Getting Real @ Annual | ALA 2016 Preview

Kvetching about the location of the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference is practically a rite of passage. While the meeting has been held in many unquestionably great American cities, the association’s quest for affordable conference and hotel space in quantity tends to drive it to cold places in winter and hot in summer, and a certain amount of transit snafus and frayed tempers inevitably result. Objections to the location of this year’s ALA, running June 23–28 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, however, are on a completely different level.


Kvetching about the location of the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference is practically a rite of passage. While the meeting has been held in many unquestionably great American cities, the association’s quest for affordable conference and hotel space in quantity tends to drive it to cold places in winter and hot in summer, and a certain amount of transit snafus and frayed tempers inevitably result.

Objections to the location of this year’s ALA, running June 23–28 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, however, are on a completely different level. After the 2012 shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, Zimmerman’s subsequent successful 2013 defense in court under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, and the state’s refusal to reconsider the legislation, the Black Caucus of ALA (BCALA) and many other librarians called on the organization to relocate the already-scheduled event to another state.

Ultimately, ALA decided that course was impractical—the fees and penalties for withdrawing would be too high for the organization’s finances to withstand, not to mention the problem of finding an affordable replacement on short notice in conference-planning terms, especially when many other states have similar laws on the books. Instead, after “actively engaging in conversation” with BCALA and other ethnic caucuses’ leadership, ALA chose to turn the site debate “into an opportunity to educate, build awareness, and advocate for equitable treatment, inclusion, and respect for diversity,” ALA and those caucuses announced in a joint statement.

ljx160601webALA2ALA formed a Special Presidential Task Force involving members of the ethnic affiliates and ALA “to develop programs and other opportunities for members to learn about and engage in the issue, build strong advocacy and awareness while at the Orlando conference, and develop communications directed toward the public.... The goal is to use the Orlando conference platform to provoke a national dialogue.”

That national dialog has been intensified by the recent decision on the part of Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) to cancel its much smaller and less revenue-generating National Institute in North Carolina in the wake of the controversial HB 2 “Bathroom Bill,” which, among other things, prevents transgender people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

The goal of developing programs to address the pressing issue seems to have been thoroughly met. Not only have Town Halls been held at preceding conferences, but peppered through the schedule are many sessions on diversity, inclusion, and combating racism both within librarianship and in the communities libraries serve. (Many are included in the following LJ picks; a list of all the diversity related events is available at; the schedule as a whole can be found at

With diversity and inclusion also figuring as one of the primary organizational goals embraced by President-elect Jim Neal (and, indeed, all the candidates), it is clear ALA intends to go at the problem within the field head-on, both in Orlando and in the future.

ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (DLOS) is working with the Orange County Library System (OCLS) to create a list of local minority- and women-owned businesses in Orlando, which will be available on the conference website in early June, as will a resource page about the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is working with Libraries Build Communities on a small-scale volunteer project with Summer BreakSpot and a service project for OCLS; at press time, details were not yet finalized.

Of other plans ALA made in its joint statement when it chose to remain in Orlando—collaborations with local black and/or Latino community members and outreach to national organizations with a vested interest in Stand Your Ground Laws—Jody Gray, director of DLOS, told LJ, “Several folks have reached out to various Florida state associations and organizations, but we were not able to develop a larger program at this point. That being said, [DLOS] is continuing to explore alternative programming concerning these issues.”

While there’s no organized boycott, it’s also not yet clear how many individual members will decide to stay home, especially in a year in which travel budgets for public librarians had to stretch to cover the successful Public Library Association conference, held in April. The previous Orlando ALA, in 2004, was not one of the most heavily attended, at 19,546, compared to 27,962 in Chicago in 2005. The potential for a drop in attendance, as well as the many librarians and library workers who seldom or never get to attend a national conference, highlights the critical importance of ALA’s pledge to support dialog at the state level as well. In the meantime, those who come to Orlando can expect an ambitious program of getting real about all the challenges facing libraries today.—Meredith Schwartz

Matt Enis

Senior Editor, Technology

Digital Privacy and Security: Keeping You and Your Library Safe and Secure in a Post-Snowden World

Fri., Jun. 24, 1–4 p.m.

During this three-hour, ticketed event, LYRASIS’s Blake Carver (a 2002 LJ Movers & Shaker) and Alison Macrina from the Library Freedom Project (a 2015 LJ M&S) discuss practical, how-to strategies to help libraries and patrons protect their data and personal information in a world of digital surveillance and criminal hacking.

