Are you heading to the PLA conference later this month?
As you plan your schedule, please note that the Edge coalition will host an update session on the development of public access technology benchmarks to help libraries improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of computer and Internet services (read our December post to learn more about this work). This forum will give you an opportunity to ask questions and provide input on the “beta” benchmarks – the first version that will be tested in the coming months – as well as the tools that libraries will need to use the benchmarks.
The informational session will take place on Saturday, March 17th at 10:15 a.m. in Room 116 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
We hope to see you there, and safe travels to Philadelphia!
Perhaps it was the initial threat of cancellation that made my ALA Midwinter experience so endearing. Regardless, it brought about a renewed love for libraries and for all the amazing work of librarians, ALA members and staff, and for the organizations that support and sustain that work. Wearing more “hats” than ever, I traveled through the conference with others committed to showcasing and sustaining rural libraries, public access technology, workforce development efforts, youth literature, and equity of access for all! The weekend was a poignant reminder of just how grateful I am to be in a profession committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to public resources and services. I’m sending this conference report/love letter out to all who share this commitment, but especially to those of you who were back at your libraries doing the great work you do so well!
Directly from the airport, I joined attendees at the OCLC Americas Regional Council Symposium unfortunately too late to hear keynote Sara Lacy (recordings now available for all speakers at symposium) but glad to have heard OCLC’s Cathy De Rosa, share a preview of librarian perception data collected in a recent OCLC Membership Survey (See Public Libraries Snapshot of the data). Thanks to Jamie LaRue for highlighting from his notes some of the very interesting librarian perspectives on their library priorities, how they stay connected, and where they think OCLC should focus efforts. With WebJunction webinars near and dear to my heart, I was particularly pleased to see confirmation of my gut feeling that library staff are more often using webinars to stay up to date and to connect with others. Of the public library responses, 43% of library directors, 50% of managers, and 52% of librarians use webinars to support their ongoing learning and development. We’ll be sure to let you know when the full results of the survey are released.
Day two began with a visit to the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) Advisory Committee meeting. I was very excited to hear from other committees that work with the OLOS office and especially looking forward to the upcoming release of a new toolkit focused on adult literacy. I also learned about an ALA grant project with Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the American Dream Starts @ your Library project, which has enabled libraries around the country to develop and implement programs engaging English language learners in their communities.
Later that morning, I led the ALA Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds Committee (RNTLOAK) meeting where we shared an update on the distribution and promotion of the recently updated Small but Powerful Toolkit for Winning Support for your Rural Library revised in collaboration with OLOS, RNTLOAK and the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL). If you haven’t yet explored the toolkit and want to learn more, check out last month’s webinar. We also talked about our committee’s ALA Annual plans and are very excited to be co-sponsoring two programs in Anaheim with OLOS, ARSL and the American Indian Library Association (AILA). The two programs will explore Advocacy and Fundraising for your Rural or Tribal Library and Building and Sustaining Strategic Plans and Partnerships in your Rural or Tribal Community. And thank you to Stephen Matthews, our committee’s ALA Executive Board Liaison, for sharing the opportunity made available by Annual Conference planners for attendees to present or facilitate outside of traditional program presentations. Learn more and submit a proposal for a Conversation Starter or Ignite Session before February 19.
Following a lovely Saturday lunch with Texas librarians (at Cindi’s Deli, where I ate lunch on Sunday too! mmm), I attended a forum and group discussion on the Edge Initiative, a national effort to introduce benchmarks for high quality public access technology in libraries. The session included a “sneak peek” at a draft of the benchmarks and some insightful and engaged table discussions. Thanks to PLA’s Mary Hirsch and TechSoup’s Sarah Washburn who both provide a summary of their table’s discussions. WebJunction’s Kendra Morgan shared a bit about our involvement in the initiative in December and we’ll keep you posted on next steps!
Project Compass staff wrapped up the day with a state library focus group to share year-two outcomes of Project Compass and to get input on one final event we’re planning for the spring: a national convening of librarians focused on responding to economic impact on communities, supporting 21st century skills development and building sustainable partnerships. We’ll have more details very soon!
The OCLC Update Breakfast was, as always, very informative, even to this OCLC staffer! I just have to share one cool project from the OCLC Research folks, the WorldCat Identities Network, a new way to visually explore the interconnectivity and relationships between WorldCat Identities.
