November 29, 2008
American Library Association
During my year as ALA president we are experimenting with ways to increase opportunities for ALA members to contribute to, participate in, and benefit from their association. Unless you are a member of an ALA committee or board, it is difficult to produce a program at the Annual Conference. Furthermore, depending upon the sponsoring unit, the lead time for approval of a program can be a year or more.
I invite “grassroots” proposals for programs to be produced at the 2009 Annual Conference in Chicago. This program is designed to give members who don’t normally have the opportunity an opportunity produce a program and to reduce the lead time to assure programs that address timely topics.
For guidelines, deadlines, and a link to the submission form, are available on my Web site. Ot also provides information on other initiatives promoting member participation.
Students in the MLS programs at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and UCLA will play a significant role in selecting programs.
If you have an idea, please submit a proposal!
September 19, 2008
American Library Association
ALA President-elect Camila Alire is seeking applicants and nominees for appointments to the 2009-2010 ALA and Council committees.
The deadline for submitting applications and nominations is December 5, 2008.
Alire is asking for volunteers to serve on the following ALA committees:
Accreditation; American Libraries Advisory; Awards; Chapter Relations; Conference; Constitution and Bylaws; Election; Human Resource Development and Recruitment Advisory; Information Technology Policy Advisory; Literacy; Literacy and Outreach Services Advisory; Membership; Membership Meetings; Nominating; Orientation, Training and Leadership Development; Public and Cultural Programs Advisory; Public Awareness; Publishing; Research and Statistics; Rural, Native and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds; Scholarships and Study Grants; Website Advisory
The following ALA joint committees:
ALA-Children’s Book Council; ALA-Association of American of Museums; and ALA-Association of American Publishers
And, the following Council committees: Advocacy; Budget, Analysis and Review; Committee on Committees; Diversity; Education; Intellectual Freedom; International Relations; Legislation; Organization; Council Orientation, Planning and Budget Assembly; Policy Monitoring; Professional Ethics; Public Awareness; Publishing; Resolutions; and Status of Women in Librarianship.
Committee charges are available in the ALA Handbook of Organization (http://www.ala.org/ala/ourassociation/aboutala/alahandbookorganization.cfm).
The online committee volunteer form is available at: http://cs.ala.org/alacommittees/volunteer.html
The ALA Committee on Committees and Committee on Appointments will assist in making the appointments. Individuals selected to serve on a committee will be notified after the 2009 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver (Colo.) and will begin their committee service at the conclusion of the 2009 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.
For more information on the committee appointments process, contact Eileen Hardy, Executive Board Secretariat, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Alfredo Pinto, assistant to Camila Alire, at email@example.com.
September 2, 2008
American Library Association
ALA President’s Informal Report for August 2008
In my role as ALA president I did the following during August :
August 10-14 I participated in IFLA’s World Library and Information Congress in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. The conference theme was “Libraries without borders: Navigating towards Global Understanding.” This was my first IFLA conference. It was good to experience an event whose conventions, schedule, and structure were new to me; it helped me imagine how first-timers to our massive Annual Conference must feel.
During the IFLA conference I signed an agreement between the association and the Berufsverband Information Bibliothek (BIB). The two organizations will work together to facilitate exchanges between librarians of the two countries. German librarians interested in an exchange in the United States can contact BIB which will work with ALA’s International Relations Office to connect to libraries in the United States. Although no funds are available at this time U.S. librarians interested in exchanges in Germany should contact the International Relations Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Interviews on the relationship between increased use of public libraries and the nation’s economic downturn with the following:
- Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY
- Sacramento Bee, Sacrament, CA
- Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, KY
- Associated Press, WV
- Press Enterprise, Riverside, CA
- Toledo Blade, Toledo, OH
- Oak Leaves, Oak Park, IL
- Interview on electronic media and services in libraries, Christian Science Monitor, Boston, MA
- Panelist in program on the future of libraries and librarians on KQED’s “Forum” call-in radio show; archived at http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R808261000
In interviews with the print media I observed two things. First, national and regional reporters ask more insightful questions and have prepared for the interviews. Second, it seems that few of them have visited a public library recently. Frequently they were surprised to learn about services that are common in our public libraries. Michael Krasny, KQED’s host, was briefed very well on current library issues.
