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ALA Annual Day 5

I want to apologize for the delay in my final post for ALA Annual. I will explain the delay at the end of this post.

The final day of the conference I attended Council III. At this session, the primary discussion revolved around the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights, in particular the interpretation regarding Labeling and Rating Systems. At issue was this section:

Libraries sometimes acquire resources that include ratings as part of their packaging. Librarians should not endorse the inclusion of such rating systems; however, removing or destroying the ratings—if placed there by, or with permission of, the copyright holder—could constitute expurgation (see “Expurgation of Library Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights”). In addition, the inclusion of ratings on bibliographic records in library catalogs is a violation of the Library Bill of Rights.

Some Councilors were bothered by the language of the final sentence of this paragraph. Some argued that by not including rating information, such as MPAA ratings, which is including on the packaging of some materials, we relegate remote users to second-class citizenship; these users cannot see the packaging and do not have access to the ratings information. Additionally, one Councilor indicated that the ALA-approved Resource Description and Access guidelines include specific instructions for how to include ratings in bibliographic records.

Council voted on removing the Labeling and Rating Systems interpretation from the package presented by IFC; the motion was defeated 70-65. Despite its defeat, the IFC is going to review this interpretation in conjunction with the cataloging groups in ALA after the current interpretations are published in book format later this year. At the very least, there was lively debate on the matter.

Regarding the delay in my post, I want to announce that this was both my first and last year as Kentucky Chapter Councilor. I have started a new job in Tennessee and am resigning my position as your Councilor. I want to thank the Kentucky Library Association for the opportunity to serve as your Councilor. I plan to attend the KLA/KASL fall conference and give my final reports then.

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ALA Annual Day 4

Like day three, day four of the conference began with a council session. At this session, Council heard reports from the Policy Monitoring Committee, the Committee on Organization, and the Freedom to Read Foundation. Additionally, ALA President Barbara Stripling recognized those Councilors whose term ends at today’s meeting.

Council took action on a resolution from the District of Columbia Library Association. The resolution urges Congress to

grant the District of Columbia budget autonomy in order to prevent the unnecessary closing of city government facilities, including public libraries, in the event of a federal government shutdown.

This resolution is not asking for D.C. statehood or for voting representation in Congress. It simply asks that Congress release D.C.’s budget–of locally paid city taxes, not federal monies–from the requirement that it be approved by Congress before expenditures may be made.

In the afternoon, I attended the Chapter Councilors Forum. This forum is less formal than the regular Council and we discuss issues relevant to state chapters in the context of Council proceedings. One interesting topic from yesterday was how to attract young librarians and retired librarians to state associations. While the specific needs and interests of these two groups vary, one thing they have in common is the need to feel valued within the organization. State associations should not be afraid to ask people of these age groups to take leadership roles, and creating groups for these individuals as well as including programming and social events are great ways to get these potential members involved.

ALA Annual Day 3

Day three of the conference began with the first Council session. The two main action items at Council I were the electronic communication processes for the ALA Council and a Resolution in Support of Stable Funding for Air Force Libraries.

The electronic communication item passed with minor deliberation over wording about the frequency with which communication processes would be reviewed.

I am pleased to report that ALA Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution in support of stable funding for Air Force libraries. It should be noted that this resolution applies only to Air Force libraries because these libraries are in immediate danger of losing funding.

As of yesterday morning, there were 18,185 total attendees, including exhibitors, at the Annual conference.

Yesterday evening I attended the Council forum where we discussed some of the items coming before Council in today’s session.

ALA Annual Day 2

The second day of Annual began with a breakfast sponsored by Project Muse. At the breakfast we heard about some of the new collections and journals coming to Project Muse in addition to a presentation on the state of university presses and publishing. I found the talk enlightening since I have little experience working with university presses. For those of you who are familiar with Project Muse, it is a database that specializes in humanities and social science content.

I left the Project Muse breakfast a little early because I wanted to attend a session titled “Boba Fett at the Circ Desk: Library Leadership Lessons from The Empire Strikes Back.” Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at the session, I couldn’t even get in the door.

After finding a place to sit and relax since I couldn’t go to the session, I listened to featured speaker Azar Nafisi, the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. She spoke on the importance of literature and the “republic of the imagination,” which also happens to be the title of her new book. One of my favorite things that she said was

The great thing about books is that we can be so promiscuous.

She was referring to the fact that you can love a book or an author then leave that book or author for something else and then return.

The next item of the day was seeing Stan Lee! He spoke eloquently of his love of libraries and was a joy to hear.

In the afternoon, I attended the Council/Executive Board/Membership Information Session. Based on the reports, ALA’s financial situation is not as bad as it appeared at the Mid-Winter Meeting. Over 11,000 people preregistered for the conference. The number of attendees as of yesterday afternoon was 17,658.

