From the Desk of ALA: 9/12/2014 Executive Director Report Highlights

On 9/12/2014, American Library Association (ALA) Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels sent out his 19 page “Report to [ALA] Council and Executive Board.” The full report will eventually be posted to the 2013-2014 Executive Board Documents page on the ALA website. Below are three pages of highlights provided by Director Fiels.  Please let me know if you have questions or comments about any of this material or would like a copy of the full report.


Report to Council and Executive Board

 September 12, 2014

 Keith Michael Fiels Executive Director


Membership Count

The ALA membership count as of July 31, 2014 was 56,280.  Four divisions and four Round Tables had membership increases compared to July 2013.


Celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month

September is Library Card Sign-up Month and new downloadable tools along with print and digital public service announcements (PSAs) are now available.  Tools include a sample press release, op-ed, proclamation, PSA scripts and radio quality PSAs.  Legendary comic creator Stan Lee is serving as the Honorary Chair of Library Card Sign-up Month in September.  Stan Lee taped a brief interview with PIO/Campaign staff and shared these comments: “Having a library card, it’s like having a key to all the information in the world.  When you have a library card you can read anything about anything, and I have found that whatever you read, it doesn’t matter – it increases your fund of knowledge.  So a library card is the ‘Open Sesame’ to all the knowledge in the world.”  Lee has also agreed to promote Library Card Sign-Up Month through his social media channels.


Nearly 100 Percent of Public Libraries Offer Tech Training and Workforce Programs, Study Finds

According to a new ALA study, nearly 100 percent of America’s public libraries offer workforce development training programs, online job resources, and technology skills training. Overall, libraries report technology improvements—including nearly ubiquitous public Wi-Fi, growing mobile resources and a leap in e-book access—but the ALA’s 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey also documents digital differences among states and an urban/rural divide. Unique to this study are the Interactive mapping tools that combine digital inclusion survey and community-level data.  The map enables libraries to better understand their community demographics, education and learning, economic/workforce, and health contexts along with the digital inclusion services that they provide.  The study is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and conducted by the ALA Office for Research & Statistics and the Information Policy & Access Center at the University of Maryland College Park.  Grant partners include ALA OITP and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).  Read the press release.


Workforce Bill Passes, Includes Libraries

In July, President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, a law that will open access to federal funding support to public libraries for effective job training and job search programs.  ALA President Courtney Young applauded the presidential signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in a statement.  ALA thanks Senator Jack Reed (DRI) and Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) for their efforts to include libraries in the legislation.


ALA Active on Surveillance and Privacy Issues

ALA continues to work closely and aggressively in tandem with partners in several coalitions to reform the multiple statutes that provide the government with various forms of surveillance and investigatory authority.  In June, ALA joined more than 30 other civil liberties and privacy organizations in writing to key members of the Senate to support the modification of the USA FREEDOM Act so that it truly ends the “bulk collection” of telephone business records, and builds transparency and additional oversight into court-approved surveillance activities.


Simon & Schuster Expands ebook Lending Program

In June, Simon & Schuster revealed that it will expand its pilot library ebook lending program to serve all U.S. libraries.  Immediate Past President Barbara Stripling responded to the ebook expansion by releasing a press statement indicating ALA encouragement of the continued progress on the library ebook front, though noting much work remains to be done.


2014 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

Booklist and RUSA hosted the 2014 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence award ceremony at the ALA Annual Conference.  Both medal winners, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Donna Tartt, were present to accept their awards in person.  Nancy Pearl served as emcee, and celebrated crime fiction author and library champion Karin Slaughter delighted audiences with her keynote speech.  Kearns Goodwin received the nonfiction medal for The Bully Pulpit and Tartt received the fiction medal for The Goldfinch.  A dessert and cocktail reception followed, where guests mingled with all three authors.  In addition to coverage of the announcements in many national media outlets, more than 451,000 Web pickups were noted.  (see also RUSA coverage in this  Report)


AASL Transforms Learning with New Mission Statement and Strategic Plan

AASL challenges leaders in all fields to bring about an evolution in student learning with its adoption of a new mission statement and strategic plan.  During the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, the AASL Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve the mission statement: The American Association of School Librarians empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.