Executive Perspectives: A Strategic View of the Library Technology Industry

Sat., Jun. 25, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Library systems and automation expert Marshall Breeding will moderate a panel of library vendor executives, offering insights into current technology and business trends. Although panelists had not been confirmed at press time, speakers will include representatives from commercial vendors and open source projects and will reflect for-profit and nonprofit perspectives.

Women in Library Technology Leadership

Sun. Jun. 26, 8:30–10 a.m.

Great panel featuring Michelle Frisque, chief of technology, content and innovation for the Chicago Public Library; Jenn Riley, associate dean, digital initiatives, McGill University Library; Karen Estlund, associate dean for technology and digital strategies, Penn State University Libraries; Monique Sendze, chief technology and innovation officer, Tulsa City-County Library; and Brandy McNeil, associate director, technology education and training, New York Public Library.

LITA Top Tech Trends

Sun., Jun. 26, 1–2:30 p.m.

This popular session always features a thought-provoking mix of current, emerging, and conceptual technology trends, discussed by a panel of experts who contextualize the impact on the library world. This year’s speakers had not been finalized at press time, but interested attendees can check for updates.

LITA Presidents Program

Sun., Jun. 26, 3–4 p.m.

UCLA professor Safia Noble will discuss ways in which digital technology and its narratives are not as impartial as some may believe. Cosponsored by ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, this talk will examine the intersection of race, gender, culture, and technology.

Stephanie Klose

Reviews Manager

Further down the Alphabet—Embracing B Movies!

Sat., Jun. 25, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Finding A-list films and current blockbusters can be pretty straightforward, but there’s a world of B, C, and D productions out there that patrons love, too. No need to hide in terror from requests for films about mutant vegetables! Further down the list, see my B, C, and D picks for this time slot, too.

From Vietnam to Syria: Refugees, Their Stories, and Needs

Sat., Jun. 25, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Many parallels can be drawn between the refugee crisis during the Vietnam War and the current crisis in the Middle East. Panelists will discuss the role libraries can play in aiding the millions of refugees and unaccompanied refugee children in their time of need.

Diverse Books from Across the Globe

Sat., Jun. 25, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

How can the local library help voices from emerging markets and developing countries to be heard? How can we make their books available to refugee populations and foreign-language speakers across the United States?

Nuts & Bolts of Supervision

Sat., Jun. 25, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Are you a new or aspiring manager? Are there questions about your role and responsibilities that you haven’t felt comfortable asking your employer, or are you unsure of how to handle unmotivated employees, absent management, or patrons who blur the line of legally acceptable conduct? In this Q&A, attendees will have the opportunity to ask all these questions and more.

Don’t Just Roll the Dice: Simple Solutions for Circulating Game Collections Effectively

Sun., Jun. 26, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

This program will show you some tips and tricks for preserving and processing a table top game collection for efficient circulation. See the results of a yearlong research project that evaluated several preservation and processing techniques for extending the life of gaming materials.

Rebecca T. Miller

Editorial Director

Lilead Project Fellows Present

Sat., Jun. 25–Sun. Jun. 26, various times

The dynamic district-level leaders known as the Lilead Fellows, whose founders are 2016 LJ Movers & Shakers, will share the findings and insights from their projects

in some 20 fast presentations at Junior Library Guild (JLG) Booth #1345 on the show floor, sponsored by LJ sister company JLG; see the full schedule at

Sustainable Thinking

Sat., Jun. 25, 8:30–10 a.m.

NYLA Sustainability Initiative cocreators Matthew Bollerman and Rebekkah Smith Aldrich (who is a 2010 LJ M&S and pens LJ’s sustainability column) point to the “Triple Bottom Line” that takes the definition way beyond “green” to redefine what we mean when we talk about sustainability. I’m proud to be part of this initiative and hope all librarians will learn from its work.

Margaret A. Edwards Award Brunch

Sat., Jun. 25, 10:30 a.m.–noon

Help celebrate the work of author and editor David Levithan, winner of the 2016 Margaret A. Edwards Award, at this ticketed event, administered by YALSA and sponsored by LJ sister publication School Library Journal. Levithan was cited for works such as The Realm of Possibility, Boy Meets Boy, Love Is the Higher Law, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, cowritten with ­Rachel Cohn.

Sharing Our Good Work: Connecting the Community Interested in Library Research

Sat., Jun. 25, 1–2:30 p.m.

