Behzad Allahyar, Gary Beer, Angela Hand, Michelle Schrade, Angela (Slaughter) Dresselhaus, Israel Yanez each received SAGE Support Staff Travel Grant, which permitted them to attend their first ALA Annual Conference. Following are overviews of their experiences.
Persian and Arabic Language Specialist in Serials and E-resources cataloging, UCLA, Los Angeles
Attending the ALA Annual Conference was an experience that was very different than my many years working in the library. Firstly, I would like to thank ALCTS and SAGE Publishing and the Selection Committee for giving me that opportunity. I live in Los Angeles and when I was driving to Anaheim—about forty miles—had no idea what I was going to see. When I went to pick up my library badge, I was astonished by the large number of book publishers on exhibition, which brought me hope. I have been witnessing over the last two decades a number of book stores in the Los Angeles area that have gone out of business, but here I saw that book publishers are very active. For the next three days, I attended meetings related to cataloging, and since I am assigned as a CONSER cataloger, it was my first chance as a staff member to see other CONSER members after years of communicating only via email. In order to get to the CONSER meeting, which was in the Disney Hotel in the Magic Kingdom Hall, I had to walk through the crowded hall, filled with the excited voices of children and adults on the first floor that were getting ready to go to the “Land of Fantasy,” or Disneyland. Library meetings were taking place on the second floor. As I walked up the stairs, I heard no loud voices and the atmosphere was a stark contrast from the first floor. It was quiet. There was a library meeting in each room including a meeting of CONSER members. Finally I saw them and I felt the difference between the loudness of the fantasy on the first floor and calmness of the intellectualism on the higher level!
It was a challenge to choose among the meetings which related to cataloging. All the meetings that I attended in three memorable days were useful to me. I also got a few books with the author’s autograph for my daughter, who loves to read.
I wish to share the award with all of the hard working library staff members throughout the country. I’d also like to once again thank SAGE who facilitated the ALA attendance for some library assistants and for recognizing the huge number of invisible hard working staff members in libraries. Perhaps it is related to the main topic of their publishing materials: Humanities.
Senior Library Specialist, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois
First, my sincere thanks to ALCTS, SAGE Publications, and the SAGE Travel Grant Jury for this opportunity to attend the 2008 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, California. Special thanks are also extended to my supervisor Daren Callahan, Head of Cataloging, and Phil Howze, Reference Librarian, for their generous support in the application process, as well as the institutional support SIU Library Affairs provided.
Flash flooding at Marceline, Missouri delayed my train’s arrival to California. This was somewhat ironic since Marceline was the childhood home of Walt Disney and Anaheim’s Convention Center being located next to Disneyland. AMTRAK worked commendably mitigating the delay even providing ALA bound passengers direct transportation to Anaheim’s Convention Center upon arrival to Los Angeles very early Saturday morning.
Despite missing Friday’s ALCTS 101 orientation session, this turned out to be a minor setback. Even with the mammoth size of the conference ,navigating was very easy with the advance information and planning provided through my mentor, Rhonda Marker, as well as ALA’s very detailed website.
The first event that I attended on Saturday was the Allied Professional Association Committee’s “Salaries and Status of Library Workers Working Groups.” I was very impressed with the strategies APA discussed, as this is an area in which I have an active interest. I concluded the morning attending the ALCTS presentation “Removing the Fence: Merging Print and Electronic Serials Workflows.”
During lunchtime, I met with my mentor for a briefing on the rest of the conference events and activities. My itinerary continued with the Intellectual Freedom Round Table and Committee’s screening and panel discussion of the film “Freedom of Expression: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property.” Saturday’s activities concluded with a visit to the vendors and exhibits floor. Among the booths I visited were the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the United States Census Bureau. I made sure to stop by the SAGE Publications booth and met with their representatives, thanking them for their generous financial support.
Sunday morning’s itinerary included ALA’s Allied Professional Association “Better Salaries Breakfast,” and, to a standing-room-only crowd, the ALCTS program “Creating the Future Catalog and Cataloging.” In the afternoon, I attended the ALCTS program “Making the Switch from Print to Online: Why, When and How?”
The Sheraton Park Hotel on Sunday evening was the setting for the ALCTS awards ceremony. Manuel Urrizola, Sage Jury Chair, gave a wonderful speech introducing the SAGE Grant recipients. Each of us was presented a beautiful framed award that I was extremely honored to receive.
Sunday night concluded with the Ex Libris ALA Annual Customer Reception at the Jazz Kitchen in Disneyland Downtown. The complimentary food and drinks were excellent, plus this venue provided a nice view of the nightly Disneyland fireworks display to cap off the evening.
Monday morning featured the highlight and conclusion of my conference activities, which was to attend the ALCTS President’s Program “From here to Eternity: The Challenge of Managing Oscar’s Very Special Collections.” This program featured Linda Harris Mehr, Director, Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. With my strong interest in the visual arts, I most definitely want to visit this library sometime in the future if the opportunity permits.
Prior to departing for home some personal sightseeing included downtown Los Angeles and the Santa Monica Pier. My ALA experience which I would describe as impressive, has provided new knowledge, enhancing both my work and library support staff advocacy as chief union steward. Again, thanks to SAGE Publications and ALCTS for this wonderful experience.
Library Academic Technician, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas
As both a support staff member and a graduate student, I saw the ALA Annual Conference as an opportunity to anticipate the changes trickling down to other copy catalogers, and to sharpen my perception of what the future holds for the profession. The first program I attended was the “ALCTS 101: Write Here” event, where an informal gathering of technical services librarians made me feel right at home. After meeting my mentor, Deborah Ryszka, I sat down at the continuing resources table and found that I was among friends. We swapped tales of legendary title changes, commiserated on the rapidly changing divide between electronic and print, and formulated ground-breaking theories on the role of catalogers in the future digital age. And to think, it only took us thirty minutes! They made me feel like family, and the ability to talk about my job without watching anyone’s eyes glaze over was well worth the jet lag.
