Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Let's Talk About the Future at ALA Midwinter

Logo for the ALA Midwinter Meeting, January 20-24, 2017
Remember a few weeks ago, when I talked about librarianing is a political act and how some work I had been involved in lately has encouraged me to remain an ALA member for the time being?

Remember how I had my reservations about accepting an appointment to the Center for the Future of Libraries Advisory Group?

Well, I am here to tell you how stoked I am about something that the Center for the Future of Libraries has in store for the ALA Midwinter Meeting this January in Atlanta:

The Symposium on the Future of Libraries.

Yes, I know. But check it out: this Symposium is jam-packed full of meaningful and doable learning experiences and calls to action. Here are a few of the sessions I'm going to drag you to if you're ever in my general vicinity at the Midwinter Meeting... er, may be of interest to you, Reader:

The Future of Librarian Labor
Emily Drabinski, Coordinator of Library Instruction, LIU Brooklyn
Eamon Tewell, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Long Island University, Brooklyn
In an era of unprecedented attacks on teaching and learning in higher education, how can librarians mobilize to advocate for their own wages and working conditions, which can be understood as the learning conditions of students? This session will explore labor issues in academic libraries in the context of a future marked by increasing management control. Participants will explore strategies including union struggle and cross-sector organizing as modes for working against transfers of institutional power from libraries and classrooms to administration. This session will be of interest to academic librarians in both public and private sectors.

Think Universal…To Design Accessible Services for All
Patrice Johnson, Librarian, Chicago Public Library
Pat Herndon, Director, Georgia Library for Accessible Statewide Services at Georgia Public Library Service
Jill Rothstein, Managing Librarian, Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, New York Public Library
The most popular technologies (Apple’s iPhone and iPad) build accessibility into the beginning of their design, creating experiences that are beneficial to all users. When it comes to our own future planning, libraries need to design innovative programs and accessible services that are inclusive of people with disabilities from the first stages of planning. This session will explore insights, strategies, partnerships, and resources that libraries can implement with a focus on serving those with visual and physical disabilities.

Building Civic Engagement with a Civic Lab
Amy Koester, Youth & Family Program Supervisor, Skokie Public Library
Amita Lonial, Learning Experiences Manager, Skokie Public Library
Disappearing local news sources and today’s polarized political landscape mean the library’s role as a space for civic engagement is increasingly important. The Civic Lab at Skokie Public Library is a pop-up library that encourages dialogue and engagement on the issues that affect our community. Featuring all-ages collections and resources on major and emerging issues, including climate change and Black Lives Matter, the flexible, mobile space is used for formal and informal programming for families, teens, and adults. Learn about how this type of pop-up space can invigorate civic discourse and literacy in the library and the community.

Towards A Less Normative Future in Library Services to Children/Teens
Angie Manfredi, Head of Youth Services, Los Alamos County Library System
When we envision the future of libraries, youth services librarians must actively push for de-centralizing Whiteness, particularly in our collection development. This session will help librarians critically evaluate not just the media they purchase for their youth patrons but also the sources that review it. The future of libraries, and of library collections, must reflect the reality of the communities we serve and we, as gatekeepers, need to be advocates for change.

Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Recommendations: An Equitable Future for ALA and the Profession
Leslie Scott, Library Director, Prosper Community Library (Texas)
Melissa Cardenas-Dow
Martin Garnar, Dean, Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Lessa Pelayo-Lozada, Young Readers Librarian, Palos Verdes Library District
LaJuan Pringle, Branch Manager, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
ALA’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has developed a plan and strategic actions to build more equity, diversity, and inclusion among our members, the field of librarianship, and our communities. As these recommendations shift to an Implementation Working Group in 2016-2018, we will need to continue the public and honest conversations that help keep these issues at the forefront. Task Force and Working Group members will present the recommendations in the context of the future of the United States and will ask for participation from attendees to help advance our profession to reflect and represent our nation’s ever-increasing diversity. All library workers will benefit from learning how they can contribute to this important work.

21st Century Library Ethics
Sarah Houghton, Director, San Rafael Public Library
As the world goes increasingly digital, the climate surrounding information politics becomes increasingly convoluted. Libraries are caught in the heart of these tangled issues. When was the last time you looked at the ethical statements of our profession? When you sign contracts and revise policies are you keeping those ethics in mind? As you develop programs for your users are you thinking about how to fold in the ethics of freedom of information and privacy? If not, now's a great time to start.

Crafting Successful Youth Civic Engagement in Information Spaces
Chaebong Nam, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Government, Harvard University
Danielle Allen, Professor, Department of Government/Graduate School of Education, Director, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University
Libraries are the key information space for young people to engage in a range of connected digital experiences. How can information professionals help young people leverage libraries to craft successful civic engagement—not only physical space but human, organizational, and social resources¬¬? To address this issue, in part, participants will learn of an action-reflection frame for youth participation developed by MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Youth Participatory Politics. Then, they can discuss practical steps to infuse the frame into practice. Library professionals who closely work with youth are welcome, especially youth services librarians and school librarians.

...Right?! Right?!
The whole schedule is online here.

If you missed a chance to submit a proposal for Midwinter, never fear! Another Symposium is in the works for Annual.

One more thing:

Interested in exploring a project that will result in a deliverable to help inform the future of libraries? Apply for the Center for the Future of Libraries fellowship. Deadline is January 15, 2017!

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