Library research gets a boost here as library education leaders gather to talk about how to maximize the impact of this important work. Panelists include Ann Ewbank, Montana State University; Lucy Santos Green, Georgia Southern University; Lindsay Sarin, iSchool, University of Maryland; and yours truly.

The Power of Performance: Project Outcome

Sat., Jun. 25, 3–4 p.m.

Outcomes continue to appeal just as they can be elusive to express. Anyone interested in understanding them better should ink this in their calendars.

Strengthening Relationships and Experiences with Students Through Personal Librarian Programs

Sun., Jun. 26, 8:30–10 a.m.

Hear about this high engagement approach to serving first-year students and beyond from three libraries that have implemented and assessed the strategy.

ALA/IIDA Library Interiors Design Awards

Sun., Jun. 26, 1–2:30 p.m.

Get a boost and inspiration as you explore and celebrate the winners of the biennial ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Awards, cosponsored by ALA and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). (For more on the awards, see “Building Excellence,” Library by Design, Spring 2016, p. 7ff.)

Digital Preservation Education: Choosing the Options That Are Right for You

Sun., Jun. 26; 1–2:30 p.m.

Of course, if you’d rather think about the vital need to preserve digital objects, check this program out instead.

The Art of Asking: Salary Negotiation for Library Workers

Sun., Jun. 26; 1–2:30 p.m.

If neither of those two suit for a post-lunch session, catch this panel and working session on salary negotiations with the inimitable Maureen Sullivan and others.

Conversation Starter: How To Get Beyondthe “Agree” Button in Privacy Policies: Making Privacy Awareness an Everyday Topic in Libraries

Sun., Jun. 26, 4–4:45 p.m.

A compelling topic made more compelling by the masterminds at the center of this conversation: Bill Marden, director of Data Privacy at the New York Public Library, and Bonnie Tijerina, fellow at the Data & Society Institute in New York City and founder of Electronic Resources & ­Libraries.

Kiera Parrott

Reviews Director

Unpacking ESSA for the Library Eco-System

Fri., Jun. 24, 8–9:30 a.m.

President Obama recently signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which includes specific language about the inclusion of school libraries. This is a monumental change that will continue to have ripple effects in both school and public libraries.

Tribal Voices: Power & Meaning Through Authentic Expression

Sat., Jun. 25, 8:30–10 a.m.

Sponsored by the American Indian Library Association, this program will appeal to anyone passionate about diversity and social change.

Being Intentional About Your Culture

Sat., Jun. 25, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Library managers, directors, and team leaders often spend a great deal of time doing strategic planning and focusing on goal setting and achievement. But how often do we pay attention to one of the most fundamental drivers of innovation: culture?

Diverse and Inclusive Metadata: Developing Cultural Competencies in Descriptive Practices

Sat., Jun. 25, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

A deep dive into metadata and cataloging conventions with a keen eye toward cultural competencies and inclusive practices.

Lisa Peet

Associate News Editor

Knight News Challenge Libraries—2016 Challenge Winners Announcement

Sat., Jun. 25, 1–2:30 p.m.

This is one session that I know I’m attending, since I’m on the panel. For its latest News Challenge, the Knight Foundation asked applicants to submit ideas that answer the question: “How might libraries meet 21st century information needs?” This year’s winners will be announced, and we’ll also take time to discuss some of the transformational changes happening in the field.

Librishers and Pubraries: Explore Library Publishing and University Presses Within Libraries

Sat., Jun. 25, 3–4 p.m.

Fortunately, you don’t have to say the hard-to-pronounce panel title out loud to attend. As academic libraries increasingly integrate, collaborate, and share roles with university presses, both sides need to look at how they will negotiate funding, sustainability, open models, and other aspects of the new scholarly publishing landscape.

Planting the Seeds: Libraries and Librarians as Change Agents for Sustainability Within Their Communities

Sun., Jun. 26, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Libraries are calling for sustainability on every front, and this panel will be examining some of the forms this may take—the STEM/sustainability connection, waste reduction initiatives, campus dialogs, and urban farming—and looking at what that means for change within their ­communities.

How To Implement Things When People Hate Change

Sun., Jun. 26, 3–4 p.m.

Contrary to what the offerings at this year’s conference might have you believe, not everyone in the library field is interested in the next new thing. Panelists will be looking into what happens when innovation meets resistance and offer ideas, advice, and a Q&A session in which attendees can talk about their own gridlocks.

Meredith Schwartz

Executive Editor

Inter-cultural Programs and Academic Libraries: An Urban Perspective

Sat., Jun. 25, 8:30–10 a.m.