PLA Board Approves Updated Strategic Plan

At the 2014 ALA Annual Conference, the PLA Board of Directors approved an updated strategic plan that builds on PLA’s success to date, regarding two strategic goal areas in particular — Advocacy & Awareness and Leadership & Transformation—and focuses the association for the next three years.  The desired outcome of the planning process is to guide and create clarity on how PLA should invest its valuable and limited resources to meet the future needs of its members and other stakeholders.  Read the background and revised strategic plan.


ALSC National Institute

The ALSC National Institute with the theme of “Expanding Our Worlds, Creating Community,” will be held September 18 – 20, 2014 in Oakland, California.  Featuring quality educational programming and inspirational speakers, event registration has reached maximum capacity and is now waiting-list only.  A number of award-winning authors and illustrators will be present at the Institute and a special reception, held at Children’s Fairyland, is a highlight event.


LITA Forum in Albuquerque

LITA is organizing the 2014 Forum with two workshops, three keynotes, 30 plus concurrent sessions, poster sessions, and multiple networking opportunities.  The Forum is scheduled for Wednesday, November 5 through Saturday, November 8 and promises to deliver strong programming and networking opportunities.  The two workshops begin on Wednesday, November 5, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and run through Thursday, November 6, 8:00 a.m. to noon.  Learn Python by Playing with Library Data with Francis Kayiwa will provide the basics on how to set up your Python environment, install useful packages, and, write programs. Linked Data for Libraries: How libraries can make use of Linked Open Data to share information about library resources and to improve discovery, access, and understanding for library users will feature Dean Krafft and Jon Corson-Rikert from Cornell University Library.  For more information, also see the LITA section of this report.


Stay Up to Date on Young Adult Literature

The 2014 YA Literature Symposium will be held on November 14-16 in Austin, Texas.   Check out the preliminary program, register at  Early registration closes September 15.  Join the conversation on Twitter with #yalit14


American Libraries Live Free Streaming Video Broadcasts

A recent American Libraries Live episode (free streaming video broadcasts) included a discussion on “The Kid and Teen-Friendly Library,” moderated by Jennifer Velasquez with expert panelists Amy J. Alessio, Lana Adlawan, Heather Booth, and Amanda Foulk.  This episode is available in the archive on  The next episode will be September 18 on “Libraries Self-Service Software and Devices.”  Advertising sponsorship continues to grow, and most of the programs average more than 1,200 viewers.  AL Live is a shared project between American Libraries and ALA TechSource.

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Making a Mess in our MakerSpace: Fireworks in a Jar and a Poor Man’s Lava Lamp

Daniel Cornwall:

A couple of cool experiments to use in children’s programs. Thanks Ingrid for sharing!

Originally posted on The Magpie Librarian: A Librarian's Guide to Modern Life and Etiquette:

We do a MakerSpace session every week with our school-aged library kids. For whatever reason, this is not a program I typically lead, so I always get a little nervous when it’s my turn. I wanted to do something STEM-y and science experiment-y as opposed to artsy and craftsy, so I started searching for inexpensive and easy-to-execute science experiments. After some searching and clicking, I found a website called I Can Teach My Child, run by a former teacher and current mom. Two projects seemed doable: Fireworks in a Jar and a Lava Lamp experiment. I like that Jenae, who runs the site, breaks down not only how to do the experiment but also the science behind it.

I had a fairly small group, thankfully, because these experiments have the potential to get messy and out of hand. Thanks to Emma from Miss Print for taking pictures! She is…

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What are you doing for Get a Library Card Sign Up Month?

September is Library Card Sign Up Month. What are you doing either as an individual or as a library to encourage people in your community to claim their library card?

I drafted a post on my personal blog pointing people in the largest cities in Alaska to where they can get information on getting their library card.

Let’s do our best to encourage people to use one of their community’s most helpful resources – the public library!

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Personal Learning Network Updated

As a result of the Fall 2013 Hyperlinked Library MOOC, I formalized a Personal Learning Network (PLN). At the time I said I’d update my PLN under any of the following conditions:

  • Once a year in January
  • Whenever my job duties change
  • When pieces of the network die (i.e. if Facebook were to go under)
  • If I become bored with its output

My blog readership is light enough that you probably didn’t notice I didn’t change anything in January. That’s because back then I had rumblings that my job duties were going to shift. Things were quite fluid for awhile, but in July I was given a lateral reassignment. My previous position won’t be refilled. I’m actually pretty thrilled about the change.

