ALA Annual at Anaheim

by Kate Zoellner

As a recipient of the 3M/NMRT Professional Development Grant, 3M kindly sponsored my participation at ALA’s 2008 Annual Conference. I took full advantage of the myriad educational programs and social activities at the conference, from open access in the social sciences to the Disneyland Bash. As a result, I came away with new ideas for professional practice, contacts and enjoyable memories. What follows is a select log of events from my conference experience.

I started planning my conference schedule in advance of arriving in Anaheim. I looked through the preliminary program guide and found out when programs of interest were occurring and when committees I am a member of were meeting. I received guidance from my mentor on how to select a program to attend when multiple programs of interest to me are happening at the same time (which is inevitable). I gathered maps of the ALA hotels and city. And, I checked the wiki for other programs and events. There, I found information on an ‘unofficial’ tour of Little Saigon (APALA) and signed up to attend. By the time I arrived in Anaheim I was prepared to navigate the conference.

The Little Saigon Bus Tour was a tremendous educational and cultural experience. The tour was led by Cathy Kim-Van Q. Le, Aliso Viejo Library. She grew up in the area and shared a wealth of information on the Vietnamese community’s history. We visited the "Nguoi Viet” newspaper office where we spoke with the editor, Anh Do, toured the Asian Garden Mall with the former city mayor and enjoyed lunch at a Vietnamese Having this experience outside the conference resort area gave me a better sense of where I was in California.

I helped plan and attended the “NMRT Conference Orientation”, which provided information on NMRT and guidance for first time conference attendees. Nanette Donohue, NMRT President, talked about the benefits of NMRT like networking, guaranteed committee appointments and the resume review service. Michael Gorlick gave tips on using the conference program guide and taking advantage of all the opportunities to meet new people and make contacts. Other topics discussed were finding your way through the exhibits and active participation in professional associations.

“Knowledge Wants to be Known: Open Access Issues for the Behavioral and Social Sciences” (EBSS, STS, ACRL Scholarly Communication) covered general issues related to open-access publishing like sustainability models, the differences between OA journals and institutional repositories, author licenses, and resources (e.g., SPARC Author Addendum, HTP Prints). Specific issues facing the behavioral and social sciences discussed were lower faculty awareness of OA (compared with the Sciences), research publication venues beyond journals, and citation patterns. On returning to work, I added the new OA resources I learned to my subject database pages, and am working to include OA discussions in my instruction sessions.

LITA’s “Top Technology Trends” panelists presented the current trends they see influencing the profession. Recurring mentions included the growth in APIs, increasingly specialized mobile devices, the need for social software sustainability and archiving, net neutrality, and greater openness – in the forms of open access publishing and open source software. Sarah Houghton-Jan discussed how bandwidth is limiting library services and professional practice. Roy Tennett told us to develop and continually gain skills in manipulating data and data systems. These two comments resonated with me as they are true in my geographic location, Montana, and in the assessment responsibilities I have in my job.

“Is there a Right to Information Literacy? Academy Responsibility in the Information Age” (IS, Committee on Ethics) addressed the need to include information literacy in the larger education movement through policy formation, to provide evidence of the impact of information literacy on higher education, and issues and challenges librarians face, like the marginalization of library work in higher education and the need for librarians to increase their pedagogical knowledge. The need for pedagogical training is something my colleagues and I have been discussing. This session fueled my enthusiasm for further readings and creating internal development opportunities.

“Your Library, Your Space: Using Research to Make Libraries People Friendly” (CORS) described the qualitative research that was used in space renovations at both an academic (Georgia Tech) and public (Farmington Public Library) library, as well as the reasons for using qualitative methods for design purposes. In addition to the typical qualitative methods – focus groups, surveys, interviews and observations – these libraries also went to other venues to gather data, like other areas on campus where students study. These methods will be useful to me as my library works to reconfigure spaces.

I co-presented a poster at the “EBSS Research Forum”. This was a positive experience as it provided a place and discussion for my colleague, Charlie Potter, and I to share and receive feedback on our research (exploring the relationship between high school library media center resources and instruction and those at the university-level).

Committee Meetings

I attended the EBSS Instruction for Educators Committee meeting. We reviewed the draft Education Information Literacy Standards the committee is writing and fleshed out a plan for completing the document and literature review. We discussed the need to consider and align with the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards, AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, as well as professional accreditation standards for educators (e.g., NCATE). At the ACRL Green 2009 Component Committee meeting we discussed the committee’s work to green ACRL’s upcoming 14th national conference in Seattle. Business included membership communication, highlighting green practices of vendors and hotels, “green” conference programs and documentation to support future conference planning.

Social Events
I attended the Instruction Section Soirée where I ran into a former colleague and graduate school classmates. It was great to see familiar faces and catch-up on each person’s career path. My alma mater’s reception offered another opportunity to catch-up with old friends. At the ALA/ProQuest Scholarship Event Bash at Disneyland Park I was amazed by the number of people and Mickey Mouse ears I saw.

The 3M/NMRT Social was fabulous. I felt honored to have received 3M’s sponsorship and had the opportunity to meet many 3M employees and convey my appreciation in person. There was lots of socializing, food and dancing; I found out through observation that if you want to get people on the dance floor “Footloose” is the song to play! Another social event I participated in was ALA’s Dine-Around Program. I joined others like myself who wanted to try California Cuisine. This was a fun way to meet new people. I also fit time into my conference schedule to share meals with friends.

Back to Work

Returning to work was both invigorating and challenging. The conference rewarded me with new ideas to implement and resources and tools to investigate. At the same time, I had already-existing projects to complete. While balancing projects can be difficult, I feel lucky to be part of a profession with so many and so varied ideas and projects abuzz.

I am thankful to have received the 3M/NMRT grant and encourage others to apply. I greatly appreciate the opportunity the grant afforded me to attend ALA’s annual conference, to have an intensive period of time to focus on my professional development.