My ALCTS Experience

Lori Robare

When I first began attending ALA conferences, I knew I wanted to become involved with ALCTS, but felt a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of getting on the radar, much less finding my niche. Travel funding at my institution was closely tied to involvement, which posed a bit of a dilemma—how to even get to the conferences in order to get involved? The solution for me was to start with an ALA poster session that highlighted a project at my library—training paraprofessionals in subject analysis. This was a great way for me to break the ice and begin making connections as people walked through the poster sessions and talked with me. I think it also helped highlight my areas of interest when I began filling out volunteer forms.

At the conference, I found the ALCTS discussion groups and committees that appealed to me most and sat in on meetings. The Subject Analysis Committee really sparked my interest, and I aimed for that when filling out my volunteer form. I was thrilled to be appointed as an intern. Taking minutes for five hours of meetings was less than thrilling, but it was very exciting to be at the table with leaders in the field, people who were shaping developments in this fascinating area, and to make a small contribution to their efforts. My internship led to an appointment as a member of SAC. I also became involved with the Council of Regional Groups, a great fit because I work closely with my state library association’s technical services group.

I felt very tentative about many of my first forays into ALCTS, but just kept watching for opportunities to volunteer, raising my hand, and asking for help and guidance from others when I did get opportunities. I chaired the Copy Cataloging Discussion Group and a subcommittee of SAC. Then I was asked to chair SAC, an experience that was exciting and nerve-wracking at times (parliamentary procedure is not one of my strengths!). This experience really pushed me to develop leadership skills, and I am grateful to the many people who helped me. My term as chair was ending just as ALCTS and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging launched a joint effort to develop training materials. I jumped at the opportunity to help develop the course Basic Subject Cataloging Using LCSH—the most rewarding accomplishment of my career. Since then I have helped develop Fundamentals of Library of Congress Classification, helped train other trainers, and I have chaired the committee that oversees maintenance of the jointly-developed courses.

Recently, I have ventured out of the subject analysis arena and into descriptive cataloging with an appointment as member of CC:DA, just in time to have a front-row seat for all of the fascinating developments with RDA. I’ve also become more active at the ALCTS level, with a term on the ALCTS Program Committee and on Dina Giambi’s President’s Program Committee. At each step, I have met amazing people, made great friends, and learned a tremendous amount. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had, and look forward to whatever may be in store next.

Midwinter Events in Boston

The 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting will take place in Boston. The following is a list of activities that will take place during the meeting.

Thursday, January 14

Living Digital: The Future of Information and the Role of the Library Implementing an Institutional Repository: Benefits and Challenges

Collections and access to information are the bread and butter of libraries. The digital environment has introduced new materials, new partners, and new user expectations into the information arena. Four distinguished speakers from both inside and outside of librarianship will address issues that are expected to include recruiting students into information-related professions, information seeking behaviors of those living in the digital age, emerging initiatives related to information access, and techniques institutions may employ in adapting to new information ecologies. Attendees will learn how to facilitate the delivery of information and understand their role in an environment of constantly evolving genres and increasing quantities of information.

Plenary speakers:

  • Margaret Ashida, Project Manager, Empire State STEM Education Initiative, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
  • Kevin Guthrie, President of Ithaka, formerly president of JSTOR
  • John Palfrey, Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School and co-author of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives
  • John Wilkin, Associate University Librarian for Library Information Technology and Executive Director of Hathi Trust

This will be a participative session which will enable attendees to exchange ideas with each other and with the speakers is planned.


  • Ann Wolpert, Director of Libraries, MIT
  • Jenny Levine, Internet Development Specialist and Strategy Guide, ALA and owner of The Shifted Librarian blog
  • David Stern, Associate University Library for Scholarly Resources, Brown University

Friday, January 15

“And Now For Something Completely Different:” Our Future from Outside the Box

Several cutting-edge thinkers from outside the library profession will prepare short opinion pieces on future trends/issues/developments that are likely to impact research, instruction, and scholarly communication. These essays will serve as the foundation for panel discussions between some of these thinkers, selected respondents, and attendees on emerging roles for libraries and librarians, particularly collections and technical services librarians. This symposium will build upon the themes developed in the ALCTS Symposium, “Living Digital.” Speakers TBD.