Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Librarians: Information Superheroes!

In my last activity as Alabama Library Association president, I spent the bulk of last week in conference mode.

I had an incredible bay view from my quarters

My welcome note from the program:
It is truly and honor and privilege to be able to welcome you to our annual association convention. Like many of you, I have fond recollections of family trips to the beach, which in my childhood always meant Gulf Shores. Alabama’s gulf coast holds so many memories. I can vividly remember my first glimpse of the indelible bloodstain at Fort Morgan and especially treasure a romantic visit to the Malaga Inn in downtown Mobile. From the azalea trail to the first American Mardi Gras and the Moon Pie drop on New Year’s Eve, the Alabama Gulf Coast is home to a very special way of life, and I am especially thrilled that we will be able to include our colleagues in the Southeastern Library Association for this joint conference.
The lovely and historic setting at The Grand at Point Clear made it a natural choice for reconnecting with colleagues, recharging after a busy school year or semester, or gearing up before summer reading begins, and I hope that you will join me in taking the time for reflecting upon our tremendous privilege to work in such a valuable and fundamental role in our communities. Our event theme, “Information Superheroes,” is a nod to all we do. We hope that you will begin to recognize and publicize the Herculean tasks you accomplish daily and your many skills which you so selflessly deploy.

Last summer, I heard Discovering Alabama’s Doug Phillips describe our state as one of the richest places on the planet in terms of environmental diversity. This is one of the most special and unspoiled places in an area overflowing with natural beauty. Whether you are a native or a newer Alabamian, I think you will gain a special affection for the landmarks and landscape of Baldwin County over the course of this conference.

The conference committee is eager to share their local knowledge with you, and do let the members of your association’s governance know if we can help you with anything during the event. We have worked hard to make sure that there are a variety of speakers of both general and niche interests among our program, and hope you will enjoy this annual celebration and rejuvenation of the libraries of the state of Alabama.
Preconference tour of the bay front with local historian John Sledge
I picked a downright amazing convention committee chair who made the four days in Point Clear edifying and fun for everyone with a really adorable and apt superhero theme, which I wrote about here in The Communicator, our Association newsletter.

Keynote speaker Longmire author Craig Johnson with convention chair Wendy Congiardo

Best theme tie-in goes to my friends from Mountain Brook
I really only got the kindest feedback from the attendees and exhibitors who attended.

The exhibits were hopping every time I happened by.

Highlights included:
Rachel Hawkins delivered a sunny and heartfelt talk at the President's Luncheon.

The groundbreaking Lilly Ledbetter was among our Alabama Author Award winners.

What we all need: more silver!

My talk on leadership for our Emeritus Council program:


How could you not enjoy yourself with a setting this idyllic?

Then I spent Saturday repping the Association at the Alabama Book Festival.

Now that this year of heady responsibility is behind me, there are so many things I want to do in the library, so I'm hoping I can turn my attentions to some long-term planning. I feel like I've been overly reactionary for the last few years, making things work as best I can, and I want to spend the spring and summer shifting into a proactive mode in our great new space.
Special thanks to everyone who made the trek down south and those who make Alabama libraries services such a force for good -- I am convinced that we do indeed punch above our weight.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Front list reading problems

When you keep seeing reviews and even paid advertisements for a particular book, and you request it via one of those eARC services which can be such a demoralizing process, and then you get approved and try to read it and are just thoroughly nonplussed?

A sort of Easter-y bunny

It sort of calls into question the whole amateur reader-reviewer exoskeleton that is the bookblogosphere... and then if you don't review that eARC, because you can't say anything nice, what will that do to your NetGalley completion stats? These modern conundrums...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the LibraryTechnology conference in St. Paul as one of ten scholarships recipients. As both a school and rural librarian, I met the scholarship criteria to receive funding for my hotel accommodations and registration, which made this trip do-able.  It was terrific to attend an convention where I didn’t have to present or attend meetings! The event was held at Macalester College during that school’s spring break, and it drew five hundred librarians from all over.

I can’t say enough good things about LTC2015.  The keynotes—Courtney Greene McDonald and Bohyun Kim – were extremely intellectually stimulating, and the concurrent session were spot-on, too. I attended a great maker space session which included crafting and gaming as well as the more usual suspects like robotics, circuits, and 3D printing, which was a nice take on that sometimes tech-centric trend. But the two themes that struck me overall were (1) the increasing importance of visual design in improving library communications and patron engagement and (2) the rise of digital production in the humanities.  

