Betting on Vegas | ALA 2014 Preview

Something different is in store for attendees of this year’s American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, to be held June 26–July 1 at Nevada’s Las Vegas Convention Center. For ALA annual and Midwinter Meeting veterans, accustomed to a rotation of familiar venues, Las Vegas offers a new twist. This is only the second ALA get-together held in Las Vegas; the first was in 1973. It remains to be seen whether the famous tourist destination will attract attendees in the numbers that habitually turn out for centrally located Chicago—and whether those who do turn up will forsake the exhibit floor for the town’s famous shows and casinos.


Something different is in store for attendees of this year’s American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, to be held June 26–July 1 at Nevada’s Las Vegas Convention Center. For ALA annual and Midwinter Meeting veterans, accustomed to a rotation of familiar venues that include ALA’s home base in Chicago, as well as New Orleans; Anaheim, CA; Washington, DC; and Orlando (now controversial owing to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law), Las Vegas offers a new twist. This is only the second ALA get-together held in Las Vegas; the first was in 1973. It remains to be seen whether the famous tourist destination will attract attendees in the numbers that habitually turn out for centrally located Chicago—and whether those who do turn up will forsake the exhibit floor for the town’s famous shows and casinos.

The changes go beyond location: this year’s theme is “transforming our libraries, ourselves” and highlights encompass an ambitious range of programs on the topic of transformation, both personal and systemic—and the connections between the two, from Jane McGonigal on the power of gamification and Jennifer Kahnweiler on the power of introverts to reflections on women’s choices, teen dilemmas, and inspiration from Jane Fonda, Azar Nafisi, and Ilyasah Shabazz.

On the heels of the launch of ALA’s new Center for the Future of Libraries and the invitational summit on the same topic, annual will be librarians’ first chance to glimpse, and help shape, the overarching vision ALA is helping to ­articulate.

Since annual’s total program is far too comprehensive for us to present here, as we did last year, we’ve chosen to highlight those items that particularly caught the eye of members of the LJ editorial staff. For the complete program listing, visit

ljx140601webALA3bRebecca T. Miller

Editorial Director

My ALA will be primarily absorbed by meetings and punctuated by celebrations for winners of several of the awards presented or sponsored by LJ and SLJ: Movers & Shakers, Paralibrarian of the Year, Library of the Year, and the Margaret A. Edwards Award. Nonetheless, I keep a roster of program picks handy, in case a window opens up. This year, I’m especially curious to hear how the “future” is getting framed, how our libraries are supporting change inside their organizations, and innovation in library building design. Washington Update: 2014 Congressional Election & Its Impact on Libraries Sat. Jun. 28, 8:30–10 a.m. A look ahead at the political landscape and how libraries may fare in a number of key areas. Future of Libraries Sat., Jun. 28, 10:30–11:30 a.m. A handful of thought leaders—including SLJ contributor Carolyn Foote and LJ’s Librarian of the Year Corinne Hill, moderated by ALA president Barbara Stripling—will share insights from the invitation-only “Libraries from Now On” gathering. Is the Public Library the New Education Institution of the Future? Sat., Jun. 28, 10:30–11:30 a.m. As how we learn continues to be transformed by tech, the evergreen role of the library as a learning place is seeing reinvention—this presentation will share insights from Aspen Institute work last year. Science + Form = Function: The Impact of Neuroscience on Architecture & Design Sat., Jun. 28, 1–2:30 p.m. How could anyone interested in space ­design resist? Continuing Education for Libraries: A National Conversation Sat., Jun. 28, 3–4 p.m. “How do we do CE better?” It’s an urgent question, and this update on a recent work by IMLS and OCLC’s Webjunction to understand the needs and barriers promises to help frame a direction forward. Intellectual Freedom in the Surveillance State Sat., Jun. 28, 3–4 p.m. There was no description for this program as of this writing, but the Social Responsibilities Round Table is right to have it on the docket. Perhaps it will feature input from ALA’s recently hired surveillance and cybersecurity expert Adam Eisgrau. Building a Learning Culture from the Inside Out Sun., Jun. 29, 10:30–11:30 a.m. I’m intrigued by the pitch of a panel of “change agents” tapping examples from within libraries and beyond them to foster more dynamic, openly creative ­organizations. Disaster Preparedness in the 21st Century Mon., Jun. 30, 1–2:30 p.m. Ever critical, strong disaster planning is more and more important as global warming impacts our communities and library buildings. Top Library Building Trends Mon. Jun. 30, 1–2:30 p.m. We hope this will be a whirlwind tour of great ideas and new solutions to make our buildings ever more responsive to our ­communities.

