Posted tagged ‘ALA’

SOL: Aside

March 26, 2009

I’ve spent an awful lot of time talking about budget cuts at libraries, so here’s one for a change of pace.  Yesterday the ALA announced a $1.6 million shortfall, $500,000 of which must be cut this fiscal year.

Getting Involved

September 22, 2008

I’m back from a long weekend and a short MLA meeting and it’s time for a sales pitch.

To anyone who has read this site frequently it should come as no surprise that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the professional organizations.  I think my main issue with them is that I have a vague feeling of unfulfilled potential (with the exception of advocacy of course, they are good at that) coming from many of them.  But there’s also the more general concern that they are too geared towards the larger libraries at the expense of everyone else.

The solution is simple, do what you can to make your voice heared, starting with joining your local organization.  I’m still new to this but my short time in the MLA has been one of the more rewarding experiences of my career to date.  It’s a place where a newcomer like me is welcomed completely and where the interests of a mid-size public library like mine can be given equal weight with the concerns of a giant like the BPL.

Finally, a shameless plug.  On October 28th the MLA will be holding a full day program entitled Introduction of Library Digitization.  If you are in the Worcester area I highly recommend attending.  There will be presentations of funding sources, technical considerations, copyright law, and examples of projects from all types of libraries.  I hope to see some of you there next month.

The Rest of Us

September 9, 2008

Sarah Houghton-Jan, one of my favorite library bloggers who I haven’t linked to enough, has just posted a nice analysis of the ALA’s public library funding and technology access study.  The report itself is fairly complementary regarding the state of library technology, but Sarah wisely attacks the disparity reported between the urban and rural libraries.  

I hate to belabor a point, but I do hate when the profession ignores the other half of libraries out there.  If all you knew about libraries came from the literature and from conference presentations you’d think that we’re all cutting edge technology buffs.  But the fact is that all but the most fortunate public libraries have to struggle with their budgets in order to keep their technology only mildly obsolete.  It’s nice to hear someone else speak up and point out the obvious, and to take governments to task for not providing all its citizens with equal resources in this regard.  And that goes for training too.  The less fortunate libraries simply do not have the resources to send staff members off to those conferences and workshops so that they can be up on such things.

The entire profession needs to gain some more awareness of where we really stand, and not just continue to plod along in its current state of wishful thinking.  So once again, thank you Sarah for speaking up.

A Good Issue

August 13, 2008

The new American Libraries is out and I’m pleased to report that I read through an entire issue without getting annoyed by anything, and this was the self-congratulatory conference wrap-up issue.  Either I’m mellowing out or they’re actually getting better.

In all honesty there actually are a few decent, albeit brief articles in this one.  Adam Bennington has one on the value of Wikipedia, that actually includes recomended information literacy lessons using the site.  There’s also a nice article by Scott Nicholson the compares gaming and storytelling activities in libraries, which isn’t the most original idea within the gaming community, but is probably novel in the library context.  Even some of the conference write ups were pretty good, particularly the long summary of Ron Reagan’s opening speech.

Fitchburg Revisited

August 7, 2008

The Worcester Telegram has an update on the fate of the Fitchburg public library, and this time it was picked up by the ALA’s weekly mailing list.  Things have not improved since the last time I checked.  They’re a month into having their hours reduced to 21 a week and neighboring libraries have gone on record saying they will deny service to Fitchburg patrons when the library’s state certification expries in January (as is standard practice in Mass.).

They are planning to begin a massive fund raising campaign shortly, and I wish them the best of luck.

Cory Doctorow comes to ALA

July 24, 2008

The ALA webiste has posted a good sized portion of Cory Doctorow’s privacy talk at ALA on their site.  Go watch it now.

The Lowest Denominator

July 22, 2008

I think the publishing industry has hit a new low.  I have just received the ALA’s newsletter for the recent convention in Anaheim and stumbled across a full page ad for a new series called the Doppleganger Chronicles.  Here’s the blurb:

“this new series combines art and text to create illustra-novellas–a new kind of book designed to enhance the reading experience for a visually oriented generation of kids, especially reluctant readers.”

First of all…an illustra-novella?  how can this not be a joke?  Why do illustrations require a claim to a new format?  Or is this book really a graphic novel but the publisher thought that term sounded too overused (which it is of course in all fairness).

Anyway, my real point here is the apparently new market of books for people who don’t like to read.  This is not the first series pitched this way, the Bluford High books have apparently met with some success by tapping into that market.  But I still have trouble picturing this one.  I can’t help but think of Monty Python’s Silly Olympics sketch (it’s in one of the German episodes) where there’s a 100 meter breaststroke for non-swimmers event (the punch line coming when the corpses are fished out of the pool).

I know I’m being a bit overly cynical here, and I do admire what these books are trying to do.  I’m all for anything that can get more people to read.  I’m just not sure that this is the way to go about it.  Has anyone had any experience with these materials?  I would love to have my suspiciones disproved in this instance.

A few critiques

May 14, 2008

I just finished filling out this year’s ALA membership survey, and I feel the need to vent.  I’ll be upfront and admit that some of my ire is probably borne out of the survey’s poor design.  For one thing the forward and back arrows on each page were on opposite sides of the screen, and not the sides that would make sense (I know that’s nitpicky).  My bigger issue is the bias that was apparent in nearly every question.  Most were of the form, I get a large value out of my ALA membership, agree or disagree.  Oh and there was no space for comments, but hey that’s what the internet was made for after all.

So no, I don’t feel that I get a great deal of value.  The ALA does accomplish a great deal at the macro level within the profession, but for a medium sized library like mine they are largely irrelevant.  The effect I see there is a subscription to a magazine that tends to infuriate me (as readers of this blog must know by now), discounts for attending a conference that I’ll be able to go to the next time it’s in Boston (since it was there 3 years ago this might take awhile), a catalog for an advertising campaign that’s older than I am (and who exactly is the target audience for a Tim Gunn read poster?) and a weekly e-mail that I actually do like (mostly because it aggregates articles from sources besides the ALA).  They could do so much better.

Living in the Past

April 7, 2008

My very first post on this blog was a rant about the inability of libraries to stay current with technology. Now today I received the latest issue of American Libraries, which has a nice little editorial by Joseph Janes entitled “Keeping Up: Can we cope with the pace and breadth of innovation” I’d provide a link but the American Libraries Site via the ALA still shows the prior issue as the current one (as an amusing side note, the ALA’s homepage still has a Johnny Damon read poster where he’s in a Red Sox uniform, just keep refreshing until you see it).

Anyway, my problem with American Libraries is that on the facing page to Janes’ article is a piece on the innovative technology that is The article is fine (besides being titled “Isn’t it”) but it is a little late in coming, and I just hope that the irony of what it is paired with doesn’t pass by everyone in editorial. I’m just glad that I’m not paying for the subsciption out of my own pocket.