Thursday, August 1, 2013

ALA Chicago Conference Summary!

It has taken me a few weeks to post a summary of my activities at ALA Annual in Chicago in late June/early July. Chicago is a fun city and I arrived downtown when the Chicago Blackhawks Parade for winning the Stanley Cup was happening so crazy, red shirt, screaming fans everywhere - but I found then all to be polite and not too annoying (though a rolling suitcase through a crowds helps clear a path :)
view from room
I stayed -  not in a hotel this time  - but a dorm-like University Center housing called Chicago Summer Housing, that was secure, great location, simple but with all basic necessities (like WiFi, free breakfast but no TV or any fancy hotel like things I never need) and cheap at $52/night! I had a librarian friend roommate and we share a joint bathroom with two other awesome librarians I know. Highly recommend checking it out if you are in Chicago for ALA next time
my room

ALA for me this year was a lot of meetings. As I was taking over as elected Chair of the ACRL University Libraries Section, I had a lot of business related events. Friday began with the ACRL Leadership Council Meeting focusing on Communities of Practices activities. I did like our "cafe style discussions" where we moved to new table every 10 minutes, to talk about the questions "what could we achieve? What challenges do we face? and What would we like to know?" rotating again and again, with a constant scribe staying at the table. Good way to meet others in ACRL outside my usual haunts and hear their ideas and directions. I liked that leaders in ACRL we want to see more of a "pull for knowledge rather than a push."  I also attended the ULS Executive meeting one early morning and enjoyed seeing those who could attend, sharing ideas (such as more ULS webinars or "virtual conversations"  to engage more than just at physical conferences, with more ULS members!) and celebrating our accomplishments.  I look forward to taking over as chair this year with such dynamic, and innovative ULS committee chairs, conveners and members!

I attended a few informative but fun sessions such as one from the GameRT on makerspace and fablabs happening in various libraries. Some public libraries has a fab lab on carts to roll out or move around locations in town. Also the push for STEM to shift to STEAM - adding the A for art - as art and creativity in the STEM environment is also just as important.  The ULS program this year was Busting Out of the Cubicle: Your Creative Self at Work - a fun interactive session where we played with Legos and more. The idea is that we ALL can be creative if given the time, strategies and facilitator. The presenters from U of Guelph were amazing and I highly recommend viewing their slides and ideas:

As co-chair of the Distance Learning Section's Program Planning Committee for Chicago, a big role for putting on our program "Is It Worth It? Assessing Online Instruction" We had over 310 attendees for this panel of 3 librarians and a moderator who keep the session interactive and yes NO powerpoints were used - a PBS NewsHour style session. Great ideas were suggested and interesting questions asked by attendees!  Following the program I also had to attend the DLS Exec meeting which is also nice time to meet other DE Libraries, share thoughts and catch up on projects.

As recently appointed co-chair of the Innovations Committee for the ACRL 2015 conference in Portland, OR (woot!) I attended a meeting for those taking over to learn tips and idea from those who were co-chairs for 2013 conference. Good information and I really look forward to this unique ACRL service over the next 2 years - being able to be creative and innovative with ideas and working with people on the committee with that same mindset. Let's see what cool innovations we can bring to 2015 with the theme Libraries Build Sustainable Communities.

SustainRT walk - photo by M. Egherman
This theme wraps into my last involvement at ALA which is the newly formed Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT) which I helped get approval at ALA Seattle in January. In September ALA members will be able to sign up officially for SustainRT and spring 2014 there will be elections. For now its just a number of us sort of leading the way, and drawing in other interested people especially those who want to take the lead (as you can tell I need to cut back on service leadership activities :) Our meeting on Monday morning had an amazing 24 people attending  (at ALA Anaheim last year we had only 3 interested!) and hopefully they will get involved! We even had 2 international librarians from Aruba and St Maarten. These international folks were part of a session "How the Dutch Caribbean Goes Green with Libraries and Other Supporters: A Panel Presentation"Fascinating and inspiring how these islands are advancing in green energy and sustainability. The National Library of Aruba supports the annual Green Aruba Conference, Symposiums,  and a Sustainability Education program. The library in St Maarten had a solar energy project, adding 48 panels on their roof, 200kw hours saving $17700 in 40 months! Out SustainRT folks also met at the Chicago River Walk for a beautiful afternoon stroll along the waterfront.

Lastly there were fun social as well, which often are the best for networking and meting other librarians from all over the globe. The ULS Social was held outside on a rooftop location and I enjoyed seeing many of my DE librarians friends there as well:  (PS Recommended place eat at least once while in Chicago Native Foods Cafe!)
With librarians from Utah State, MS State, U of Central FL, JHU, and Winona

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