John N. Berry III


ALA Vegas All-Conference Pre-Party Thurs., Jun. 26, 8:30 p.m.–Fri., Jun. 27, 2:30 a.m. Patrick Sweeney and J.P. Porcaro, ALA Think Tank party men, have set up a pub crawl that starts on Thursday evening, at Blondies (in the Miracle Mills in the Planet Hollywood), and continues as a Club Crawl through Vegas until the wee hours of the morning. You have to order a ticket for $42 at Cover charges that would cost more than $100 come with the ticket along with discounted drinks, food, etc., and free access to several hot ­Vegas night sites. Don’t miss this one, if only for the six hours of boozing and schmoozing. For more details, visit the Facebook event page at Jane Fonda: Auditorium Speaker Series Sat., Jun. 28, 8:30–9:30 a.m. I would never miss an opportunity to be in the presence of Jane Fonda, so I’ll be there to see her even if the hour is early and the subject is dealing with adolescent sexuality. Sponsored by Random House. ALA Governance Sessions To find out what is on the ALA agenda, I always attend the Information Session, this time on Sat., Jun. 28, 3–4:30 p.m. (followed immediately by the ALA Membership Meeting, held in the same room). Then I attend, selectively, ALA Council sessions as follows: Council I, Sun., Jun. 29, 8:30–11 a.m.; Council II, Mon., Jun. 30, 8:30–11:30 a.m.; and Council III, Tues., Jul. 1, 7:45–9:15 a.m. Followed immediately by the Closing General Session (free) and Inaugural Brunch ($55), where new ALA president Courtney Young will take the gavel and tell her story.

ljx140601webALA4bMatt Enis

Associate Editor, Technology

Top Technology Trends & LITA Awards Presentation Sun., Jun. 29, 1–2:30 p.m. The LITA Top Technology Trends roundtable is one of my “can’t miss” events. The LITA Awards Presentation and President’s Program precedes the event, and I’m looking forward to hearing from Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code, an organization that has helped 2,500 students, about 75 percent of whom are African American girls, to gain programming skills. Cutting-Edge Technology in Library Services Sat., Jun. 28, 1–2:30 p.m. Each year, ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) recognize libraries that have implemented creative, cutting edge technology at their libraries. This year’s honorees include the Somerset County Library System, NJ, which developed inexpensive electronic signboards with Raspberry Pi computers, and North Carolina State University’s Hunt Library, Raleigh, which developed an app to capture visitor photos tagged with #HuntLibrary and display them online and in the library. Offering examples of recent tech successes, the session complements the LITA Top Tech Trends panel, which is often more forward-looking. Embedding Librarians in Virtual Communities Sat., Jun. 28, 1–2:30 p.m. This session will take a look at “new tools for the role of the 21st-century librarian,” examining ways in which librarians can support information literacy in online communities via MOOCs, wikis, mobile devices, and virtual worlds. New Directions for Data Visualization in Library Public Services Sat., Jun. 28, 1–2:30 p.m. Data visualization has become a hot topic for academic libraries. This session will provide background and explore “new and innovative ways of disseminating data and learning objectives.” Technology Priorities for the New Library Reality Sat., Jun. 28, 3–4 p.m. Presentations and reports on technology tend to highlight what’s new and cool or on the horizon. Using responses from a broad survey of librarians as a starting point, this program looks at technology from a different angle. With funding tight, and resources being reallocated among service areas, are electronic resources and/or hardware and software the best use of funds, and if so, how should libraries prioritize tech spending?

