Library Lagniappe | ALA 2018 Preview

The American Library Association (ALA) annual conference returns to New Orleans, June 21–26, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. From a jam-packed four days of session and meeting offerings, below, LJ editors heading South curate a subjective selection of those that caught their eye.

The American Library Association (ALA) annual conference returns to New Orleans, June 21–26, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (MCC). This marks the second time since ALA was the first convention to return to the post-Katrina Crescent City in 2006 (annual was also held there in 2011). While the “Resilience in New Orleans: Rebuilding Libraries After Katrina” tour will visit libraries renovated or constructed since the storm, and the Sustainability Round Table hearkens back to that difficult period of the city’s history in its panel on “The Rising Tide: How Libraries Sustain a Planet in Crisis,” the conference schedule in general primarily grapples with the present and prepares for the future.

In the grand tradition of the Big Easy, librarians in attendance can expect to experience a little something extra, be it a preconference for female-identifying individuals who work with technology, a tour of independent schools in the region, volunteering for a daylong preservation project at a local cultural institution, taking racial healing training facilitated by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, or walking the French Quarter.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama will headline the opening session, an event as hotly anticipated as her forthcoming memoir. The programming lineup she launches takes on today’s most pressing social issues, among them homelessness, opioid use, services for transgender patrons, bias, inclusion, and the needs of refugees.

Big names include several from the world of stage and screen, such as Emilio Estevez with an advance screening of his movie The Public, about the Cincinnati Public Library, followed by a Q&A, as well as Sally Field and Viola Davis. From a jam-packed four days of session and meeting offerings, below, LJ editors heading South curate a subjective selection of those that caught their eye.—Meredith Schwartz

Matt Enis

Senior Editor, Technology

FOLIO Early Adopters Panel Sat., Jun. 23, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCC 214) In February, the FOLIO library services platform (LSP) project announced that support for unified resource management had been achieved in the platform’s first 2018 release. Now, the open source academic LSP is aiming for a beta release as soon as next month. It has been encouraging to see the early progress made by the initiative, and these panelists will discuss their plans for implementation and collaboration. The session description adds that “there will be plenty of time for questions from the audience.” Big Data in Libraries: Friend or Foe? Sat., Jun. 23, 1–2 p.m. (MCC 278) In this session sponsored by the Intellectual Freedom Round Table, Peter Brantley, director of scholarly communications for the Project, will debate Erin Berman, innovations manager for the San José PL, CA, and a 2016 LJ Mover & Shaker (M&S), regarding the implications of the collection and use of  “big data” in library settings. Library usage data and library patron information are often “aggregated and (usually) anonymized for varied purposes including trend analyses, grant funding, and reporting to local governments.... [But] can we collect such data and still guarantee the minimum standards of privacy for our library ­users?” William Marden, New York PL director of privacy and compliance, will moderate. Improving Internet Access in US Libraries: The Toward Gigabit Libraries Project Sat., Jun. 23, 1–2 p.m. (MCC 395–396) Susannah Spellman and James Werle of Internet 2 and library technology consultant Carson Block will share the results of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)–funded “­Toward Gigabit Libraries” project. The project aims to develop a self-­service toolkit that will help even novice staff at small or rural libraries create a broadband improvement plan—­including upgrades to hardware, software, and network configuration—and advocate locally for better connectivity. Pilot implementation in Alaska, ­Connecticut, Kansas, ­Nebraska, ­Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington is described as “overwhelmingly ­successful.” The Silences of (Big) Data: LITA President’s Program with Kendra Albert Sun., Jun. 24, 3–4 p.m. (MCC 260–262) Kendra Albert, technology lawyer and affiliate research associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, will discuss the concept of data silence in this presentation hosted by Library Information Technology Association president Andromeda Yelton (a 2013 M&S). Data has become “the substrate for human and algorithmic decision-making and funding.... But what can we infer when there is no or limited data?... Drawing upon the literature on archival silence…Albert will explore a number of potential reasons for data silences, from law to collection bias to subject disobedience.” AI Lab at a Library? Why Artificial Intelligence Matters & What Libraries Can Do Mon., Jun. 25, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCC 393) Bohyun Kim, associate professor, scholarly technology, University of Rhode Island (URI), will discuss the artificial intelligence (AI) lab recently created at URI Libraries in collaboration with the College of Engineering and Department of Computer Science. More broadly, Kim also plans to talk about why it is crucial for libraries to follow AI as a trend, as it will “have a far-reaching impact to almost every ­aspect of our lives in the near future, from education to economy. And libraries are no exception.”

