Monday, June 28, 2010

Final Post from Washington, DC

Welcome to Day 5 and the final post of my ALA experience! I did not have to work until noon today so I took this opportunity to walk around The Stacks some more. Free books are great, but you must have the luggage space to haul them back home! I also have come to the realization from several overheard conversations and my own observations that librarians are crazy for book bags. This may not be a big surprise to many of you and I am a "bag person" myself, but it seems like the goal of some folks here is to collect as many book bags - free, not free, plastic, cotton, polyester, recycled, etc - as possible. There should be a study done on librarian behavior patters in The Stacks. It could be interesting.

Before work I also attended the Graphic Novel Panel consisting of David Small, author of the new book Stitches, and Audrey Niffenegger, author of the new book The Night Bookmobile. It was real fascinating to hear the stories and background information on these books from the authors themselves. I have never really been into graphic novels before, but after their talks I just may check them out (at least the authors' books in particular).

For work this afternoon I helped prepare awards and set up for the RUSA 2010 Awards Ceremony and Reception. Award winners included the likes of Marie L. Radford, Nancy Pearl and other superstars of the reference world. It was wonderful to be in the room with these great librarians. Today was my longest work day (6 hours) but it flew by fast.

I will work an early bird shift (5:30am-8am!!) tomorrow for the Coretta Scott King Breakfast setting up and taking tickets, but then I am headed home. So this will be my last post from ALA and DC. I highly recommend getting involved in ALA as it seems there are endless possibilities. The Student-to-Staff program is a great way to get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes action of the conference and a great way to minimize your conference related fees. I hope that you'll apply for the program next year and that you enjoyed following along in my first ALA journey. Cheers!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

ALA Sunday Update Part II

Hello again! Earlier today I gave an account of Day 3 of my ALA experience. I can now give you an update on Day 4 as my day comes to an end. Early this morning I met the RUSA folks at the Literary Tastes Breakfast. My duties were to take tickets, give out programs and do some general set up for the event. The event consisted of several authors (Dan Chaon, Melvin Konner, Laney Salisbury, David Small and Adriana Trigiani) addressing the attendees about their writing. The attendees, who paid for the event, got breakfast and free books signed by the authors. Fun! I stayed for the program, which was interesting and entertaining.

After work was done, I headed out to an afternoon session: the Annual Reference Research Forum. This session was the most informative session I have attended so far. Three different research projects were introduced and discussed: The Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries (ERIAL) Project (; "Do LibGuides Make a Difference? A Quasi-Experimental Investigation Into the Impact of LibGuides" (Presented by Steven J. Bell); and "Minding the Gap: Generational Differences in Attitudes toward Reference Service in Academic Libraries" (

Each presentation gave an overview of the research, findings and conclusions. I have to say that the LIS 7996 research course I took last semester was really helpful in understanding the studies presented. It was interesting to hear how some results contradicted with what was expected. I also enjoyed hearing how the studies could be improved. So far this session proved what this conference is all about - new trends, studies and research.

I also tried to attend a second session this afternoon titled: "Area Studies Librarianship, Globalization, and Interdisciplinary Studies in Today's and Tomorrow's Academic & Research Libraries." I was interested in this session because my undergraduate degree is in Interdisciplinary Studies. However, I found the presentation to be a bit dry after a great earlier session and found it hard to concentrate. Since this session took place in a small room, it was standing room only and I chose to give my seat to another more interested party.

I have a long work day tomorrow and will give a report tomorrow evening. See you then!

ALA Sunday Update

Welcome to Day 4 of my ALA experience! You'll notice that I skipped over Day 3. Yesterday was so jam packed that I didn't have time to share with you.

I did not have to work on Saturday for the Student-to-Staff Program so I had a chance to wander The Stacks (or the exhibit hall) in the morning. Talk about overwhelming! Wall-to-wall vendors spread out over an enormous area. There are database providers, booksellers, furniture dealers, jewelry makers...and the list goes on and on. A word of advice that any conference goer will give you - wear comfortable shoes!! You'll be doing miles of walking.

I decided to listen in on a few demonstrations, one of which was Mango who creates language learning products. It looked interesting and they lured me in with a mango slushy, mmmm.... The demonstration lasted about 15 minutes and the group learned to say a few words in Japanese. The database looks user-friendly and seems to provide quick results through repetition. I also listened in to vendors selling automated material check-in machines and single computers that can run up to 10 monitors (a "green" company of course).

The Stacks are fun to peruse, but I'd suggest taking a look at the Exhibit Hall guide and pre-select booths you know you want to visit. Otherwise, you may get sidetracked.