Often, addressing issues of diversity and inclusion through programming is thought of as primarily a public library mission. But the outpouring of protest on college campuses—and the often-central role the academic library plays as a site of such demonstrations—shows how important it is for academic libraries to consider how they, too, can engage with issues of social justice. This session offers hands-on examples of how academic librarians are tackling this challenge.

Taking Libraries Transform and the Policy Revolution! to the New Presidential Administration

Sat., Jun. 25, 10:30–1:30 a.m.

While it’s hard to envision how advocating for libraries to the next president will go with the election result still up in the air, it’s also all the more crucial to have a strategy. I’m excited to see ALA’s Washington Office and United for Libraries getting ahead of the game with this planning session, especially with ALA’s newly elected treasurer Susan Hildreth bringing her experience as the former head of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to the table as one of the panelists.

Serving up the Subversive

Sat., Jun. 25, 1–2:30 p.m.

Sponsored by the Intellectual Freedom Committee, this conversation excites me because it includes archivists, curators, librarians, and educators all together, not just one strand, addressing how they handle controversial materials. I’m also pleased to see the question “how do we move towards a true(r) version of inclusiveness” on the table, since often questions of creating a culture of inclusion and questions of intellectual freedom are framed as opposing values.

No Room at the Library: The Ethics of Diversity

Sun., Jun. 26 1–2:30 p.m.

Speaker 2007 LJ Mover & Shaker Loida García-Febo and a panel of leaders will facilitate audience discussion after the Ethics Committee performs three different skits showcasing ethical dilemmas involving religious, cultural, and LGBTQ issues.

Legal Resources Libraries/Librarians Need To Support Their Communities

Sun., Jun. 26, 2–3:30 p.m.

In this BCALA President’s Program, Lindsay Lewis, criminal defense attorney who vets the 13-volume “Know Your Rights” series (Rosen), will address criminal justice issues that are most urgent for minority populations and explain how lawyers and librarians can begin to tackle them.

The Library Cottage Industry: A Theoretical Economic Framework

Mon., Jun. 27, 8:30–10 a.m.

This is a lot more high level than the practical programs I usually pick. I’m intrigued by the idea that “libraries are the center of minor craft production and manufacturing.” While I’m of course familiar with the many Making activities going on at libraries, I’m accustomed to thinking of them primarily as learning opportunities—perhaps drivers of future economic contributions as patrons move on to better employment or entrepreneurship outside of the library but not of present ones. This presentation will tackle many of the new usual suspects: 3-D printers, robotics, and software development. I’m fascinated to see them through the lens of economics, “developing and providing basic amenities of life including tools, entertainment, or decorations” and reducing overhead costs.

Stephanie Sendaula

Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

Active Shooter Policies in Libraries

Sat., Jun. 25, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

In the wake of the tragic events at San Bernardino in 2015, institutions such as hospitals and churches have developed active shooter policies. Thankfully, the North Dakota State Library is here to help. Get advice on how to protect yourself (and your patrons), write a policy, and establish a procedure.

We Need Diverse Books and More: Multiple Diversities; Capturing the Experience of Intersectional Identities

Sat., Jun. 25, 1–2:30 p.m.

I make a point to attend a We Need Diverse Books (a 2015 LJ Mover & Shaker) panel at each conference I go to. I’m excited about this one because of the focus on inter­sectionality, or facing two or more forms of oppression. “What is the experience of an Indian dancer who is an amputee? How does one write about a gay Latina?” This discussion may lead to more questions than answers, but that’s okay, too.

Literacy Inside and Out: Services to Incarcerated and Newly-Released Adults and Their Families

Sun., Jun. 26, 8:30–10 a.m.

Sadly, I never gave much thought to newly released adults until a former patron once mentioned that he was struggling to readjust to the outside world. This led me to wonder: How many patrons never ask for help? This panel caters to both prison and public librarians, focusing on how we can support families affected by incarceration.

#BlackLivesMatter: Documenting a Digital Protest Movement

Sun., Jun. 26, 1–2:30 p.m.

Three years into the #BlackLivesMatter movement, a team of academics, archivists, and librarians share the ways in which they are documenting and preserving the movement’s digital history for students and scholars. This panel is a solid reminder that how we document today affects the generations of tomorrow. For more on tackling the challenges of documenting current social movements on social media, see “DocNow: Saving Social Media,” News, LJ 5/15/16, p. 12.)

Serving New Immigrants Through Partnerships and Federal Resources

Sun., Jun. 26, 1–2:30 p.m.

