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Should You Attend a Virtual Conference? #ALAVirtual2020

Now that the 2020 ALSC National Institute will also be transitioning to a virtual conference this year, it seems like virtual conferences will be our new normal for awhile. How do you know if a virtual conference is right for you? Here are some pros and cons from my own ALA Virtual experience. Pro: You can spend the entire conference in your pajamas and no one will judge you. Con: No one can compliment your cool collection of children’s book-themed t-shirts. Pro: No airfare, hotel stay, or food budget means virtual conferences can be much more affordable, especially for those of us who have never been able to attend national conferences before. Con: Instead of seeing a new city, you only see your couch, and instead of enjoying some tasty conference dinners out and about, you’re stuck with what’s in your own fridge. Pro: Many of ALA’s session this year…

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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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Are You Violating Copyright? at #ALAVirtual2020

This year’s ALA conference has had a few sessions on aspects on our new COVID world. One, called “Trouble in Paradise: are you violating copyright by using social media read alouds?” featured four panelists, who gave their interpretations on copyright law for several scenarios. Most relevant for most of us, was this scenario: Can I post a read aloud or storytime to social media however I want, and then, if challenged, just say that I’m a librarian or educator and need to use it to support my students in a special circumstance? The firm answer from the panel was no. Special circumstances, be they a hurricane or a pandemic, do not exempt us from following copyright law. Here was some of their advice: Avoid posting on public channels that anyone can access. A private Youtube channel is better than a public Youtube channel. And even a private channel can still…

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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.

ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Healing Reading Trauma at #alavirtual20

In the presentation Healing Reading Trauma: Rebuilding a Love of Reading Through Libraries for liberation (presented by the awesome Julie Stivers and Julia Torres), I learned the term “reading trauma.” What is reading trauma, you might ask? When a student has such a poor experience with their literacy education, that they come to feel shamed, stupid, and unrepresented in the world of books, then they’ve experienced reading trauma that can negatively affect not just their entire education, but their self-image as well. What causes reading trauma? According to Stivers and Torres, some of the causes include: High-stakes testing, which encourages students not to engage authentically with their education, but to instead “perform” a false form of scholarship that seeks to simply regurgitate the answers wanted by the test givers. A fixation on “classics,” most of which are written by dead, white, straight, cis-gendered men. Many of these classics both reinforce…