Rebecca T. Miller

Editorial Director, LJ & SLJ

Zine Cultures as Critical Resistance: A Hands-on Workshop To Build Community Engagement and Student Learning Sat., Jun. 23, 9–10 a.m. (MCC 395–396) A panel of zinesters, zine librarians, and cultural scholars will convene a conversation addressing critical practices of literary and artistic resistance within zine cultures. Project Outcome: Three-Year Data Reflection & Future Activities Sat., Jun. 23, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCC 343) Three years in, the Public Library Association (PLA) will share an update on Project Outcome, its free online toolkit designed to help public libraries understand and share the impact of their programs and services and how it plans to continue to support and advance public libraries’ adoption of outcomes measurement. 2018 ALA/AIA Library Building Awards Mon., Jun. 25, 1:30–4 p.m. (offsite location TBA) Cosponsored by ALA and the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the annual competition recognizes excellence in library design. For more about this year’s winners, see News, p. 15ff.

Kiera Parrott

Reviews Director, LJ & SLJ

LITA Diversity & Inclusion Edit-a-Thon Sat., Jun. 23, 9–10 a.m. (MCC 393) The LITA Diversity & Inclusion committee is spearheading a volunteer effort to increase the information that is available on Wikipedia about notable people from underrepresented groups, as well as to create a toolkit. Bullying, Trolling, and Doxxing, Oh My! Protecting Our Advocacy and Public Discourse Around Diversity and Social Justice Sat., Jun. 23, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCC 295) The panelists will share their experiences of being targeted for harassment because of social justice work and suggest actionable interventions and strategies of support and prevention for administrators, colleagues, and professional organizations. 21st Century Collection Development for Media Sat., Jun. 23, 2:30–3:30 p.m. (MCC 278) Academic and public librarians will ­discuss the film-to-library ecosystem and its import for collection development and services, including collaborative approaches to building effective streaming video collections, educating users about format and licensing options, collaborating with institutional diversity initiatives, and implementing streaming video opportunities at branch or satellite locations. Diversity and Inclusivity from the Perspective of Libraries/Publishing/Authors in the Industry Sun., Jun. 24, 10:30–11:20 a.m. (MCC Graphic Novel/Gaming Stage) The inclusion of positive representation for marginalized groups in all media has grown, but the need has not diminished. How has the conversation around increasing diversity in literature changed? How has the ground that’s been covered altered the landscape? Cultural Competence & Collaborative Conversations: A Path to Providing Equitable Services for Multicultural Patrons Sun., Jun. 24, 1–2 p.m. (MCC 286–287) In 2016, Colorado’s Arapahoe Libraries introduced two Intercultural Librarian positions, tasked with supporting and improving the district’s services to underserved populations. They’ll share findings on how they developed and implemented staff training grounded in cultural competence and inter­sectionality, provide materials and best practices, and review the community benefits.

Lisa Peet

Associate Editor, News

Opening General Session featuring Michelle Obama Fri., Jun. 22, 4–5:30 p.m. (MCC Exhibit Hall F) Michelle Obama is wonderfully poised to become a strategic, effective, and savvy advocate for libraries. So it will be a pleasure to see her front and center at ALA sharing her thoughts, as well as talking about her upcoming memoir, Becoming (Crown), and what she might be up to next. Understanding and Using Spatial Humanities: Digital Mapping at the Forefront of Scholarly Research Sat., Jun. 23, 8:30–10 a.m. (MCC 281–282) An interdisciplinary merger of digital humanities and geographic information systems, spatial humanities uses technology to explore the roles space and place play in humanities studies. This panel of professors and librarians will help define the concept, give examples of successful projects, and offer up resources and tools, as well as strategies that other institutions can use to support their own practices. Screening of the film The Public and Q&A with filmmaker Emilio Estevez, moderated by Ryan J. Dowd Sat., Jun. 23, 2:30–5:30 p.m. (MCC, New Orleans Theater A) Writer/director/actor Emilio Estevez will be screening The Public, his new film about librarians, patrons, homelessness, and city bureaucracy, featuring the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in a starring role. Following the film will be a Q&A with Estevez moderated by Ryan J. Dowd, executive director of Hesed House, a shelter in Aurora, IL. Diverse Users, Diverse Collections: Global Popular Culture Made Local Sun., Jun. 24, 9–10 a.m. (MCC 393) The session’s specialist librarians will explore the challenges—and opportunities—involved in building international collections from Bollywood to K-pop.

