On the Hill | ALA Preview 2019

Libraries are the heart of their communities, and this year’s American Library Association (ALA) annual conference will take place in the heart of national policymaking: Washington, DC. The conference, running June 20–25 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and surrounding venues, will take ample advantage of its setting: highlights include a tour of DC area library branches (alas, already sold out) and hosting not only Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden (in conversation with Palaces of the People author Eric Klinenberg) as an auditorium speaker, but also Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The American Library Association’s annual conference returns to Washington, DC

Libraries are the heart of their communities, and this year’s American Library Association (ALA) annual conference will take place in the heart of national policymaking: Washington, DC. The conference, running June 20–25 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and surrounding venues, will take ample advantage of its setting: highlights include a tour of DC area library branches (alas, already sold out) and hosting not only Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden (in conversation with Palaces of the People author Eric Klinenberg on Saturday at 3 p.m.) as an auditorium speaker, but also Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who will address the crowd Saturday morning at 8:30.

Among the other headliners are actor and activist George Takei; Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Blood and Bone; and closing speaker CBS journalist Mo Rocca, moderated by LJ’s own Barbara Hoffert.

This annual we can also expect to see incremental progress and updates on ALA’s own reorganization plans, with some significant structural changes to governance and/or the Midwinter Meeting potentially on the table. Five input sessions at different times give attendees ample opportunity to weigh in.

Below are just a smattering of the conference’s many offerings, personally curated by LJ editors attending the conference. For the full schedule, see 2019.alaannual.org.


Mahnaz Dar
Reference & Professional Reading Editor

Don’t Be Afraid of Horror
Sat., Jun. 22, 1-1:50 p.m. (WCC PopTop Stage)
Budding young serial killers, changelings, and possessions—you’ve got to be made of stern stuff to be a horror fan. Is it any wonder that many librarians are overwhelmed at the thought of doing readers’ advisory for this genre? Last year LJ offered some words of wisdom on the topic (“Fear Not: Genre Spotlight, Horror”), but there’s still plenty to discuss. As a longtime lover of all things macabre, I’m eager to see what these authors have to say about subgenres and how to match readers with the right book.

Black Voices in Comics
Sat., Jun. 22, 3:30-4:20 p.m. (WCC Graphic Novel/Gaming Stage)
Comics have long been dominated by white male contributors. But that’s changing. At this panel, several black cartoonists will discuss their work and talk about why representation is crucial. C. Spike Trotman is the founder of Iron Circus Comics, which since 2007 has published subversive and original works including FTL Y’all, Melanie Gillman’s As the Crow Flies, and Blue Delliquanti and Soleil Ho’s Meal. Joel Christian Gill has a knack for making black history fun and informative, as in his Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield’s First Ride. And Ezra Claytan Daniels’s BTTM FDRS, a surreal skewering of gentrification, is social commentary at its best.

Hate Speech and Libraries
Sat., Jun. 22, 1-2 p.m. (Marriott Marquis, Supreme Court)
What do you do if a white supremacist group asks to use library space? Last year, ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom and Council (IFC) stated that protections of First Amendment rights extended to safeguarding hate speech. Libraries that choose to allow groups to use meeting room space “cannot exclude religious, social, civic, partisan political, or hate groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities,” said the IFC. In response to the inclusion of “hate groups,” librarians voiced their outrage on Twitter using the hashtag #NoHateALA. The IFC has since revised the policy, but the issue still resonates. This session will offer the opportunity to discuss how to respond to hate speech in the library.

Censorship Beyond Books
Sun., Jun. 23, 10:30-11:30 a.m. (WCC 158A-B)
Librarians are used to fielding book challenges—we’ve got a whole week devoted to celebrating banned books. But what happens when patrons attack nonbook resources? These librarians will discuss their experiences with censorship, from a patron complaining about a Black Lives Matter display in the children’s department at Pikes Peak Library District to a challenge to the Saint Paul Public Library’s Drag Queen Story Hour.


Matt Enis
Senior Editor, Technology

Coding @ the Library: Lessons Learned from IMLS Funded Projects for Jumpstarting Computer Science Programs in Your Library
Sat., Jun. 22, 9–10 a.m. (WCC 140B)
This panel will present updates on four major library coding programs. Building on ALA’s Ready to Code Initiative, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) have partnered to develop a train-the-trainers program for 11,000 library staff nationwide. The North Dakota State Library is exploring informal coding programs at 50 small and rural libraries throughout the United States. The University of Colorado, Boulder, is working with the Boulder Public Library and Denver Public Library to study the cultivation of computer literacy with parents and children. And the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology at Arizona State University has partnered with the University of Michigan School of Information to facilitate the professional development of 12 public librarians in three public library systems using the CompuGirls model.