Meredith Schwartz

Senior Editor, News & Features

3D Printing at the Reference Desk & Library Makerspaces Without the Space Sat., Jun. 28, 1–2:30 p.m. Two Silicon Valley libraries explain how they introduced Maker activities without adding real estate. I love the idea of having Maker activities available to all the space-challenged libraries out there. Code4ILL: How To Grow Your Own Innovation for Resource Sharing Sat., Jun. 28, 1–2:30 p.m. Librarians from three resource-sharing initiatives, including the Occam’s Reader Project collaboration between academic libraries and a major publisher, will share their best hacks for interlibrary loan and document delivery. Diversity Success Stories Sat., Jun. 28, 4:30–5:30 p.m. To avoid reinventing the wheel, we need to learn what’s working and replicate it. A panel of librarians will discuss diversity initiatives that have spurred organizational change at their own institutions. Create, Transform and Sustain: Managing for Edgy New Technology Services Sun., Jun. 29, 8:30–10 a.m. Adding weird new services isn’t easy, and we hear from librarians who try that it can be isolating if the larger surrounding culture doesn’t get it. This program will present the nuts and bolts of how libraries made three projects work, including transitioning staff to new roles, obtaining new funding and reallocating existing resources, gaining staff buy-in, and sustaining and evaluating the initiative once in place. We F’ed Up, but We Fixed It: Thriving When Things Go Wrong Sun., Jun. 29, 4:30–5:30 p.m. Bias against negative results is common even in scientific journals, but we can learn a lot from what didn’t work. In the tradition of Fail4Lib, a panel of librarians will discuss initiatives that didn’t turn out as planned and how the libraries recovered and went on to flourish. Participants will have a chance to workshop their own failures into successes.

ljx140601webALA5bIan Chant

Associate Editor, News

Boba Fett at the Circ Desk: Library Leadership Lessons from the Empire Strikes Back Sat., Jun. 28, 8:30–10 a.m. Can anyone out there honestly tell me they’re not at least a little interested in the leadership tips and tricks on display in this program? From putting noisy patrons on a carbonite freeze time-out to performing Jedi mind tricks to get what you need out of management, advice on leadership from cinema’s most famous evil empire. Stan Lee: Auditorium Speaker Series Sat., Jun. 28, noon–1 p.m. I don’t actually have to explain why this is awesome, do I? The founding father of Marvel Comics. The creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and many more classic comics characters. Sponsored by Viking. Graphic Novel Petting Zoo Sat., Jun. 28, 4:30–5:30 p.m. This is literally the event title I have been waiting for my entire life. Are You Taking a Gamble on Your Academic Library Career by Having a Baby (or Two)? Mon., Jun. 30, 10:30–11:30 a.m. Unfortunately, worrying about tenure and job security isn’t just for faculty anymore. This year at ALA, ACRL is leading a discussion on whether academic librarians risk damaging their career prospects by starting a family.

