ALA Virtual Midwinter 2021

Dr. Jill Biden speaks at #alamw21

So thrilled to hear Dr. Jill Biden talk about her work as an educator. She told us, “I am ready to get to work with you.” The possibilities of where a librarian partnership with our new First Lady can take education and literacy look limitless. “Loving to read equals loving to learn.” She sees the strength and resolve of librarians across the country in cities and in rural areas. So great to be seen and so great have a champion of books in the White House. Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC. 

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#alavirtual20 The difference is US.

A Virtual conference experience is different! That difference makes you stop and think okay, what usually makes a conference a great experience? Been looking at the difference and where the treasure lies – what makes it memorable and what makes it matter? When you’re in person by the time you get to the third day of a conference you’re making some careful decisions about how you’re going to use your legs and your brain. You’ve walked a few miles by now. You’ve saturated your neurons by now. Those doors on the hotel hallways aren’t opening quite as early as they were on the first two days. What are you looking for at this point in the conference? When I really think about it, at this point I’m looking for those moments when I sit down at table for lunch and I don’t know anyone else at that table. It takes…

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#ALAVirtual20 Stacy Abrams Powerhouse

Powerhouse Stacy Abrams is speaking now about the twin challenges of COVID19 and systemic racism and the impact of both on our African American community. How can libraries and librarians be a part of the change? Her answer: Reformation and Transformation. We need to reform the system with new policies and new laws and we need to transform the system by directing more dollars to education and health care to eliminate inequities. Libraries are trusted resources. Libraries are bedrock in the community. We are places where people can go to get honest and reliable information about the 2020 Census and about voter registration. Through the power of each vote and through counting each citizen especially those who are underrepresented inequities can be challenged and transformed. Librarians can create best practices to be front line workers in these powerful changes.

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#alamw20 What’s next?

#alamw20 Change is coming to ALA Midwinter 2022.  Conversations in the halls about the coming change include more educational opportunities for our professional development. Perhaps more virtual committees.  Awards committees would still meet onsite at Midwinter. I had the privilege of speaking with ALSC President Cecelia McGowan this morning. ALA website has a Forward Together link where we can get the information on where things are as we look to future conferences. In line now to board the train for home. Paid to ship 70 pounds of books home. (I will be baking my husband a blueberry pie so he will smile as the books arrive on the front porch. After 45 years of marriage he probably already knows the books are coming- just wants to be sure he gets his pie.)  

ALA Midwinter 2020

#ALAMW20 Listening to Doors Swinging Wide

Spent the first day listening. A fellow passenger getting off the train in Philly said she didn’t remember what the Newbery and Caldecott Medals are but got excitement in her voice when I explained them. A librarian from Ohio shared how deeply concerned she is about censorship of books allowed into the hands -and minds- of folks who are incarcerated and how she is going to research this issue deeply. An author at a booth in the Exhibit Hall described seeing tears in the eyes of a librarian who had stopped for a moment to read a poem in this author’s book  and with eyes brimming had discovered loving poetry for the very first time. So privileged to watch a man sit down to a steak dinner last night among a roomful of librarians who had read his story and heard him talk about all the years he lived in…