ALA Annual 2016 turned out to be one of my most thought-provoking ALA experiences.

Emerging Leaders

This annual conference concluded my participation in the Emerging Leaders program. My team and I developed policies and practices for MAGIRT (the Map & Geospatial Information Round Table) to contribute their records to ALAIR (the ALA Institutional Repository). The intention of the project was to serve MAGIRT, but also to provide a model to other ALA units. In fact, I learned of several other groups that are working to the same end — ALCTS PARS Preservation Standards & Practices Committee, GameRT, ACRL’s Anthropology & Sociology Section — so we’re also continuing to reach out and make our resources known for others to build upon. Our outputs are undergoing approval by MAGIRT Exec right now, and when they become publicly available in ALAIR (of course!) I’ll share them here, too.

During the Emerging Leaders workshop on Friday, I learned about ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries led by Miguel Figueroa, whose charge is to:

  • Identify emerging trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve
  • Promote futuring and innovation techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future
  • Build connections with experts and innovative thinkers to help libraries address emerging issues

I immediately subscribed to the Center’s weekly newsletter, available as an email or via RSS. Highly recommended! You might also explore the ‘manual for the future of Librarianship’ and Miguel’s analysis of emerging trends with implications for libraries.

Socially Conscious Librarianship

The programs I attended clustered around a theme of social consciousness — from collecting subversive materials, to facilitating community archiving of social movements such as #BlackLivesMatter. Memorably, Jarrett Drake (digital archivist at Princeton) asserted that traditional archives are imbued with patriarchy & structural inequalities. If organizations are interested in archiving activism, they should do so as critical allies & anti-racist institutions. Libraries & archives must build trust, not in the name of collection development (give us your stuff), but in the name of allyship. We can, for example, partner with communities to meet their own needs through instruction, resource-sharing, advising upon community archiving efforts, and providing non-surveilled meeting spaces for activists. ZSR’s partnership with the congregation of St. Benedict the Moor engages these very questions, focusing first on the needs of the congregation.

Of particular interest to me was a panel of women in AUL-level positions focusing on library technology, including Jenn Riley and Karen Estlund, about their career paths and managing structural inequalities that they encountered even in libraries.

Designing ACRL Communities of Practice

Since the ACRL’s Digital Humanities Interest Group was formed a few years ago, it has been the beating heart of my ALA communities. After a few years of fabulous programming and initiatives such as dh+lib, the group is thinking about its future. Interest groups are not permanent units in ACRL, but rather start-ups. They exist for a term of 3 years with one renewal. DHIG will certainly renew; then, looking ahead, there’s the question of what’s next. Section status? Allying with the Digital Curation Interest Group, Digital Scholarship Centers Interest Group, and others to make the case for section status? For now, though, possible goals of the DHIG we articulated include:

  • cultivating a community of practice and/or learning communities
  • cross-pollinating across ALA units
  • cultivating individuals’ personal, experiential development as librarians engaged in digital humanities

Expanding upon that last point, we talked about emboldening librarians to see themselves as DH practitioners, as people with expertise & experience to bring to bear on digital humanities scholarship & pedagogy (metadata, preservation, subject knowledge, project development, design, and still others).

Lots of thought-provoking conversations at ALA — but I’m looking forward to not conferencing for a while!