- Presided during the Executive Board’s Executive Commitee conference call on August 4
- The Executive Board did not conduct a conference call in August
August 25, 2008
Visiting countries other than one’s own provides new perspectives on how to do things one is accustomed to seeing done in a particular way. Having attended conferences in other countries the past few months, I have gained new perspectives on practices at library conferences. I have wondered which would enhance the conference experience for ALA members at ALA’s Annual Conference.
- In May in Chihuahua the annual conference of Asociacion Mexicana de Bibliotecarios (AMBAC) opened with a series of speeches from local government officials and a uniformed color guard which presented Mexico’s flag. The assembly then sang the national anthem.
- In June in Ukraine the Crimea 2008 conference in Sudak also opened with a series of speeches by local government officials and other dignitaries. The conference flag and Was raised as part of the opening ceremony. A spirited closing ceremony included performances by a military band a girls’ marching drum corps.
- In July at the 2008 Sino-US Forum for Library Practice, co-sponsored by the Chinese American Librarians Association, in Kunming, China, participants sat at long tables. Each place was set with a notebook, pen, and a covered tea cup. Before the first session of the day started, hotel staff filled the cups, one by one, with hot water. During the session they replenished the hot water.
- In August at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Quebec City, the closing session included a video about libraries and other cultural institutions in Milan, site of the 2009 conference. It also included a short musical performance by two young musicians who are students at the Verdi music school in Milan.
Which of these practices would enhance the participants experience at ALA’s Annual Conference? I am partial to the tea service at the Kunming conference; however scaling that from a conference for about 200 to a conference for more than 20,000 would be a huge challenge.
Which of these would ALA members welcome? Post a comment sharing your ideas!
August 24, 2008
American Library Association, library users
ALA and Women’s Day magazine want to hear your ideas for a topic that gives Women’s Day readers an opportunity to tell the world how important their library is to them.
The Campaign for America’s Libraries, ALA’s public awareness campaign about the value of libraries and librarians, has partnered with Woman’s Day magazine since 2002. Each year, Woman’s Day readers are invited to respond to a question about libraries, and up to four readers’ contributions are published in a spring issue of the magazine.
We would like to solicit your ideas for future topics to be featured in Woman’s Day.
Past editorial topics were:
* How the library improved my health (2008 – article to be published in the March 2009 issue)
* Starting my small business with help from the library (2007)
* How the library changed my life (2006)
* Researching my family tree at the library (2005)
* Why I would want to be a librarian for a day (2004)
* The book that changed my life (2003)
* The relationship between writers and the library (2002)
If you would like to submit an idea, please send an e-mail to Megan McFarlane by Friday, August 29. Please feel free to forward on this message.
July 22, 2008
As the cell phone has become ubiquitous and has transformed from novelty to necessity, there have been letters to newspaper advice columnists and etiquette experts asking about their use, especially taking calls, in various situations—in public restrooms, while conducting a retail transaction, in theaters, in the middle of a meeting, during conference presentations, etc.
In the past three months I have had the opportunity to observe this at conferences in four countries. These are typical, not universal, behaviors I observed:
- In Mexico when a cell phone rang the owner usually answered it speaking quietly and left the room as quickly as possible before getting into the conversation. Or silenced the ringing and then checked to see who called and decided whether or not to leave the room to return the call.
- In Crimea, a province of Ukraine, the owner usually answered the call and quickly left the room. But in a very small number of instances the owner answered the phone and had a conversation at normal voice volume. Or louder—it seems some individuals, regardless of nationality, feel a need to raise their volume to be heard when speaking over any sort of phone. Because nearly 80% of the participants in the conference in Crimea were from Russia, this observations may reflect cell phone etiquette there more than in Ukraine.
- Behavior in China is similar to Crimea. Most times the owner answered the phone and left the room as quickly as possible. A greater number in China than in Crimea answered their phone and stayed in their seat and conducted their conversation—but always with a very soft voice. A good number silenced their phone as soon as it began to ring. At least one participant initiated a cell phone conversation during a presentation and carried it on in a soft voice.
- In the United States at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim I saw the effect of the request made at the start of many meetings and programs that everyone present either turn their cell phones off or set them on vibrate. Either those present just didn’t receive calls or they followed the request. Nevertheless, sometimes phones did ring during sessions. Usually the owner would answer quietly and then leave the room as quickly as possible before getting into the conversation. Or silenced the ringing and then checked to see who called and decided whether or not to leave the room to return the call.