ALA Annual Day 1

Greetings from Las Vegas, fellow Kentucky librarians! I had great feedback on this blog at the Mid-Winter Meeting, and I’m excited to share my ALA Annual experience with you this summer.

As a reminder, I am the ALA Chapter Councilor for Kentucky. This is my first time at ALA Annual and my first year as Councilor. I’ll be sharing my observations and information from the Council sessions so that Kentucky librarians can keep informed of what ALA Council is doing.

I arrived in Las Vegas on Thursday evening and attended a great networking event. It was good to see some friends I had made at Mid-Winter and a great way to get in the right frame of mind for the conference.

I had a fairly light schedule for Friday’s pre-conference events. I attended the Unconference again. This table-discussion event gives some guidance to the conversations that tend to spring up naturally at conferences. The attendees suggest topics and then divide into groups to talk about library-related issues.

The other major event that I attended yesterday was the OCLC Symposium. The topic of the day was the Internet of Things. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s basically the idea that the Internet is being connected to nearly everything in our lives, both digital and analog. We heard ideas from the audience for possible IoT wish lists. My favorite idea was the suggestion of using GPS tracking as a digital “call number” so that patrons could track a book rather than having to write down a call number. Imagine a world where you can track a book’s global position; you could potentially never have another missing book!

I’m looking forward to today’s sessions. I’ll be attending the Stan Lee event as well as several Council-related sessions in the afternoon and evening. If anyone has any questions about the conference, please let me know!

ALA Midwinter Day 5

Today’s Council meeting was the final one for Midwinter. We heard reports from the Executive Board election, Intellectual Freedom Committee, and the Committee on Legislation. The Intellectual Freedom Committee and Committee on Legislation presented two joint resolutions for Council’s vote. Committee on Legislation also presented a third resolution. In addition to the three resolutions and election results, the Awards Committee announced a new ALA award. Again, the information in this blog is my observations and are not the official minutes of ALA Council.

Executive Board Election Results

The following ALA Councilors were elected to the Executive Board:

Peter D. Hepburn (2014-2017)
Gail A. Schlachter (2014-2017)
Gina Persichini (2014-2017)
Mike L. Marlin (serving 5 month term through July 1, 2014)

Resolution on Expanding Federal Whistleblower Protections

Although related to the resolution on Edward Snowden that failed at Council II, this resolution (page 6) from the Intellectual Freedom Committee and Committee on Legislation passed after only momentary debate on minor wording changes.

Resolution on Curbing Government Surveillance and Restoring Civil Liberties

Originally submitted as a single resolution, the two resolved clauses in this resolution were divided to create two separate resolutions. The first part urges Congress and President Obama to pass and sign legislation that reflects the content of the USA FREEDOM Act as originally introduced. This Act would repeal many aspects of the USA PATRIOT Act. The second part commends the Congressmen, Congresswomen, and Senators who have sponsored the Act. The resolution as presented is included in the same document as the whistleblower resolution, page 4.

Resolution on Maintaining Government Websites During a Government Shutdown

The text of the the resolved clauses for this resolution is available here on page two. The resolution on maintaining government websites during a shutdown elicited the most debate of any resolution offered today. It began with an proposed amendment to remove the first resolved clause and the phrase “in the absence of such a guideline” from the second resolved clause. The concern was that these sections asked government employees to work without pay to maintain websites in the event of a shutdown or other emergency. The amendment was defeated after lively debate. Another amendment was proposed to add the word “paid” in the first resolved clause, which changed the wording to

urges the President to direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Department of Justice (DoJ) to develop guidance to federal agencies stating that, in the event of a government shutdown or other emergency, continued access by the public to essential information on agency websites is an “excepted” activity that would warrant the retention of PAID [emphasis mine] personnel or the obligation of funds to assure access;

The addition of the word “paid” to the resolution seemed to convince those of us who were on the fence about this resolution, and the resolution passed as amended.

New Lemony Snicket Award

Perhaps the most fun part of today’s meeting was the announcement of a new award funded by author Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler): The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. I encourage everyone to read the description of the award, as it provides some levity to some of the adverse situations librarians may face. The Executive Board had already voted to approve adding this award, and Council voted overwhelmingly in its favor.

ALA Midwinter Day 4

At last night’s Council Forum, I had the opportunity to find out more information about the resolutions that would appear before Council at today’s meeting. On the agenda were a resolution regarding improving member access to ALA Unit governing information, a resolution on whistleblower Edward Snowden, and a resolution to allow programs at ALA Midwinter Meeting. Here is a basic rundown of the three resolutions and the Council’s actions at today’s meeting. These are just my observations and should not be considered official minutes of the Council.

