I was fortunate in that I was able to attend the ALA conference in Anaheim this year. I have been to TLA and PLA and even the Internet Librarian conferences, but this was my first ALA. And lucky me, it was in southern California.
The main appeal to me was of course, getting to meet and talk with librarians from all over - I met 7 men from China that had gone to school together in China and hadn't seen one another in 15 years. I met a very interesting librarian from South Carolina who shared with me the struggles she deals with daily - budgets, overcrowding, older materials, but she still has a passion for her job. The sessions are great - good ideas, new perspectives and all, but the invigorating part of the conference, is hearing the passion about what we do - day in and day out.
In order for this posting to not be too long - I will highlight some of the sessions I attended.
PACs in the Library 2.0 World - It was interesting to see how libraries are using different 2.0 tools in their catalogs. Amy Cantu, Ann Arbor District Library shared that all staff blog - not required but strongly encouraged. They can remain anonymous if they wish - and it is open to controversial comments. Staff are encouraged to make it relevant, fun and simple. They haven’t had problems with spam or inappropriate comments. Staff were very concerned about cursing/etc. in comments but it’s not been a problem at all.
Not Evolutionary - Revolutionary was a program discussing the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County's project to become "America's Best Public Library by 2010." The library departments and tasks were divided among the steering committees and then each committee studied the area and suggested improvements - short and long term. They were each encouraged to look for "low hanging fruit" - those things you can change more quickly. It was admitted that staff were a bit fearful and dubious at first, but as they became part of the process - most are excited about the changes and opportunities. This project is huge - every aspect of the library is under scrunity and change - based on staff comments, public comments and adminstrative insight. I wish every library had a chance to undergo this type of self evaluation and forward thinking movement. Check out the webiste at PLCMC!
Public Programs in a Shoebox: What If You Don't Have a Community Room? Since we have so many smaller, or more rural libraries with limited meeting space, this title really caught my attention. Many ideas were not new - but it was good to be reminded...such as partner with your parks department, restaurants, daycares, even chuches to use their spaces. It was suggested to set up centers throughout your library to separate the crowds (hopefully) that will attend your programs. Also, an idea I hadn't personally thought of - do a progressive program (like a progressive dinner). Start the program at one location and move around town to different sites - this would require more planning and transportation - possibly - but would be fun for the participants.
I attended parts of several other sessions - I am the worst at going to 20 - 30 minutes of different sessions - seems to fit my personality well. Also, I spent quite of bit of time in the vendor areas and saw some great products and furniture - oh if only all libraries were well funded!
Finally, I was proud to pick up an Award for Best in Show for the Bedford Public Library. Way to go Bedford!!