Despite the exotic setting in Vegas, for me this summer’s ALA felt very routine in that I attended all my old standby sessions — ACRL Digital Curation Interest Group, ACRL Digital Humanities Interest Group, and programs sponsored by the ALCTS CAMMS Metadata Interest Group, among others.

Digital Humanities and Academic Libraries: Practice and Theory, Power and Privilege

My favorite session of the conference — scratch that, my favorite ALA session of all time — was a program titled Digital Humanities and Academic Libraries: Practice and Theory, Power and Privilege organized by the ACRL Women and Gender Studies Section. The session did a fabulous job of collapsing the distinction between theory and practice; rather, thinking deeply about how the digital humanities are practiced “increases our ability to partner with and be valued on our campuses.” During this program I experimented with taking notes on Twitter—both because it enabled me to participate in a broader conversation (inside the conference center room and beyond) and because live tweeting forced me to think about to think about what I found most meaningful rather than simply transcribing. A few tweets that capture the program’s most memorable talking points are below.

ALCTS PARS Preservation Metadata Interest Group

As co-chair of the ALCTS PARS Preservation Metadata Interest Group, I was sad to bid goodbye to outgoing co-chair Sarah Potvin (Digital Scholarship Librarian at Texas A&M University) and delighted to meet incoming co-chair Drew Krewer (Digitization Operations Librarian at the University of Houston). I feel really grateful to collaborate with such wonderful people, whom I wouldn’t get to know so well without sharing these service responsibilities.

The program that Sarah and I developed focused on the use of the BitCurator tool to generate preservation metadata for born-digital materials. (I wrote at greater length about BitCurator in an earlier post.) We experimented somewhat with the format of the program in the hopes of facilitating a dialogue between BitCurator developers and current BitCurator users as well as those considering incorporating BitCurator into their workflows for processing born-digital materials. The format of our program was an in-depth overview of BitCurator from its PI Cal Lee, as well as two lightning talks from current BitCurator users, Jarrett M. Drake (Princeton University) and Rebecca Russell and Amanda Focke (Rice University). Many of the people who are on the ground using BitCurator to acquire disk images and generate metadata are SAA-goers rather than ALA-goers, but our program exposed preservation administrators to a helpful tool from the perspective of its builders and its users at more than one institution. Afterward more than one person who was in attendance expressed interest in joining the recently announced BitCurator Consortium. Fabulous slides from all the presenters are available in the Preservation Metadata Interest Group’s space on ALA Connect.

Discussion with Digitization Equipment Vendors

I valued the opportunity to speak in person with representatives of the Crowley Company (distributor of Zeutschel overhead scanners) and Atiz (maker of the BookDrive). I got a clearer idea of various models’ technical specifications and list prices, which is helpful information to tuck away for future reference.

Favorite Publishers in the Exhibit Hall

Like many people, I find the exhibit hall overwhelming, but since I’ve started going to ALA I’ve been on a quest to find my favorite small press publishers so that I know exactly which booths to visit for the best literary fiction and non-fiction of the coming year. I like visiting the smaller publishers because often the marketing staff in the booth are actually the people who did editorial work on the titles they’re promoting, so they speak from a place of deep knowledge and love when they share their favorite new works. This was the first year when I’ve felt as though I’ve found the presses that most appeal to me — Coffee House Press, The New Press, NYRB, Workman Publishing, and SoHo Press — so I’m totally indulging myself and sharing all of my favorite finds below. I hauled them all back to my office to create a tiny library of things to read during lunch, so drop by if you’d like to borrow any. I’m curious to hear from others, too. What are your go to booths for books for personal reading at ALA?

My favorite finds from the Exhibit Hall at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Vegas

Above: My favorite finds from the Exhibit Hall at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Vegas.