Blockchain: Transforming the Technological Future
Sat., Jun. 22, 10:30–11:30 a.m. (WCC 149A-B)
Although cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin get the most coverage in the mainstream press, there are many applications for the underlying blockchain technology that may be useful for libraries. Sandy Hirsh and Sue Alman from the San Jose State University iSchool have been leading an IMLS-funded investigation into the feasibility of the use of blockchain in information professions. They’ll be joined by Library Information Technology Association (LITA) President and CTO of University of Rhode Island Libraries Bohyun Kim, library technology consultant Jason Griffey, and John Bracken, executive director of the Digital Public Library of America.

Casting Light on the Dark Web: Dispelling Myths and Using It To Preserve your Anonymity
Sun., Jun. 23, 9–10 a.m. (WCC 143A)
Brady Lund, doctoral student in Emporia State University’s School of Library and Information Management, and co-author of an upcoming LITA Guide on the Dark Web and Libraries, will present on the the dark web’s history, how to use tools such as the TOR browser and the I2P network layer to navigate it, and how it can be used in libraries “including the benefits and challenges you might face.”

LITA President’s Program with Meredith Broussard: Artificial Unintelligence
Sun., Jun. 23, 3–4 p.m. (WCC 146A)
Meredith Broussard, New York University professor and author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World will discuss her research on artificial intelligence (AI) in investigative reporting and data analysis for social good. “She is also interested in reproducible research issues and is developing methods for preserving innovative digital journalism projects in scholarly archives so that we can read today’s news on tomorrow’s computers.”

XR (Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality) Programming in Libraries
Mon., Jun. 24, 4–5 p.m. (WCC 145B)
California, Washington, and Nevada have all recently launched statewide initiatives to implement virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality in library programming for purposes ranging from digital preservation to job training. Anyone currently developing a library VR program will be interested in this session with Sara Jones, President of CALIFA, Washington State Librarian Cindy Aiden, and Nevada State Library Assistant Administrator Tammy Westergard, as they discuss setup, staff training, what has worked and what has not, and best practices developed thus far.

HEADLINERS Joel Christian Gill, Meredith Broussard, Kalisha Buckhanon


Barbara Hoffert
Editor, Prepub Alert

LibraryReads Author Panel: Fiercely Female
Sat., Jun. 22, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (WCC 204C)
LibraryReads invites you to hear from four fantastic women writers of fiction and nonfiction: Kristen Arnett, Mostly Dead Things: A Novel (Tin House Books), Sara M. Broom, The Yellow House (Grove), Kalisha Buckhanon, Speaking of Summer: A Novel (Counterpoint), and Alicia Menendez, The Likability Trap (HarperBusiness).


Stephanie Klose
LJ Reviews Manager, Media Editor

Give Them What They Want: Reader-Focused Collection Development
Sat., Jun. 22, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (WCC 143A)
Making smart collection choices requires looking further than circulation statistics and learning what the entire community desires. The presenters will share methods suitable for libraries of any size to incorporate patron wishes into collection development, making readers integral to the whole process.

Listen Up!: How Libraries Can Help Podcasters Face the Challenges of Preservation
Sat., Jun. 22, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (WCC 150A)
Like all popular mass mediums, podcasts are at risk of disappearing in the face of rapid shifts in platform, delivery, and recording technology. This issue has been identified by those in the field of archiving and preservation as endemic to mass media technologies to date (such as reel-to-reels, VHS tapes, and CDs). It is even more of a worry for digital content that can be easily wiped, corrupted, or replaced with a software update.

Isn’t It Romantic?
Sun., Jun. 23, 9-10 a.m. (WCC 102B)
Authors Tif Marcelo, Sheila Roberts, Hope Ramsay, Linda Holmes, and Tracey Garvis Graves will discuss their books. A book signing will follow.

In Real Life: Must-Read Memoirs
Sun., Jun. 23, 9-10 a.m. (WCC 140B)
Doris Payne, Susan Straight, Aarti Shahani, Saeed Jones, and Jeannie Vanasco will discuss their forthcoming memoirs.

Book Club Central: How To Book Club
Sun., Jun. 23, 10:30-11:30 a.m. (Marriott Marquis, Monument)
Authors and book industry professionals will discuss book club tips and the latest online tools to help enhance and keep your book club organized.


Lisa Peet
News Editor

A Conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Sat., Jun. 22, 8:30­–9:30 a.m. (WCC Ballroom B-C)
The Supreme Court is on the front lines of many issues critical to librarianship, and Sotomayor—president Obama’s first court appointment, and its first Latina justice—stands to be a pivotal presence. While her published and upcoming books are no doubt on the morning’s agenda, it will be interesting to see what else she has to say to a roomful of information professionals.