It was difficult to narrow down my choices for programs, but I was most eager to attend the session entitled “There’s No Catalog Like No Catalog.” As a newly enrolled MLIS student, I wanted to scout out the future of cataloging, or, as some of the panelists claimed, the lack thereof. They described how catalogers have reinvented themselves to meet this changing environment, and must continue position themselves for revolutions in budgets, demographics, and information management.
Another memorable program was the “Getting Ready for RDA and FRBR” session, where I literally had to sit on the floor with other librarians and take notes on what I could hear. From the few glances I could get of the presentation, it looked like an elegant approach to clarifying the organization of resources and their relationships to one another.
The most serendipitous moment was meeting a former friend from college who had just obtained a position as a librarian, but who had never worked in a library before. She was eager to ask me about my work experience, and in exchange, I asked her about graduate school. Networking with her and with the wonderful people at ALCTS helped to build up confidence in myself and in my field, and make connections with a team of diverse and exciting people. It was the chance of a lifetime, and I am especially grateful to them and to SAGE Publications for this experience.
Library Assistant, Glendale Public Library, Glendale, Arizona
I would like to thank everyone one involved with the SAGE Library Support Staff Travel Grant. Thank you to SAGE Publications and ALCTS for seeing the value of “supporting” support staff. Thank you to the members of the SAGE jury, including my mentor for the ALA Annual Conference, Donna Cranmer.
Donna made arrangements to meet with me after we checked in on Friday. She took time from her busy schedule to review my schedule for the conference, answer my questions and address concerns, and to make suggestions. We both agreed that a substantial part of my time should be spent in the Exhibition Hall, visiting with vendors, since that is directly related to my job as processing supervisor.
I attended the ALCTS 101 meeting on Friday evening. Everyone was most gracious and welcoming. Om Saturday, I attended a two-part presentation by FOLUSA (Friends of the Library USA) since I supervise my library’s book sale. This program was most beneficial in giving information about working with Friends of the Library groups. An added bonus was hearing Peggy Barber give an informative presentation on word- of- mouth marketing.
Every free moment during conference found me at the Exhibit Hall. All of Sunday was spent speaking with vendors, learning about new processing products and collecting contact information. I feel confident this experience will enable me to make more informed decisions when ordering line supplies.
After three, intense days of immersion in all things library, I can say I left feeling a sense of community I have never experienced before. I look forward to becoming a more active member of this community.
Angela (Slaughter) Dresselhaus
Fast Track Serials Cataloger, Indiana University, Indiana
Many thanks are in order for the sponsor of the award, SAGE Publications, and ALCTS for their assistance in arranging conference accommodations. This opportunity has helped me to see how ALA impacts the library profession. As a student in library science, I have read about current trends in libraries, and it was exciting to hear the leaders in the field at various events. Attending the conference has provided me the opportunity to become more aware of library issues and to make valuable connections in the field.
I attended the ALCTS Metadata and Digital Library Development preconference on Thursday and Friday. This workshop greatly improved my understanding of managing metadata and digital library topics, and allowed me to work with librarians from various institutions. The practical experience gained during the workshop complimented my theoretical background from library science classes. I also attended the RDA Update Forum, the Cataloging Norms Discussion Group, the Serials Standards Update Forum and other cataloging related workshops. One presentation, “Sustainable Libraries: Shades of Green,” was relevant to my work on a library sustainability committee at Indiana University.
Overall, the most positive experience was meeting with librarians who provide excellent examples for me as I work in the field as a paraprofessional and pursue my MLS. The ALCTS Award Ceremony was a valuable opportunity to learn about the efforts of librarians and was a chance to see the impact of ALCTS on the library profession. I am grateful for the experience and will apply my experiences at ALA to my future endeavors in librarianship.
Library Assistant, California State University, Sacramento, California
I expected my first ALA Annual Conference experience to be somewhat ovewhelming, but thanks to the online event planner, I was able to tentatively plan to attend the sessions in which I was most interested. I started my conference at the ALCTS 101: Write Now session, where I met my assigned mentor, Lia Hemphill. We enjoyed a nice chat and Lia entertained our table with a very interesting and informal history of library technology—a topic on which she may write an article soon.
As a member of a cataloging department, and as an LIS student specializing in information organization and description, I was looking forward to the RDA Update forum and the RDA/FRBR session, both sponsored by ALCTS. The most interesting session for me was “Creating the Future of the Catalog and Cataloging,” also sponsored by ALCTS. There was such a huge turnout that some attendees were turned away at the door. The panelists were Martha Yee, Tim Spalding (LibraryThing), Diane Hillman, Roy Tennant and Jennifer Bowen; each had a unique and valuable perspective on the future of resource description.
Diane Hillman pointed out that the options for catalogers facing the future are extinction or retooling. She suggested that extinction is the option for those who believe we are “already doing everything right” and take a “Chicken Little” approach to envisioning the future. Retooling, she said, entails considering what catalogers currently do, and what they will need to do, and mapping the training needed to get from one to the other.
Just before leaving for the 2008 ALA Annual Conference, I was notified by the ALA Office for Diversity that I had been selected for the 2008–2009 Spectrum Scholars program. I am looking forward to attending the program’s leadership institute in Chicago next year and plan to stay for the conference.
I am truly grateful to ALCTS and SAGE for the opportunity to attend this year’s conference. It afforded me a greater understanding of the significant contribution conferences can make to my professional development.