As the new Internet and Technology Consultant for the Alaska State Library’s Library Development section, I’m doing less supervision, less bureaucratic infighting and more direct engagement with Alaska’s libraries.

So now that the change in job duties is official, it is time to update my PLN. Aside from dropping supervision of division IT management, some internal cat herding and liaising with outside IT agencies, many of my duties are similar to my former position. They’re just directed outwards instead of inwards. So I view my learning needs as similar. So the PLN is tweaked rather than redone wholesale.

The biggest change was probably in my Technology Skills section, where I wiped out a number of free sites in favor of my institution’s new subscription to It’s already helped me out in a few skill areas.

Another change of note is in my maintenance plan. I originally planned to follow a number of resources via NetVibes. While I still respect NetVibes as an excellent RSS reader, it turns out I didn’t need yet one more place to log into each day. So I’m sticking mostly with email, Twitter and Facebook.

I do plan to look at my PLN again in January 2015, after I have six months or so of library consultations and training under my belt. I may eliminate the staff development piece altogether since Library Development has a Continuing Education Coordinator. But I’d like to see how things play out.

If you were in the HyperLinked Library MOOC or regular SJSU course and did the Personal Learning Network project I’d love to hear how (or whether) you’ve tweaked your PLN since you finished the class.


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#ALA Conference Committee Discusses Future of Conferences, Expansion of Midwinter

This week the ALA Committee Report: ALA Conference Committee, 2013-2014 was posted to ALA Connect.  While I encourage all ALA members to read through the whole report, I wanted to quote two sections that I think will be of special interest (headings mine):

Future Directions for Conferences Based on Survey Results

  • Based on 2012 and 2013 survey results and other data, discussed future directions for ALA conferences. (ALA Conference Committee and 2014 CPCT)
    • Based on data reviewed, there was consensus that focus, simplification and increased clarity were desirable.
    • Considered limiting number of programs to be presented at AC; consider whether every subgroup MUST present a program as that is sometimes their only reason for being.
    • Considered holding some program slots for joint or collaborative programs that would be required to have 2 or more groups involved in planning and presentation.
    • Based on feedback, there must be attention to session times, session formats, session quality, alignment and timeliness.
    • A key objective should be an integrated conference experience.
    • ALA’s distinctive position is the “big tent,” crossing type-of-library, type-of-activity and special interest boundaries. There was extensive discussion on issues relating to both unified identify (“big ALA”) and individual group identity (division, round table, other group).
    • Specifically address the time-contention issue. One possibility would be to considered repeating high-demand sessions. (2014 CPCT)
    • Encourage collaboration in programming. (2014 CPCT)
    • Consider making video clips available in advance to encourage attendance and session participation. (2014 CPCT)
    • Require subject headings and tags. (2014 CPCT)
    • Build a “tag cloud” for each conference, as a way to illustrate focus. (2014 CPCT)

Note: CPCT stands for Conference Program Coordinating Team.

ALA Conference Committee Discussion of Proposal to Expand Midwinter

  • At the 2014 Annual Conference, reviewed a Council resolution on programs at the Midwinter Meeting, referred from the ALA Budget Analysis and Review Committee.
    • Reviewed a background document (MW Program Discussion – publicly posted on the committee’s ALA Connect site).
    • Invited Jennifer Boettcher (RUSA Councilor and proposer) to the meeting to clarify intent and to participate in the discussion.
    • Explored various options. Discussion indicated little support for any significant expansion of the Midwinter Meeting footprint, i.e., there is no desire for a second annual.  The policy as it exists allows for “limited” programming, with authorization of the ALA Executive Board.  That authority has, for instance, been utilized to add a limited number of “Auditorium” programs to Midwinter.  The ALA Conference Committee will continue this discussion over the coming months, with the intent to respond to the ALA Budget Committee prior to their Fall 2014 Meeting, so that BARC can, in turn, respond to the ALA Council.
    • Related to the discussion of programming at Midwinter, there was a discussion of Discussion/Interest/Member Initiative Group content – at both Midwinter and Annual. Discussion focused on the tug become agility/currency and planning/communication.  There was general consensus that the content provided by these groups is valuable, but still no consensus on an effective resolution to the question of how to best manage the conflict between agility/currency and planning/communication.