ALA Unit Governing Information

The basic idea behind this resolution is to make access to the minutes and actions taken by ALA Units more readily available. This would include ALA Divisions such as ACRL, ALCTS, YALSA, as well as ALA Round Tables. This would not include round tables and sub-units of the larger divisions and round tables. In some cases, divisions and round tables are already providing minutes and/or actions taken in a timely manner. The resolution really puts in to writing that this information should be available to the ALA membership in a timely and consistent manner. This resolution passed in this morning’s meeting. You can read the resolution here.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden

This topic was the most heavily debated at both the Council Forum yesterday evening and today at Council II. I am sure my fellow librarians in Kentucky are aware of the controversy over Mr. Snowden’s actions. The ALA Council did pass a resolution regarding whistleblowers at ALA Annual Conference last July. The text of the resolution is on page two of the linked document. Today’s resolution did not pass; some Councilors expressed the concern that events are still unfolding and a resolution recognizing Mr. Snowden may be premature.

Allowing Programs at Midwinter Meeting

For those who do not know, the ALA Midwinter Meeting does not include “programs” such as presentations or poster sessions. Historically, Midwinter has been used for Council, division, and round table meetings, as well as interest group discussions. While some would like to see more presentations, others in Council have argued that the better solution is to do away with Midwinter Meeting in favor of online meeting options. The current resolution had been given to the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) and will not be voted on at this Midwinter.

As your Councilor, I would like to know how my fellow Kentucky librarians feel about these resolutions, in particular what your thoughts are regarding the expansion or dissolution of Midwinter. I will likely have more information on the Council’s actions concerning whistleblowers in tomorrow’s post, as there are related resolutions on the agenda.

ALA Midwinter Day 3

Last night I attended the Council Reception, where I had the opportunity to meet some of my fellow Councilors and talk informally about what Council is like. I think having less formal networking opportunities before getting down to business is a great way for people like me to get in the swing of things. At the reception, I was able to talk informally with ALA President Barbara Stripling about the lawsuits currently faced by libraries in Kentucky. I hope my colleagues in Kentucky will be comforted by the fact that President Stripling shared my concerns about what the outcomes of those lawsuits could mean for Kentucky libraries. We also spoke briefly about the petition that was circulated in Pulaski County to dissolve the library taxing district in 2012 (this petition was dropped soon after the November 2012 election). I firmly believe that what affects one library affects all libraries, so I find it encouraging that what our libraries in Kentucky are facing is on the minds of library leaders nationally.

This morning I attended Council I, which could be called Introduction to Council if it were a college course. The meeting began with a review of the rules of order and introductions of special guests, including KLA President Brenda Metzger and President-Elect Laura Whayne. After introductions, we heard reports from officers. A task force to determine the best mode of communication for Council documents was created, but both of the other resolutions on the agenda were postponed to Council II.

I was still a little overwhelmed at Council I, but I’m still excited to be serving in this capacity. I think meeting and talking with my fellow Councilors has made it easier, and getting to know some of the other first-time Councilors has helped me feel less like I’m in the deep end with no life preserver.

For those who are interested, all current Council documents are available here.

ALA Midwinter Day 2

This morning began early with New Councilor Orientation. I feel like I have a better idea of what to expect at tomorrow’s first Council session. Having never been to an ALA meeting, I wasn’t sure what Council would be like and didn’t have a full understanding of what Council does. Don’t get me wrong, I researched (like a good librarian) before I said yes to fill this position in the interim. But, in this case, there’s only so much that words on a website can convey. Now that I’ve been through the orientation, I am better prepared for what I’ll be doing tomorrow.

I also went to the Council/Executive Board/Membership Information Session this afternoon. While this was not my favorite part of the day–I’m not really one who enjoys listening to budget reports–I think it was a good chance for me to see firsthand how Council I will go, without as much pressure since no votes or decisions are made during the Information Session.

ALA Midwinter Day 1

Tomorrow my Council experience begins in earnest with new Councilor orientation at 8:00 in the morning, but I wanted to share a bit of my first day.

Today will probably be the least rigorous day that I spend at ALA Midwinter. After a quick breakfast at Reading Terminal Market, I made my way to the Unconference. I was a little late to the discussion, but I was able to participate in the group talking about embedded librarianship. I was struck by the different definitions of embedded librarianship. At Somerset Community College, where I work, we have defined embedded librarianship as purely a way to bring library instruction to our online students. Others at the table talked about embedding library services into their surrounding communities. One example that I found particularly interesting was from a librarian in Pittsburgh who spoke about a program her library has with the county jail.

We also discussed how departmental liaisons can help an embedded librarianship program in the academic library. One person suggested bringing food to faculty to open the conversation (something I have also done!). What our group ultimately concluded was that despite the differences in how different types of libraries work, becoming embedded in a class, community, or organization is all about relationships. It takes conversations, asking for things, and just getting to know people to have successful embedded programs. This has certainly been my experience, and it sounded like it was the experience of others in our group.

The Unconference was a great way to start out my first ALA meeting experience. I’m curious if other Kentucky librarians have found other ways to promote and create embedded librarianship programs. What has worked for you? Would you agree that relationships are key to embedding?