Immigrants, Refugees and Displaced Persons in Public Libraries: What We’ve Learned, Where We’re Heading
Sat., June 22, 1–2 p.m. (WCC 151A)
This session will take a year’s worth of findings from the ALA Public Program Office’s recently completed examination of programs and services supporting immigrant, refugee, and displaced persons populations to examine programming opportunities and challenges, resources, community partnerships, and ways to address gaps in services.

Confronting White Nationalism in Libraries: A Panel Discussion
Sat., Jun. 22, 4–5:30 p.m. (WCC 151B)
The Western States Center’s new toolkit “Confronting White Nationalism in Schools,” which focuses on how educators can focus on youth targeted for recruitment, is applicable in libraries as well. The panel of educators, librarians, and civil rights activists should have some useful insights on responses and potential questions about intellectual freedom.

Ensuring Everyone Counts (and is Counted) in the 2020 Census
Sun., Jun. 23, 9–10 a.m. (WCC 145B)
Libraries nationwide are gearing up for the 2020 Census—the first ever conducted primarily online. This session will look ways to engage residents and community partners for an inclusive count, as well as resources libraries can use to advocate and emphasize the importance of their role in accurate, inclusive data collection.


Meredith Schwartz
Executive Editor

Reducing Implicit Bias in Reference Interviews and Literature Searching (Train the Trainer)
Sat., Jun. 22, 9-10 a.m. (WCC 144B-C)
Since seeing research on how differently U.S. public libraries respond to queries from a black-sounding versus white-sounding name (“Do Librarians Discriminate?"), I’ve been increasingly interested in efforts to help library workers reduce unconscious and implicit bias in their work, particularly those like this that have the potential to scale.

Pitfalls of Neutrality: What Does Inclusivity Mean in Libraries?
Sat., Jun. 22, 9-10 a.m. (WCC 146C)
A practical followup to the contentious debate from a previous conference about whether neutrality for libraries is either possible or desirable. Speakers who have handled real world challenges which pit the intellectual freedom of one patron against equity, diversity, and inclusion and/or the safety of another patron will share their experiences and how they dealt with the situations. Attendees will have the chance to ask questions and interact with the speakers and each other.

Agency, Consent, and Power in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Sat., Jun. 22, 4-5 p.m. (WCC 146B)
Science fiction and fantasy, as ever, grapples with the problems of here and now in the guise of far off futures and fantasic pasts. A panel of leading authors will discuss how their work addresses sexual assault, bodily autonomy, classism, racism, and consolidation of both political and economic power.

Nnedi Okorafor
Sun., Jun. 23, 3-5:30 p.m. (WCC Ballroom B-C)
The award-winning author of Who Fears Death, currently in development at HBO, the Binti novella trilogy, the Shuri comics series, and more will deliver the ALA Presidents Program.

Safer Libraries: Building Staff Resiliency and Library Safety Branch by Branch
Mon., Jun. 24, 10:30-11:30 a.m. (WCC 149A-B)
The tragic death of librarian Amber Clark (an LJ 2019 Mover & Shaker) has led to renewed urgency around the ever-present issue of staff safety. This session will discuss how the DC Public Library collaborated with Defend Yourself to develop a library-specific safety training for staff that teaches self-defense concepts.


Stephanie Sendaula
Associate Editor

Are You Going to Tell My Parents?: The Minor’s Right to Privacy in the Library
Sun., Jun. 23, 4-5 p.m. (WCC 152A)
Privacy is a vital issue to libraries, especially when it comes to those under the age of 18. School and public librarians share the best practices for allowing parents access to their child’s library card, browsing history, and more.

Controversial Speaker Planned for Your Library Event? Things To Consider
Mon., Jun. 24, 9-10 a.m. (WCC 140B)
Planning programming for your library can be a challenge, especially when you’re unsure what the reaction will be. Hear from librarians, authors, and ALA staff who have been there before—and gain tips on how to approach feedback.

Fear the Law No Longer: Fun, Fabulous, and Flexible Fair Use!
Mon., Jun. 24, 4-5 p.m. (WCC 143A)
Can you share coloring pages found online? What about distributing reproduced flyers at the reference desk? A panel of academic, public, and school librarians will help answer questions relating to copyright and the fine line between what is and isn’t fair use.


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Marsha Gertzog

Will there be a n LJ Galleys to Grab?

Posted : Jun 06, 2019 06:36

Diane Mohr

Meredith Schwartz writes that it was Amber Williams that was killed but it was Amber Clark of Sacramento PL that tragically lost her life. Please correct this.The tragic death of librarian Amber Williams (an LJ 2019 Mover & Shaker)…Tragically, Amber Clark was shot and killed on December 11 in the North Natomas branch library parking lot.

Posted : Jun 04, 2019 08:50



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