The climax of my love letter comes with Sunday afternoon’s Small but Powerful Forum, which brought together a small but powerful group of attendees representing state libraries, regional trainers, rural librarians, and my good friends from TechSoup for Libraries, to hear from Dr. Robert Martin about UNT’s powerful PEARL project, Tina Hager about her powerful Texas rural library collaborations with community partners and more on the Small but Powerful Toolkit for Winning Support for your Rural Library. But if you know me at all, you know the table discussions, world cafe-style, are always my favorite part of a conference. The all-too-short time to brainstorm the “core qualities of rural leadership” was a good start, but we’ll have to keep the conversation alive!
Early Monday morning, I felt honored to be invited to join in the great Midwinter tradition, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at this year’s Sunrise Celebration, Honoring a Legacy that Still Inspires. On behalf of RNTLOAK and ARSL, I was invited to join many other association, committee and round table leadership in a presentation of quotes from King’s legacy, inspirational speakers, and always my favorite, some singing! I touched base with folks who are co-chairing this fall’s 2012 Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) in Kansas City. I attended the first ever JCLC conference in Dallas, and similar to the ARSL conference, it is an intimate but powerful gathering, with a focus on exploring issues of diversity in libraries.
And since I was up at that hour, I was lucky enough to attend the Youth Media Awards, the “Oscars” of libraryland. You may not know that I came to libraries as a children’s bookseller with my first ever library job as a children’s services substitute. It was a real treat to sit amongst the thousands of youth librarians gathered for the exciting event, knowing they’ve probably read most all of the books and have already done the work of getting the outstanding books into the hands of readers. You can watch the webcast of the event or videos of the winning authors and illustrators. I have enormous respect for all who bring these works of literary and visual art into being and for the committees who award them the recognition they deserve.
I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures this time round, but I do recommend browsing the ALAMW12 pool on Flickr to catch a glimpse of the love in the air.
As Louie Schwartzberg says, “we protect what we fall in love with” and so, may we continue to protect what we love, including our libraries.
It’s hard to believe we’re packing for travel to Dallas next week! We hope to see you at some of these Midwinter events where you’re sure to find WebJunctioneers:
OCLC Americas Regional Council Annual Member Meeting and Symposium
Friday, January 20, 12:00-5:00 pm
Omni Dallas Hotel, Dallas Ballroom EFG
Open to all! Join your OCLC member colleagues for a fast-paced, informative afternoon. We’ll start with a light lunch at noon. After a brief welcome from ARC Chair William Maes, you’ll hear a dynamic keynote presentation from author and TechCrunch Senior Editor Sarah Lacy, who will speak on “Mining the Fault Lines: Big Collaboration on a Richter Web Scale,” with Q&A to follow. Barbara Preece, ARC Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, will give a membership update, followed by roundtable discussions. Then, OCLC senior managers will share membership survey results and present on the Cost Sharing Models Task Force’s recommendations. The afternoon concludes with a social reception with the OCLC Board of Trustees, OCLC senior managers and Americas Regional Council Ambassadors.
ALA Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds Committee (an open meeting)
Saturday, January 21, 10:30 am-12:00 pm in room D169
The ALA Committee on Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds (RNTLOAK) reviews issues and challenges facing rural, native and tribal libraries of all kinds, collaborates with ARSL and other ALA units addressing the needs of rural communities and serves as an advocate for and partner with libraries serving rural, tribal and native populations. All are invited to join this open committee meeting to discuss current initiatives and ongoing activities. There are opportunities for non-committee members to become involved in working groups and your input is encouraged and welcomed!
The Power of Cooperation at Webscale: OCLC’s Strategy for Public Libraries
Saturday, January 21, 10:30 am-12:00 pm in room C155
What is Webscale and how can it help public libraries? If you interested in finding out how OCLC is working with libraries to create a shared future through the power of Webscale and OCLC’s WorldShare services, which include the OCLC WorldShare Platform that facilitates app-sharing, data sharing and collaboration across the library community, please join us for this session.
Cathy de Rosa, OCLC Vice President, will discuss our future strategy and how it relates to what is important to public libraries. You will learn how OCLC’s WorldShare strategy can help your library to be more efficient so that your staff can spend more time serving your community. At the session, you will also receive a copy of OCLC’s latest report, Libraries at Webscale.
