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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

If I fall, If I die, and Thunder Bay

Occasionally, an inexplicable ARC shows up on my doorstep. Last week, I found one from random House that wasn't YA, it wasn't an Alabama author, it wasn't in translation, it wasn't even to-be-released, having published in January. It's If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie.

I scratched my head, but I'm so glad I read it. The fairy bookmothers obviously knew I'd enjoy it.

It starts with a hidden child like Room, or The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, but, rather than invested in hiding his existence, Will's mother Diane is a agoraphobic who sweeps him into her anxieties . Then Will makes a friend, goes to school, becomes a detective and a skateboarder, but the most resonant parts for me where the vivid, moving descriptions of the Canadian rustbelt Great Lakes city Thunder Bay, it's former grain glory, and native Ojibwe population. The language was transcendent. There is series of nice surprises in the end. And I think it had Alex-y appeal for teens. I'm passing it along to my husband, and definitely ordering a copy for school. Thrasher and Bolex cameras! If my skaters can get past the claustrophobia of Will's early life inside, I think they'll love it.

Monday, March 9, 2015

ALLA at Point Clear: Ya'll come!

I have spent the last year as president of the Alabama Library Association. The ne plus ultra of that position involves planning for our annual conference. We're holding this year's meeting in Point Clear, Alabama, April 7-10 at The Grand Hotel, a lovely antebellum place on Mobile Bay. It's really idyllic down there, and I think it will be the perfect getaway after our especially long hard winter. There's a superhero theme, and we're also partnering with the regional Southeastern Library Association, so it should be a happening conference.

I was totally charmed by our state's "East Coast" when I visited last spring, and the local committee has been hard at work and has recruited some fabulous author speakers, including Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series, Hester Bass, Beck McDowell, Gilbert Morris, and TK Thorne. I'm especially jazzed about the preconference with a local historian, who's going to talk about the Civil War landmarks on the bay, the welcome reception Tuesday night on the pier at sunset, and the President's Luncheon with Rachel Hawkins speaking and shrimp and grits on the menu (I don't eat shrimp, but I do appreciate the grits!). This year's Alabama Author Award Winners are stellar, too, and all of them will be there:

Nonfiction: Lily Ledbetter and Lanier Isom, Grace and grit: my fight for equal pay at Goodyear and beyond.
Fiction: Walter Bennett, Leaving Tuscaloosa
Children's: Lori Nichols, Maple
Young adult: S.J. Kincaid, Insignia

Last month, I happened to pick up Wendy Corsi Staub's thriller The Perfect Stranger, which has a Point Clear tie-in as the home of the one of the women in the online cancer support group and destination for a face-to-face meet-up. The character's daughter works at The Grand! That seemed such a happy omen for this conference.

I'll be pretty concentrated on this event for the next month, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed we break even, everyone enjoys the food and entertainment, and the range of sessions appeals to librarians of all stripes. And, despite my propensity for worrying, I think it's going to be a good one.

Jessica Hagy
Preregistration goes through March 29th, and while the conference block at The Grand has sold out, there are still some rooms available there at the rack rate and more affordable accommodations  at other Fairhope hotels, including the Hampton Inn, The Holiday Inn Express, and the Key West Inn.  I hope to see all my Alabama librarian friends there!