This ALA Midwinter conference was my first since I became a Director-at-Large on the LITA Board. This meant that the majority of my conference activities were meetings and the events sponsored by LITA. On the business side of things, the board holds two separate 3 hour meetings on Saturday and Monday afternoons. I used them to become more aware of the types of issues that are addressed at these and to get a feel of how my fellow board members function at the meetings. It was a pleasure to watch LITA president (and our own) Thomas Dowling lead both meetings. He kept everyone on track and on time. I understand it was one of the first times that all agenda items were addressed by the end of the two meetings. Way to go, Thomas!
At each ALA, LITA sponsors its signature event, Top Technology Trends. It is always a full house and the TTT Committee works hard to put together a diverse group of tech experts (which is no easy task). One thing I’ve learned about LITA members is that they are not shy on Twitter and as the program was in progress, people were invited to use the hashtag #alattt to make comments. What came across immediately was a voiced concern on the diversity (really the lack of diversity) of the panel. Of course, people don’t know the back story on what efforts were made to secure diversity. This time, one of the diverse panelists had a last minute emergency and couldn’t attend and 18 other females/persons of color/etc. declined to participate for various reasons. However, that didn’t stop one person from writing a long blog post about The Problems with the LITA Top Tech Panels. But what I think is great about LITA (and its new Executive Director, Jenny Levine) is that it embraces this sort of feedback and looks for ways to improve. At Monday’s Town Hall Meeting (a meeting with the best hot breakfast ever served at an ALA event), President-elect Aimee Fifarek invited participants to brainstorm about three major areas of opportunity for LITA – remote membership, information policy, and diversity and inclusion.
I ended the weekend having a new appreciation of my fellow board members and the work they have been doing and that I will now help them do!
Midwinter doesn’t give a board member much chance to attend non-division events, but I did take the opportunity to attend the President’s Program where New Jersey Senator Cory Booker spoke. He is a most inspiring speaker and you can read a summary of his main themes on the American Libraries Magazine website.
It was good to visit Boston in the winter when it doesn’t have snow, but there was a wide range of weather from winter rain to bitter cold/high winds. I did manage to eke out an hour or so to capture some of the sights of the city. And special thanks need to go to Chelcie who graciously let me share her room when my original plans to share fell through. It wouldn’t have been a good time of year to be homeless in Boston!