ALA Annual Conference 2010: Conference ReportThe 2010 American Library Association Annual Conference was simply loaded with opportunities for professional development and personal growth for librarians in Federal and Armed Forces Libraries. Our Round Table planned a strong conference program thanks to an excellent Conference Planner in Rose Marie Krauss of the Marine Corps from Parris Island, South Carolina. Despite being injured in a fall the week of the conference, Rose Marie was able to see to it that our sessions were promoted in the ALA Program and that we had the right room configurations and equipment to provide an excellent experience to those that attended FAFLRT sessions.
Prior to the conference, FAFLRT members were active in planning and preparing for a number of activities. Eileen Welch from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS), USDA coordinated a FAFLRT presence in the ALA Membership Pavilion as she has for several years. In addition to the new FAFLRT brochures and business cards, Eileen gathered flyers, bookmarks, and outreach materials from Federal and Armed Forces Libraries.
FAFLRT also had a representative at the Spectrum Scholarship event the night before the conference. The Spectrum Scholarship event gives library school students from diverse backgrounds a chance to learn about the opportunities available within ALA to gain experience and become active in the profession. Everyone is always fascinated by the story FAFLRT members tell; with Federal and Armed Forces Libraries in every state in the U.S. and many countries around the world.
Friday started early with a full house for the Careers in Federal Libraries pre-conference event held at the Library of Congress. Careers in Federal Libraries events have been conducted at several ALA meetings in recent years, thanks in large part to Nancy Faget (Government Printing Office) and a large group of volunteers from library schools and federal and armed forces libraries. This years’ event was once again sponsored by Library Associates Companies (LAC) and the space was provided by the Library of Congress, Federal Library and Information Center Committee (FLICC). The event was completely filled with librarians and library school students that see great opportunity in a possible career as a federal or armed forces librarian. The program included librarians from all over the globe that talked about their careers as well as tips and tricks for applying to the federal government and getting hired. FAFLRT is planning to continue these events in the future and we’re looking for volunteers that can help plan and execute these events at upcoming ALA conferences as well as on campuses around the country.
Friday evening, FAFLRT held its’ annual Awards Reception. This year’s reception had been planned for the grand and beautiful Great Hall at the U.S. Department of Justice but due to some late-breaking issues with security requirements and the schedule for the event, the venue was moved to an ALA Conference hotel. Despite the short-notice, the Marriott Metro Center Hotel provided FAFLRT with a wonderful venue and an excellent menu for the Awards Reception. Unfortunately, a few people that had planned to attend were not notified of the change of venue, including one of the evening sponsors, Proquest, and our FAFLRT President-Elect. All of the nights award recipients did get the notice though and we had a wonderful evening, honoring long-time members Nancy Faget and Shirley Loo as well as new and upcoming librarians, Julie Williams from San Jose State University and Megan Meyers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Sunday started off with the FAFLRT Board and Membership Meeting. We had a full room for our meeting at the JW MARIOTT downtown, despite the distance from the main conference. The Board Meeting included introductions of new FAFLRT Board members and a presentation from the ALA Council liaison to FAFLRT, Diane Chen. Diane has been a strong advocate for FAFLRT and as a military mother, a vocal proponent of support for library services to active military personnel and their families. The Board meeting also highlighted the continued growth of the FAFLRT membership over the last year as well as a very successful effort this year to gain advertisers in the Federal Librarian and sponsors of FAFLRT programming at the ALA Conference.
After the Board meeting, a number of FAFLRT members traveled together to the Grand Hyatt for a special program from author, Kathy Roth-Douquet about connecting with military families. Mrs. Roth-Duquet is a former Clinton Administration appointee and the wife of an active military author. She has written a number of books including “AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country.” Mrs. Roth-Duquet had copies of her book available to sign but she spoke primarily about her experiences as a family member of an active duty officer and her efforts to support others in her situation.
In 2008, Mrs. Roth-Duquet founded a non-profit organization called Blue Star Families, explicitly to give the families of military personnel support during long deployments. The presentation included dialogue with those that attended, many of whom have family serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blue Star Families is networking with families all over the world and has created programs like “Books on Bases” and “Blue Star Museums” to bring education and experiential learning to families on and off the military base.
Late in the day on Sunday, FAFLRT sponsored its largest program of the conference highlighting “Institutional Repositories in Action: Stories from the Federal World.” The program, moderated by FAFLRT President Karl Debus-López, featured presentations from the National Agricultural Library, National Library of Medicine, and the Library of Congress. There was a common thread in the presentations: the time for libraries to manage digital content is here. Each has a different mandate in terms of the items they are collecting for their repositories with NAL focused on journal content published by USDA researchers, NLM focused on special collections items, and LC beginning to acquire electronic only serial issues from publishers as part of a mandatory e-deposit program via the Copyright Office.
All three institutions spoke about the emerging requirements to collect, manage, and plan for the preservation of digital content in their libraries. Each group arrived at this reality through a different path and have used different technological approaches for creating their repositories. Their presentations were very informative to everyone that attended, including the presenters and it was great to see these three large institutions sharing a stage and talking about their challenges and their approaches.
The theme of learning from each other continued in a much smaller program on Monday morning. The “International Exchange Programs in the Digital Age” did not draw a large crowd but it did generate a very lively discussion among the people that attended. A representative from the Library of 2010Congress presented on the results of a survey the Library recently conducted of national libraries world-wide about their ability to exchange digital content from other countries. The Library of Congress is exploring digital exchanges of information like legislation, government reports, etc. Their desire is that exchange partners would deposit digital copies with other national libraries in exchange for similar deposits in their own national library. The project is in its earliest stages and participants in the program had a lively discussion of the implications and opportunities such an effort would provide.
FAFLRT also sponsored two long-format programs on Monday and Tuesday of the conference. “Career Paths in Knowledge Management” was held on Monday at the National Transportation Library and “Connecting with the Feds: Social Collaboration and Transparency Tools,” was held on Tuesday on the campus of the Catholic University of America. Both programs addressed topics important to librarians and information professionals working in Federal and Armed Forces Libraries world-wide.
Work has already begun to plan for the 2011 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. If you have ideas or suggestions for making the conference better, please feel free to contact a FAFLRT Board member or share your thoughts on the FAFLRT list.
By Richard Huffine, Past-President, 2009-2010
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