Meredith Schwartz

Executive Editor

Bringing Life to Your Library Services with 360˚ Virtual Tours Sat., Jun. 23, 9–10 a.m. (MCC 289) I had no idea till I read this session’s description that libraries can now embed text, links, pictures, and video in virtual tours, providing library instruction and information access, not just a preview of the physical space. Hands-on practitioners will share tools and options. Gender and Sexuality in Science Fiction and Fantasy Sat., Jun. 23, 4–5 p.m. (MCC 395–396) I’m extremely sad that I will arrive too late for what looks like a fascinating panel: authors Seanan McGuire, Nnedi Okorafor, Jacqueline Carey, and Sherrilyn Kenyon will discuss how fantasy and sf reflect our changing cultural understanding of gender and sexuality and our aspirations for the future. Transforming Spaces: Promoting Inclusion in and Through Library Interiors Sun., Jun. 24, 9–10 a.m. (MCC 283) After researching an article on inclusive restrooms, I’ve had my eyes opened to how building design can reflect and advance library values. I’m looking forward to learning about sensory spaces, prayer and meditation rooms, and more in this Ignite-style session. (G)LAMonomics: The Economic Drivers and Barriers to Collaboration Across Libraries, Archives and Museums Sun., Jun. 24, 10:30–11:30 p.m. (MCC 391) There’s a lot libraries, archives, and museums can accomplish together, but sometimes separate funding streams lead to reinventing the wheel. Using a forum structure, this session will ­address both economic drivers of and barriers to collaboration, covering education and training, interoperable descriptive systems, disaster preparedness and preservation, and joint advocacy efforts. Supporting Diversity Through Social Media and What To Do When This Is Challenged Sun., Jun. 24, 2:30–3:30 p.m. (MCC 395–396) Librarians from Indianapolis PL will present on how they’re speaking up on social media for patrons who are targets of bias and how they respond to challenges. They had me at “Ready to get a little uncomfortable in order to serve your communities best?” When To Speak Up, When To Listen: Allyship, Race, and Communication in the Academic Library Mon., Jun. 25, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCC 392) The panel will discuss how racial identity influences communication styles as allies: how to balance when to be silent and when to lend a voice and speak up. The participants will examine examples of classroom teaching, one-on-one research consultations, and staff meetings. Though specifically aimed at an academic audience, this session seems likely to have takeaways for other types of libraries and in association governance as well.

ALA the Hoffert Way

United for Libraries has a way with an author program (or four), and who better to moderate them than LJ’s own Prepub Alert editor Barbara Hoffert. Don’t blink, or she’ll be off to the next panel. All events are held at the Morial Convention Center.

Ellen Byron


It’s a Mystery to Me 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCC 286–287) Authors of “whodunits”—Robert Olen Butler (Paris in the Dark), Ellen ­Byron (Mardi Gras Murder), Jude Devereaux (A Willing Murder), Deborah LeBlanc (Witch’s Fury), and Amy Stewart (Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit)—will discuss their latest books and their mysterious lives. Author signing to follow. Reads Like Fiction: Nonfiction You Can’t Put Down 2:30–3:30 p.m. (MCC 286–287) Compelling stories about real-life events from Eugenia Cheng (The Art of Logic in an Illogical World), Nicole Chung (All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir), Kelly Jensen, ed. ([Don’t] Call Me Crazy): 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health), Anne Boyd Rioux (Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters), and Sarah Weinman (The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World). Signing follows.

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

First Author, First Book 4–5 p.m. (MCC 286–287) It’s inspiring when people step out for the first time and produce a debut novel. Bryan Camp (The City of Lost Fortunes), Malcolm Hansen (They Come in All Colors), Marjorie Herrera Lewis (When the Men Were Gone), Mesha Maren (Sugar Run), and Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (House of Stone) tell us how they did it. Could they be the literary stars of tomorrow? Author signing.


Isn’t it Romantic? 10:30–11:30 a.m. (MCC 286–287) Show some love to Grace Burrowes (A Rogue of Her Own), ­Jasmine Guillory (The Proposal), Jill Shalvis (Hot Winter Nights), RaeAnne Thayne (Season of Wonder); and Anne Youngson (Meet Me at the Museum) and hear about their ­latest titles. Signing to follow.

Lou Berney


Gala Author Toast sponsored by ReferenceUSA 2–4 p.m. (Hilton, Jefferson) United for Libraries. Barbara Hoffert is not moderating this event, but there will still be authors and reasons to celebrate. Come see Lou Berney (November Road), Leif Enger (Virgil Wander), Susan Orlean (The Library Book), Taylor Jenkins Reid (Daisy Jones & the Six), and Lisa Unger (Under My Skin) and raise a glass. Light snacks and a book signing, too. Get tickets ($65) early. Event code: UNI3.


Ernest N. Morial Convention Center 900 Convention Center Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70130

With more than 900 exhibitors, specialty pavilions, and presentation stages, the show floor offers much to see and experience.

HOURS: Friday, June 22, Opening Reception 5:30–7 p.m.; Saturday, June 23, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday, June 24, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Monday, June 25, closing events on the exhibit floor, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
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