA National Forum
The 12th Annual Library and Information Technology Association National Forum, with the theme “Open & Mobile,” was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 1–4, 2009. Keynote speakers included Joan K. Lippincott, of the Coalition for Networked Information;David Weinberger, author of Everything Is Miscellaneous; andLiz Lawley, of the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology. Two preconference workshops were offered: “The Future of Mobile,” by Jason Griffey, head of library information technology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; and “Accessibility Update: Section 508 and WCAG in a Library 2.0 World,” by Nina McHale, assistant professor and Web librarian at the Auraria Library in Denver.
PLA’s Boot Camp 4 draws record number
The Public Library Association’s fourth “Boot Camp,” held October 20–24, 2008, in Cleveland, drew a record 76 attendees. The weeklong interactive workshop is designed to teach practical library management skills and also provide an overview of all the publications in the PLA Results series. Topics included strategic planning, data-based decision making, effective resource allocation, and change management. Boot Camp 4 was presented by Sandra Nelson and June Garcia, both authors of books in the Results series.
More than 600 attend YALSA’s first symposium
More than 600 librarians, educators, authors, and supporters of young adult literature gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, in November 2008 for the Young Adult Library Services Association’s inaugural Young Adult Literature Symposium, which carried the theme “How We Read Now.” The symposium began with a sold-out preconference on manga and graphic novels that included 2007 Printz Award winner Gene Luen Yang and Dramacon author Svetlana Chmakova; other events included a kickoff session, breakout sessions, a happy hour, and a genre luncheon. After the closing general session, which featured authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, many attendees gathered for a tribute to William C. Morris, whose endowment helped fund the symposium. Sponsors for the 2008 Young Adult Literature Symposium were: the American Civil Liberties Union, Capstone Publishers, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Yen Press, Pop Goes the Library, and Scholastic.
Divisions sponsor second gaming symposium
A second successful ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium took place in Chicago in November 2008, in collaboration with several divisions and sponsored in part by the Verizon Foundation. Keynote speakers included Andrew Bub of GamerDad; Jon-Paul Dyson, vice president for exhibit research and development and associate curator at the Strong National Museum of Play; Lawrence Kutner, author of Grand Theft Childhood; and Marc Prensky, author of Don't Bother Me Mom, I'm Learning.
ACRL National Conference
More than 4,300 library staff, exhibitors, speakers, and guests from every state and 22 countries met in Seattle March 12–15, 2009, for the 14th National Conference of the Association of College and Research Libraries. Combined with the more than 350 people participating online through the ACRL 2009 Virtual Conference, the Seattle conference had the highest combined registrant participation ever for an ACRL National Conference, with 3,263 face-to-face and virtual attendees. The conference offered more than 300 programs that explored the changing nature and roles of academic and research libraries and librarianship. Poster sessions and the second offering of the Cyber Zed Shed also proved popular.
PLA 2009 Spring Symposium
Nearly 550 people attended the PLA’s 2009 Spring Symposium, which was held April 2–4, 2009, in Nashville, Tennessee. The symposium featured intensive day-and-a-half-long workshops including Everyday Library Ethics, Service Responses, Assessing the Quality of Public Library Statistics and Making the Most of Them, Today’s Library, New Library Technologies, and Current Library Issues.
First LITA Camp is “agenda-light unconference”
In May, more than 50 participants attended the first-ever Library and Information Technology Association Camp, an “agenda-light unconference” based on the increasingly popular “Bar Camps”—open workshops where content is provided by participants. Kickoff speakers Joan Frye Williams and John Blyberg began each “camp” day, but participants determined the topics and formats of the sessions, which included lightning talks on varied topics and “speed-geek” sessions covering user experience and next-generation reference on-site. Sessions were Tweeted by many participants, and outcomes are available on both the LITA Camp wiki and blog.
RBMS celebrates 50 years of preconferences
The ACRL Rare Books and Manuscripts Section held its 50th anniversary preconference, “ Seas of Change: Navigating the Cultural and Institutional Contexts of Special Collections,” June 17–20, 2009, in Charlottesville, Virginia, the site of the first RBMS preconference. More than 450 attendees gathered for the program, making it the largest event in RBMS history. Programming looked broadly at how special collections librarianship has evolved over the past half-century with respect to changes in social, cultural, technological, economic, and academic environments and—more importantly—the need to respond to such changes in the future.
ALSC offers new online courses
The ALSC successfully launched a cadre of e-learning courses, including: “The Technology-Enhanced Library Professional,” taught by Sara Fisher; “The Newbery Medal: Past, Present, and Future,” taught by Kathleen T. Horning, ALSC past president and past Newbery chair; “Reading Instruction and Children’s Books,” taught by Katherine Todd, adjunct professor at Manhattanville (N.Y.) College; “Sharing Poetry with Children,” taught by Sylvia Vardell, professor at Texas Woman’s University; and “The Tech-Savvy Booktalker,” taught by Nancy J. Keane, library media specialist, Rundlett Middle School in Concord, New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.ala.org/alsced.
U.S. delegation attends Guadalajara Book Fair
For the 10th straight year, ALA supported a large delegation of U.S. librarians to the Guadalajara Book Fair to interact with Latin American colleagues and review and select Spanish-language materials for their libraries. One hundred and fifty-seven librarians from public, academic, and school libraries were joined by ALA President Jim Rettig and President-elect Camila Alire. President Rettig made a presentation on “New Technologies, Citizen Empowerment, and Civic Life” to a packed audience at the University of Guadalajara Coloquio.
On the road with YALSA
The Young Adult Library Services Association began a new program known as the YALSA Road Trip, in which the division aimed to have a presence at every state library conference. Members volunteered to host booths, present programs (YALSA offered a choice of four prepared presentations), and hold social events for other YALSA members to connect. YALSA also placed low-cost ads in those areas in which YALSA membership is somewhat low.