In the afternoon I listened in on a session put on by the Intellectual Freedom Round Table titled "Burning Man, Libraries, and the 21st Century: The Intersection of the Individual and Society." The session was a conversation between Larry Harvey, the Burning Man event founder, and Lauren Christos, librarian and Burning Man attendee. They discussed Burning Man ( and the culture of the community. The main topics of discussion were freedom, rules and privacy. Learning about Burning Man and the type of society created during this one week event in August was captivating. Besides Mr. Harvey saying libraries are "like a temple" to him and a brief discussion of the now defunct bookmobile at the event, there wasn't much mention of libraries which was a bit disappointing.

I also attended the Opening General Session with keynote speaker Toni Morrison. Her speech was lively, inspiring and down to earth. Her passion for libraries was felt as she described her first jobs at her own public library and how she is an advocate for libraries today. This was a great way to end the evening.

Stay tuned for more Day 4 blogging....

Friday, June 25, 2010

ALA Friday Update

Welcome to Day 2 of my ALA adventure. This morning began with a couple hours of work checking in registered attendees for the Reference Preconference. The check-in went smoothly and soon I was ready to be a tourist for awhile. Friday is a slow day for sessions (mostly preconferences) so I had some free time to see the sights. I ventured onto the Metro to take a trip to the Library of Congress. The building is gorgeous, inside and out. A peek into the Main Reading Room made me a bit jealous of those that get to work and research there. Several exhibits including Thomas Jefferson's library were on display and were fascinating. After the LOC I walked to the Capital Building which towers over all who lay eyes on it. Next stop on my tour was the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where I saw many fantastic exhibits including the Hope Diamond and dinosaur bones. One could spend hours and hours here, but alas I had to head back to the convention center for my only session of the day.

I don't think I mentioned earlier, but this is my first ALA conference. This afternoon there were several session options for newbies to get acquainted with ALA and the conference itself. I chose to attend the Intellectual Freedom (IF) 101 session. This session was a great way to learn a bit more about what the Office of Intellectual Freedom(OIF) has to offer. There were speakers from the Intellectual Freedom Committee, the Freedom to Read Foundation (separate from ALA), Intellectual Freedom Roundtable, the Merritt Fund (separate from ALA), the Committee on Professional Ethics, and the Privacy Subcomittee. Each presenter gave a quick overview of what their area of IF does and websites for each can be found at:

The final speaker gave us 11 things to do to support Intellectual Freedom, which I thought I'd share with you:
1) Join the Intellectual Freedom Round Table
2) Celebrate Banned Books Week in your community
3) Subscribe to OIF email list
4) Follow OIF on Twitter
5) Get the Library Bill of Rights tattooed on your back (yep)
6) Attend at least one IF program at the conference
7) Watch "Choose Privacy Week" video on website
8) "like" or "fan" all of the IF Facebook pages
9) Buy jewelry from booth #2535 at conference - 60% of proceeds go to FTRF
10) Read OIF Blog
11) Talk about IF!!!

Tomorrow I have a free day from work and plan to attend a few session and check out the exhibit hall or "The Stacks."

Greetings from Washington, DC

Hello readers! My name is Erika and I am going to blog for a few days about my ALA Annual Conference experience. A bit about myself - I am part of the online cohort and reside in North Carolina. My concentration is in reference services and I am just a couple semesters away from graduating from the SLIS program. I was selected by SLIS to represent Wayne State at the ALA Annual Conference as a Student-to-Staff Participant. I have been paired with a division of ALA (RUSA) and will work a certain amount of hours at the conference. In return I get free entry to the conference, free lodging and a per diem. Pretty nice, right? For those of you who are unaware of this program there is an application process through the school each winter to select a student. Forty students are selected for the program from different library schools around the country. Apply! It's a great opportunity.

I arrived in DC yesterday to find that I should have packed more tank tops and less pants - wow is it hot! I had a meeting with the RUSA folks in the afternoon so I decided to head over to the convention center a little early to get my badge holder and program. There weren't too many folks around yet so I was able to get my bearings. I checked in with my RUSA supervisor and got the details of my schedule and also stayed around for a few hours to help prepare session packets. This was a good warm-up for the weekend and a great chance to meet and mingle with a few ALA folks.
I left the convention center to check-in to my hotel and meet my roommate. Soon it was time to meet about 30 Student-to-Staffers for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant nearby. The food was fantastic and the company was even better. This dinner was a great opportunity to sit down and meet library science students from all over the country. Plus, it gave us all a few friendly faces to pick out in the crowd at the conference. After a long day of travel and work it was time to head back to the hotel and rest up for the weekend.