I’ve been thinking for a while about how, with everything from etsy to Pinterest to repackage Penguin classics, aesthetics are the new currency, so the number of sessions on digital design tools really affirmed that. I was also jazzed because that is pretty much the conference session I’ll be doing for or state edtech conference in June and have proposed for our state school library association, too.
The other huge trend there was the rise of digital humanities or digital scholarship projects, especially as summative projects in the classroom. This is a real-world project that actually prepares students for the workplace.  I sat in on a talk about a project at St. Cloud University, and the school’s plan to propose a certificate in that area and the difficulty in finding tech-y people who were comfortable with humanities topics, and I realized that what they were talking about was pretty much my exact skill set. It makes me really excited to think about the online publishing options for all the amazing archival resources out there that are either undigitized or unfindable, and I have some plans for some small scale projects here.
And Macalester was a perfect campus setting, with great facilities in close proximity, scrumptious food including lots of vegetarian options, and a really green approach that include online schedule and refillable water bottles for attendees. The crowd reminded me a lot of the sysadmins I got to work with when I was at Sirsi, and everyone was super-friendly. The social event which closed the conference Thursday evening was fun, too. And all the sessions are archived for later reference.
The next libtech conference will be March 16-17, 2016. For those looking for a small conference filled with people who know their tech stuff, I would check it out, for sure.

Who are YOU going to be voting for?

Apologies! I thought I had posted this earlier, but I guess I just saved as draft...

I had a tough time deciding which of the four (!) candidates I marked for my ALA election ballot, but I do have some informed suggestions for the youth services librarians' elections, friends and colleagues who I know will do a terrific job...


Position: ALSC Board of Directors

My endorsement: Mary Voors, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN
Think the ALSC blog rocks? Mary is the mastermind!

Position: Caldecott 2017 Committee

My endorsements:
Stacy Dillon, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI), New York, NY
Stacy is one of the smartest school librarians around.

Brian Wilson, Evanston Public Library, Evanston, IL
Brian was on the 2014 Odyssey committee with me. He is funny and thoughtful and a real children's literature expert.

Position: Newbery 2017 Committee

My endorsements:
Laura Lutz, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York, NY
Laura was in my 2008 Emerging Leaders cohort. We worked on a project showcasing Native authors, and she was an expert bibliographer even then. She also has Carnegie experience.

Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Calgary, AB CANADA
Betsy and I were on Council together. She fights the good fight.

Terrell Young, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Terry and I are on the USBBY Board of Directors together, and like everyone in that group, he is totally concerned with what's best for children everywhere.

Position: Wilder 2017 Committee

My endorsement: Luann Toth, School Library Journal, New York, NY
I can always count on seeing Luann at USBBY events. She is smart and funny and very well-informed. She has the long view necessary for this position.


Position: YALSA President-elect

My endorsement: Sarah Hill, Information Services Librarian, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL
Sarah was on the Odyssey with me as well. I felt like we had the most overlap when it came to literary taste...and I love that she's working with older teens. She doesn't have opposition, but that doesn't mean she's not the woman for the job.

Position: YALSA Board of Directors

My endorsement: Kate McNair Teen Services Coordinating Librarian, Johnson County Library, Overland Park, KS
Kate chaired a preconference where I presented an eon ago, and I always enjoy seeing her and catching up. She will bring a practitioner perspective to this group.

Position: Printz Award Committee

My endorsement: Janet Hilbun, Assistant Professor, Library, University of North Texas, School of Library and Information Sciences, Denton, TX
One of my doctoral advisors, Janet reads lots. She's a veteran of BFYA and Nonfiction and wrote a killer dissertation on Christianity in YA lit.


Position: President-elect

My endorsement: Dorcas Hand, Annunciation Orthodox School, Houston, TX
Dorcas is a tireless, selfless school librarian who changed my understanding of advocating for our students. She is exactly the sort of literate and articulate leader we need.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Only Ever Yours

It is rare to find a book as thought-provoking as Louise O'Neill's Only Ever Yours. It follows the natural conclusion of our appearance- and social media-obsessed society, a culture where women are objects to the extent their names are not even capitalized and pharmaceuticals regulate their weight and their sleep. 

I want to recommend this title to every teen girl I know, to illustrate exactly what happens when "feminist" is considered an obscenity, "there is always room for improvement," and women must always be willing to submit to men (if they are lucky enough to become either companions or concubines). 

I think this will be a blockbuster. And I have never seen something so ripe for film adaptation.