Many of us already know that new immigrants rely on public library services such as ELL and computer classes. But I didn’t know that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) partnered with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). At this panel, both organizations will explain how you can successfully perform outreach to this growing population. For more on serving immigrants and New Americans, see “Celebration & Integration,” p. 48ff.)


West Building of the Orange County Convention Center 9800 International Drive, Orlando, FL

Each year, ALA offers more events and activities on the floor of the convention center. This year has cooking demos, comics artists at work, author presentations, and interviews galore, aside from all those vendors and lovely signings.


Friday, June 24 Opening Reception 5:30–7 p.m Saturday, June 25 9 a.m.–5 p.m Sunday, June 26 9 a.m.–5 p.m Monday, June 27 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

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Really Annoyed Librarian

As an academic librarian in Central Florida, this faux social concern for minority group safety in light of Florida's Stand Your Ground Law is just pathetic and transparently partisan. SYG had nothing to do with the Zimmerman case or his pursuit of Martin that night as bore out by the facts of the case - not the spin. I thought we are supposed to teach about information literacy and how to locate, evaluate, and utilize information. More importantly, we teach how to navigate through partisan agendas and bias during national debates, especially when the partisan agendas are hijacking the headlines to exploit the tragedy to advance their own political agenda and world view. Perhaps Meredith Schwartz should seek out a librarian for assistance when researching her articles, being her Linkedin shows she has no MLIS or library experience. Show me one credible source that says Zimmerman used the Stand Your Ground law as a successful defense in court -- not a single authoritative article or law expert makes that claim. From the Left leaning Washington Post: "As a legal matter, Zimmerman’s attorney did not raise a “stand your ground” defense at the trial." Thus the contention Zimmerman used SYG as the basis for his successful defense is only reality among those on the Left, not bore out by a single fact of the case, to be inaccurately repeated in their media echo chamber, which LJ parrots. The social justice warriors did not care about Trayvon's life, all they care about is posturing up against a Republican/NRA political agenda, as they were against SYG from the moment it was legislated into existence - waiting for the first chance to exploit it for their political gain. While I am no Zimmerman fanboy, especially in light of his actions in recent years, the all FEMALE jury found Zimmerman had the right to SELF-DEFENSE. ***Self-defense was the successful defense Zimmerman's lawyers used -- a law that is present in some form in all 50 states and does not require the assailant to be armed with a gun -- perhaps next ALA conference should be held on a cruise ship to avoid the potentials dangers of America's self-defense laws. Any examples of law abiding minorities being randomly targeted and attacked by vigilante Stand Your Ground gun-nut? Being the Zimmerman incident was not one of those, where is an example of this existential threat to ALA attendees? I am waiting for the editorial board at LJ to figure out some way to blame the Koch Brothers and libertarians for the shooting at Pulse next. Meanwhile in the Nation of Islam and ALA's home of Chi-raq, 42 people were shot and 7 were killed just this weekend, and 279 murders so far in 2016. How safe again are those streets for visiting librarians, Jewish people, and other minorities? Outrage anyone? No? Why? What political party controls that area... hmmmm?

Posted : Jun 15, 2016 04:59


Can't you all get over Orlando as the location? Everyone whined and complained back in 2004 in Orlando, too. Do you think -7 in Denver or Vegas in June was pleasant?! Or the transportation hassles in Chicago or DC?! And if we took every cities issues into consideration, *regardless of diversity*, we would have no where to meet. .. I support diversity and inclusion in and outside of libraries, but where is the concern or outcry on issues of low pay for librarians, gender inequity in opportunities for librarians, actual issues effecting librarians *ALA* and everyone?!!

Posted : Jun 04, 2016 02:51

Michael Golrick

As someone on the Exec Board in '04, I can tell you that the complaints were mostly not about the temps. Some were about logistics - there were hotels many, many miles away. Others were about promised amenities - the buses along International Drive often were completely full, did not stop even when not full, and were not nearly as frequent as had been promised. And an additional complaint was the unregulated cab industry whose pricing was at best erratic. The contract signed was for two events, and at that conference the Exec Board asked to move the second one (this one) back several years to allow the city/county/convention folks to work on our issues. It was a big issue. LJ is simply covering what has happened. BTW, the choice of Vegas was based on member requests that we go there. I hope it does not happen again, and it is not because of the heat, but because of the logistics of Vegas as a city for a conference. I did not enjoy the location for the conference. (And I have been there several times in the past, with great enjoyment.)

Posted : Jun 04, 2016 02:51



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