Barbara A. Genco

Manager, Special Projects

International Developments in Library Linked Data: Think Globally, Act Globally, Parts 1 & 2 Sat., Jun. 28, 8:30–10 a.m. Speakers will address international developments in linked data emerging from libraries and other memory institutions. Continuing Education for Libraries: A National Conversation Sat., Jun. 28, 3–4 p.m. Robert Horton, associate deputy director for libraries, Institute of Museum and Library Services, will address the challenges to continuing education delivery. The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grant Celebration Sat., Jun. 28, 5:30–7:30 p.m. This annual recognition of librarians who foster a love of comics will take place at Caesars Palace. Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction Announcement Sat., Jun. 28, 8–10 p.m. These medals, established in 2012, recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the United States the previous year and are the first single-book awards for adult books given by ALA. Data Driven Collections: Integrating Evidence into Your Collection Maintenance and Development Procedures Sun., Jun. 29, 10:30–11:30 a.m. A panel of librarians will share their experiences with a variety of tools that help use evidence in collection maintenance and development procedures to manage budgets, track and map patron use patterns, coordinate weeding, and improve processes. Panel: Public Libraries and Digital Inclusion Sun., Jun. 29, 10:30–11:30 a.m. Local community and public library leaders discuss the roles public libraries play in building digitally inclusive communities and present selected findings from the Digital Inclusion Survey. Earn What You’re Worth: Salary Negotiation for Library Workers Sun., Jun. 29, 3–4 p.m. An interactive introduction to salary and nonsalary compensation issues to consider before you accept an offer and common barriers to success.

ljx140601webALA6Henrietta Verma

Reviews Editor

On Monday morning, I’ll be at the RSS Education & Professional Development for Reference Committee forum. The committee (of which I am a member) will gather librarians’ opinions on the state of reference education for our upcoming report. I’ll also be at the various publishers’ book buzzes, learning about what’s hot for fall, and at the following programs: Accessible eBooks: Ensuring That Your Library’s eContent Is Universally Accessible to All Sat., Jun. 28, 8:30–10 a.m. Making ebooks available shouldn’t even be in question, and this program will help librarians learn concrete steps and strategies for best serving all of their patrons. Wikipedia and Libraries: Increasing Your Library’s Visibility Sat., Jun. 28, 1–2:30 p.m. In the “if you can’t beat ’em” vein, librarians, including the director of Wikipedia Library, will describe how to make your library more visible as your patrons’ go-to source. Hear examples of how libraries are engaging with Wikipedia: hosting an editor, undertaking usage research, and using OCLC’s knowledgebase API and a Wikipedia script. Literary Tastes: Celebrating the Best Reading of the Year Sun., Jun. 29, 8–10 a.m. Authors discussing writing and their books: What better reason to go to ALA? Conversation Starter: We Make Everyday: How You’re (Most Likely) Already Doing the Makerspace Thing Mon., Jun. 30, 1:30–2:15 p.m. Sometimes you just have to know how to throw some jargon around. Learn how you already have a Maker space, or how to create one by taking only small steps.

Wilda Williams

Fiction Editor, Book Review

Of the book programs catching my eye, three are moderated by our own esteemed Barbara Hoffert, editor of LJ’s Prepub Alert: Hot Picks for Book Clubs; Quirky Books for Quirky Librarians; and Hot Books from Small Presses. Knowing how thoroughly she prepares for these panels, I know her audiences are in for some literary treats. The New Library Imprint: Libraries and Self-Publishing Sat., Jun. 28 8:30–10 a.m. Three librarians—from Provincetown PL, MA; SUNY at Geneseo; and Sacramento PL, CA—discuss the pros and cons of their self-publishing programs. Managing Challenges, Maximizing Impact: Policies and Practices for Controversial Programming Sat., Jun. 28 10:30–1:30 a.m. How can libraries offer high-quality programs on important but potentially polarizing topics while maintaining an environment conducive to civil discourse? Turning Books into a Cool New Tool: RA Marketing in the Age of Maker Spaces Sat., Jun. 28, 10:30–11:30 a.m. Marketing expert Tina Thomas and ­Duncan Smith of EBSCO’s NoveList discuss how to revitalize a key library service. PLIG Program: Out of the Box Book Clubs To Banish the Boring Sun., Jun. 29, 1–2:30 p.m. How to reinvigorate your book discussion, from the always innovative Library as Incubator Project, Princeton PL, and Darien PL.

