My ALA Conference

a group of librarians in front of the Natucket Public Library sometime in the early 19th century

I am the Chapter Councilor for Vermont. This means I get to (have to) go to the annual and midwinter conferences and represent the great state of Vermont. I mostly like it. To be honest, I’ve liked it MORE since COVID means we can’t travel. This means two important things: meetings are held later in the day to accommodate our colleagues from Hawai’i; and meetings are cheaper because I don’t need to get on a plane and stay in a hotel to attend these meetings. There are many reasonable critiques of ALA, many of which I agree with, but I’m still trying to do my best in this tiny role. I always write up a report for the Vermont Library Association, the group that pays for my membership and which would be paying for my travel and registration. I figured I’d share it here as well.

I’ve just completed the ALA Annual Conference as your Vermont Chapter Councilor and wanted to fill you in on ALA things.

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Upcoming events and reflections on newsletters

I’ve spread myself a little thin. Which is not at all bad but it’s been an interesting few months to try to sort out what goes where. This blog has been going since April of 1999. Since that time I’ve gotten socially active in a number of other places, notably Twitter and Facebook. I usually use that for real-time keeping current, event notifications and back channel discussions with peers. This space has always been for longer-form link sharing and essays as well as a central repository of all of my talks, FAQ and other things. When I’m busy sometimes it’s just a linkdump and I had started a few tentative posts just titled TILT for Today in Librarian Tabs. Then I started thinking they might be better off as a newsletter and so TILT-Y Mail was born. Please feel free to subscribe if you like that sort of thing (by typing your email in the box). You can read past issues and see if it’s your cup of tea. Or if you’re the sort of person who uses the Medium platform, I have a version which is over there. I write one 500-750 word essay a week, on Fridays.

What this means, though, is that this blog space is unclear. It’s sort of for essays, sort of for personal announcements, sort of for events. I didn’t talk much about the Librarian of Congress swearing-in ceremony which was last week, even though that may be the biggest things that’s happened in librarianship in my professional career. Next week is Banned Books Week where I always write something up, our goofy flawed holiday.

And coming up there is some stuff going on in my professional life.

I like having a newsletter. I like having a blog. I seem to have enough time to (mostly) maintain both but I do spend a lot more time cross-linking between my various streams than I used to. I think my next article for Computers in Libraries magazine will be about newsletters.

What I wanted to be when I grew up

There was an interesting thread on ALA Think Tank where people talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. I never wanted to be a librarian, though I liked the librarians that I knew. I wanted to be a writer though I wasn’t sure how you did that. I liked writing and I had the same name as a writer so I figured that would help. I was just digging through some old paperwork and I found my statement of professional concerns from when I ran for ALA Council. This is from 2002, so nearly 15 years ago

ala council statement

With the exception of the slightly over-the-top “family farms” aside, I still stand by this 100%, possibly even more now than I did then. And since then I’ve felt a lot more able to actually implement my ideas about the way the world of libraries and technology should work. I am very grateful that I work within a profession where I can be relevant and useful and effective in my late 40s and work with both older and younger members of my profession to create meaningful change. I even get to write a little as well. I’ve been updating my resume lately, not because I’m looking for work but just because it is a good thing to do, and will try to find a way to work this in there somewhere.

My Values Workshop for LLAMA’s Career Institute at ALA in Boston

What Matters? A Workshop for Developing & Articulating Our Values

I went to ALA for the first time in several years last week. I don’t think I’ve been to ALA since the Think Tank has been in existence. It was a great setup. Conference was in Boston. I was giving a pre-conference. Part of my deal was that I’d get registration for the conference, and one night in a fancy hotel (and some $). It worked out great. Usually, I admit, I dislike workshops. I don’t like to be in them and I barely know how to give them. However, my feelings on this are not normative, so I tried to bring my education and my experience to an afternoon workshop for about twenty people and have some useful exercises and activities as well as some good discussion. I think it went well. My main self-critique was that I had made sure I had three hours of “stuff” for a three hour workshop and maybe didn’t leave enough time for people to just talk to each other. More blank spaces next time. You can read through my slides as well as see the handouts and exercises (and the image credits) at this URL: https://www.librarian.net/talks/llama16/.

ALA had a conference app that encouraged you to upload your slides to the application so people could have them. Great idea in theory, but in reality I didn’t see any privacy policy and was a little leery of giving up my content so I uploaded a single slide with the URL to my actual slides. Hope people didn’t feel that it was too cheeky. A few other photos of my ALA trip are here. Thanks so much to everyone who came to the pre-conference and especially to LLAMA who invited me and took very good care of me. They were a joy to work with.

Not the Avengers of librarianship. Thoughts on the DPLA/White House/FirstBook/IMLS/ALA thing

It could have been the Avengers of librarianing. All these powerhouses working together to help increase low-income childrens’ access to good reading material. But I don’t think that’s how it worked out. Here are my thoughts on last week’s press releases about this new set of programs. Written for The Message.

Aren’t libraries already doing that?