What conclusions can be drawn from this decidedly unscientific four-nation sampling of cell phone behavior during conference sessions? None, really, other than that the opening bars of American pop music are the cell phone ringtone of choice of many librarians in Mexico, Russia, China, and the United States.
July 15, 2008
blogs and blogging
At the 2008 Sino-US Forum for Library Practice in Kunming, China, I have learned that academic libraries and librarians in the US and China have a great deal in common. I have also learned that there are clear cultural differences. In the Q&A after a presentation by Haiwang Yuan of Western Kentucky University an audience member asked “Who controls the content posted in blogs and how is it controlled?”
July 14, 2008
academic libraries, libraries in society
The Chinese American Librarians Association invited me to participate in the 2008 Sino-US Forum for Library Practice in Kunming, China. Its co-sponsors are the Library and Information Committee for Academic Libraries of Yunnan Province and the library of Kunming University of Science and Technology.
Among the speakers from China, all of them directors of university libraries, the survival of the academic library has been a recurrent theme. Mass digitization projects—both those well known in the US such as Google’s and the Internet Archives’ Million Books project—as well as significant projects in China have prompted questions about the viability of libraries that are known for their extensive print collections complemented by access to online databases, many offering a wide range of full-text content.
Again and again they cited the need for libraries to digitize the unique and special items in their special collections as a way to demonstrate the distinct contribution each can make. They didn’t address issues about the library’s survival once these collections are digitized and as widely available as the contents of the Million Books project. They also cited copyright restrictions as limitations on the usefulness of digitized book collections.
One library director outlined her strategy for assuring that her university will value the library’s contribution. Dr. Jinhau Shen, chief librarian at Tongji University in Shanghai described a unique outreach program. As China continues to industrialize and its own people become a larger and larger market for its products, information becomes more important to emerging industries such as automobile manufacturing. Tongji University’s library has initiated discussions with local auto manufacturers to learn what sort of business, engineering, and scientific information they need. It has developed partnerships to provide that information. This library has found a void and filled it. It demonstrates its value by providing needed information to an industry that is very important to the nation’s future. It expects to have competitors in the future, but also thinks that its experience as a pioneer will give it a competitive advantage for some time to come.
I commend Dr. Jinhau Shen and her staff for their innovation and strategic thinking. It has identified an underserved, perhaps even unserved, community and has developed services that will contribute to the community’s success. I don’t advise every US academic library to imitate this example of providing information services to a local industry. But we do need to act in the same spirit. Dr. Shen’s presentation made me wonder who are the underserved or unserved in my library’s community? Perhaps they are individuals within the groups we strive to serve, especially faculty and students? How do we identify those individuals and how do we reach them? This isn’t a new question nor one we have ignored. But it is proving difficult to answer. Yet answer it we must.
July 9, 2008
I am writing this at Dulles airport. In about 45 minutes boarding will begin for my non-stop flight to Beijing. From there I will travel to Kunming and join a small group of members of the Chinese American Library Association for CALA’s 21st Century Librarian Seminar. It will be held at Kunming University of Science and Technology in Kunming in Yunnan Province. On Thursday I will present a paper on “Challenges for Academic Libraries in the Networked World.”
After the seminar concludes my wife and I will take another ten days or so to tour some of China’s highlights–the terra-cotta army in Xian, the panda reserve near Chengdu, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City in Beijing, and more.
I thank CALA for inviting me to participate in the seminar.
July 9, 2008
American Library Association
On July 2 my old ALA president-elect’s Web site came down and was replaced by a new ALA president’s Web site. It remains at the same URL. It repeats the design of the old site but has been reorganized to highlight the president’s activities. The newest item at the site is an audio recording, made in a studio prior to the event. of my July 1 American Library Association inaugural address. To listen click on “Listen to and watch Jim.”
To set the tone and establish the theme for my inaugural speech, a fife and drum corps opened the ceremony and Benjamin Franklin, played by an interpreter, welcomed the audience and reflected on his love of reading and his contribution to the genesis of the library movement in America.
I am honored to serve as ALA’s president for 2008-09. I will do my best to honor the great trust my fellow ALA members have placed in me.