ljx140601webALA7bLiz French

Senior Editor, Book Review

Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years Sat., Jun. 28, 10:30–11:30 a.m. I’m a fan of the Dark Knight in some incarnations: the campy Sixties TV show with all sorts of Hollywood heavy hitters of yesterday; the early Michael Keaton films (with Leo G. Carroll as Alfred, Jack Nicholson as the Joker, and Jerry Hall as his moll); Batman Returns, the first (and best) Frank Miller graphic novel from the late Eighties; even the newer movies with Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger. That’s why I’ll be celebrating with Pat Gleason (Lieutenant O’Hara in the TV series!), graphic novelist Pete Thomasi, and coauthors Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul of the new “The Flash” series and a DC Comics moderator. Happy birthday, Caped Crusader! I’m very interested in how the generations interact, both in the workplace and in public spaces: the youngs with the olds; the middle-agers with the upstarts; the old guard with the new; baby boomers with Gen X, Y, Millennials, you name it. That’s why I’m going to check out workshops having to do with placing young librarians, serving youth, getting them into libraries, and mentoring. Here are a few that caught my eye: Making a Mentorship Match: What Works, What Doesn’t, and What Can ALA Offer? Sat., Jun. 28, 8:30–10 a.m. Good mentorship is a thing of beauty, and a recent essay ( by reference librarian and LJ columnist (and a bit of a mentor herself) Cheryl LaGuardia got me thinking about how the generations can learn from and nourish one another. It’ll be interesting to hear about mentorship programs across ALA, as well as “best practices” for mentoring relationships. Children’s Librarians in the Lead: Managing Change, Inspiring Innovation & Empowering the Next Generation Sun., Jun. 29, 10:30–11:30 a.m. This program, sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ASLC), aims to give children’s librarians “practical front-line advice” for managing busy libraries, and it sounds like they’re going to talk about helping that next generation find their way into positions of leadership. Care and Feeding of Teen Volunteers Mon., Jun. 30, 8:30–10 a.m. It’ll be interesting to check out this program, also sponsored by ASLC, to learn how best to use these eager helpers-in-waiting. The agenda sounds ambitious to say the least: “We will also discuss ways to incorporate the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents into your program, thus creating a volunteer experience that can tie into economic, education and career development, advocacy for your library, and feed into the creation of more robust teen councils and teen programming.” Sounds like high school student council all over again—but with fancier tools. Jennifer Kahnweiler: Auditorium Speaker Series Mon., Jun. 30, 10:30–11:30 a.m. Finally, I want to hear from the silent super­heroes. Introverts are coming into their own these days, with books by Kahnweiler (Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference; The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength) and her colleague Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which was an LJ Best Book nominee for 2012) selling like gangbusters and scooping up accolades. Kahnweiler, billed as a “champion of introverts,” is appearing as an auditorium speaker on the ALCTS President’s Program, with a book signing to follow. I’ll try to stay quiet and soak up her tips for introverts to “build on their inherent strengths instead of trying to act like extroverts.” Sponsored by Elsevier.

ALAvegasWeb8bBette-Lee Fox

Managing Editor

Now Showing @ ALA Film Program

As video reviews editor for LJ’s Media section, I am delighted that ALA is presenting a fascinating group of documentaries over the course of the conference weekend. From a portrait of conservative politician Barry Goldwater—Mr. Conservative: Gold­water on Goldwater—and Defiant Requiem, about Nazi concentration camp Terezin, to a story of the subversive art of Tomi ­Ungerer in Far Out Isn’t Far Enough and The Pleasure of Being Out of Step, conversations with Nat Hentoff, and more, it will be difficult not to spend the entire conference at the movies. Check the ALA schedule for movie times, and choose wisely.

ljx140601webALA2bThe Las Vegas Convention Center is located at 3150 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, NV. With more than 775 exhibiting organizations, several lively pavilions and stages featuring the “hot” authors, and many events, the exhibit floor is an integral part of every ALA conference. It provides the opportunity to explore and chat with vendors about products, services, books, online features, tools, and technologies to keep your library at the top of its game.

Exhibit Hours

Friday, June 27  Opening Reception 5:30–7 p.m. Saturday, June 28  9 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday, June 29  9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday, June 30  9 a.m–2 p.m.

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