As I said, I think the whole report is worth reading for ALA members. If you have questions or concerns about what I’ve posted here, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

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#ala See You in Philadelphia for #alaac31

In a recent ALA Connect post to the ALA Conference Committee Connect group ALA staffer Mary Ghikas posted this* current schedule of Midwinter and Annual Conferences from 2012 – 2031:

Midwinter Fri-Tues Annual Thurs-Tues
2012 Dallas Jan 20-25 Anaheim June 21-27
2013 Seattle Jan 25-30 Chicago June 27-July 2
2014 Philadelphia Jan 24-28 Las Vegas June 26-July 1
2015 Chicago Jan 30 – Feb 3 San Francisco June 25-30
2016 Boston Jan 8-12 Orlando June 23-28
2017 Atlanta Jan 20-24 Chicago June 22-27
2018 Denver Feb 9-13 New Orleans June 21-26
2019 Seattle Jan 25-29 DC June 20-25
2020 Philadelphia Jan 17-21 Chicago June 23-28
2021 Indianapolis Jan 22-26 San Francisco June 24-29
2022 San Antonio Jan 21-25 Philadelphia June 23-28
2023 New Orleans Jan 27-31 Chicago June 22-27
2024 Denver Feb 9-13 San Diego June 27-July 2
2025 Not Set n/a DC June 26-July 1
2026 Not Set n/a Chicago June 25-30
2027 Philadelphia Jan 22-26 New Orleans June 24-29
2028 Not Set n/a Not Set n/a
2029 Not Set n/a DC June 21-26
2030 Not Set n/a Not Set n/a
2031 Not Set n/a Philadelphia June 26-July 1


Why do we plan conferences so far out in advance? I’ll let Ms. Ghikas answer with the note she posted with the spreadsheet:

Here is the current schedule of future sites, for your information.  We are showing you both ALA MW and AC and Division Conference sites.  Let me know if you have questions.

For those new to the ALA Conference Committee, sites for MW and AC are approved by the ALA Executive Board.  ALA Conference Services will bring proposed sites to the ALA Conference Committee, as well as the Exhibits Round Table board, for recommendation (or not) to the ALA Executive Board.

We are often asked why we select so far in advance.  It has to do with the size and complexity of the site the ALA requires.  We are (still) utilizing about 350 *concurrent* meeting rooms for AC.  That means we require not only a large convention center but hotels with significant “conference” facilities (meeting rooms) at a reasonable distance from the convention center.  We have historically had very minimal flexibility on dates — looking at holidays, school schedules, other conferences in the library space, etc.  All in all, it’s a tricky package to put together — and the closer we get to the year of a conference, the more likely that one or more critical piece of the package will no longer be available.  So we, like other large conference sponsors, book far in advance and then let other, smaller, conferences, work around us, instead of vice versa.

One piece of explanation, since you are all coming from different places in ALA:  The ACRL and PLA conferences are spring conferences; the AASL conferences are in the fall.  So the ACRL conference in 2015 will come between ALA MW and ALA AC; the 2015 AASL conference will come between the 2015 ALA AC and the 2016 ALA MW.

Let me know if you have questions.


My only comment at this time is to point out that when there are calls to boycott a specific city for various reasons, trying to shift an ALA conference is like steering a supertanker. It also means that if you love or hate a city, you should do your best to make your objections known a decade in advance. This sounds harsh, but as long as we have physical in person conferences, logistics is going to be our harsh taskmaster.


*I filled in “not set” and “n/a” where there were blanks in the original spreadsheet so that it would cut and paste properly. I also left out the Divisional conferences for the sake of focusing on Big ALA

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Code of Conduct Survey Results: Your Stories

Daniel Cornwall:

Some very creepy stories out of ALA conferences. This is why we need to keep our Code of Conduct.

Originally posted on The Magpie Librarian: A Librarian's Guide to Modern Life and Etiquette:

Welcome to my second post regarding the results of my Code of Conduct surveyPreviously, I shared the cold-hard numbers, which are certainly helpful, but do not reflect the entire story of Code of Conduct violations at ALA Conferences. I left ample room for respondents to talk about their experiences. Here, I will share the stories and anecdotes that respondents were kind enough to include.

Before others tell their stories, I believe it would be polite and only right to share two of mine. I have been harassed several times at conferences, but two main stories compelled me to create the Code of Conduct survey. We all respond to different situations in our own ways. Verbal harassment never bothers me for long. It just rolls off my back. I think my tough NY exterior has desensitized me to certain kinds of behavior. However, unwanted touching bothers me beyond all belief…

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