Update on the Edge Initiative
Saturday, January 21, 1:30-3:30 pm in room A130/131
Join the Edge coalition for an update on the development of public access technology benchmarks that will help you strengthen the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of public access technology services in your libraries.
The Edge update will take place on Saturday, January 21, 2012 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Dallas Convention Center, Room A130/131. This forum will provide an overview of Edge, share early feedback from the field, and provide opportunities to give input on the beta benchmarks (the first version which will be pilot tested in the coming months) and the tools libraries will need to utilize the benchmarks.
OCLC Update Breakfast
Sunday, January 22, 7:00–8:00 am
Omni Dallas Hotel, Dallas Ballroom EFG
Join OCLC and members for breakfast and an update on OCLC activities from Jay Jordan, President and CEO. Then, share roundtable conversation with colleagues who share your interests, hosted by OCLC staff.
Small But Powerful Forum
Sunday, January 22, 1:30-3:30 pm in room A308
Join rural library leaders in a conversation about advocacy, leadership and the newly revised “Small But Powerful Guide to Winning Big Support for Your Rural Library,” at a special forum during the 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting. Sponsored by the ALA Committee on Rural, Native and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds, the ALA Committee on Library Advocacy and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, the Small but Powerful Forum for Winning Big Support for your Rural Library will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22 in room A308 of the Dallas Convention Center.
The forum promises to be a powerful and practical discussion for those committed to building and sustaining support for rural libraries. To maximize time and takeaways, the session will employ the World Café method of hosting large group dialogue, including presentations from rural library leaders and an opportunity for attendees to break into small group rounds covering a range of specialized rural library advocacy and leadership topics. At the conclusion of the session, attendees will share their insights and lessons learned with the larger group.
Featured presenters will include Jennifer Peterson, chair, ALA Rural, Native and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds Committee; Tina Hager, retired library director (Texas); and Dr. Robert S. Martin, professor emeritus in the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University and PEARL (Promoting & Enhancing the Advancement of Rural Libraries) team member.
The title alone lets you know that this going to be a pretty hip blog post, right? And just look at the pretty logo over there…signs of good things to come! Edge is the name of an exciting initiative that is coming soon to a library near you. Earlier this year, WebJunction joined the Edge initiative, a coalition of 13 organizations working together to compile a set of benchmarks for public access computing in libraries (check out the press release). The intent of these benchmarks is to help ensure that all communities continue to have quality computer and Internet access at public libraries. One thing is clear about this work—it’s no small task! Public access computing is such a core resource in libraries, but the needs of the individual libraries and their respective communities vary greatly (queue the dramatic, challenging music).
I am sure this is a bit of preaching to the choir, but high-quality access to technology in public libraries is critical for people to succeed in today’s world. Without access to the information and opportunities that exist online, some people in this country will not be able to do homework, look for employment, obtain health and wellness information or connect with their government, community or civic organizations. Libraries have taken on a critical role in many communities to provide access to these services, but we also know that there is room to improve. Sometimes we need a little help to make our case for the importance of these services, both internally and with stakeholders. That’s where the benchmarks come in.
These benchmarks will be the examples of high quality services and offerings that help to improve the lives of patrons and the communities that libraries serve. We’ve been collecting feedback from coalition members and also working closely with the library field, local decision makers and community leaders to create benchmarks that are relevant, actionable and that can align with local community priorities. The work to date has included hundreds of hours spent pouring through data, reading reports, conducting focus groups and synthesizing all of the information into a usable resource – and we’re not done yet.
The project will soon be launching at pilot sites in several states and will be available for broader public use later in 2012. One of the key elements of participating in the benchmarks is an assessment that a library will complete. In some cases, the assessment results will shine a light on a library that is doing great work and should be recognized. In other cases, a library may be able to use the assessment to acknowledge that there are areas that could use improvements. The benchmarks will also include a wealth of information and resources that can be used to help advocate for public access computing improvements to local funders and decision makers. We’re going to give you the tools to help implement ideas and find out how to make improvements that will have an impact.
Now this is clearly a bit a teaser, because we’re not quite ready to share the actual benchmarks just yet…there’s more cooking going on in the kitchen, and we’re a bunch of picky chefs. But, we’re looking forward to bringing you more details as work on the Edge initiative progresses – stay tuned!