What can I say about ALA other than fun, exciting, tiring, and informative! The first day of the conference I was overwhelmed by all the people, and the exhibit hall which had vendors giving out tons of information about how their services would be benefit the library, and it was great that they gave away lots of free stuff! You can’t go wrong with free! In addition, I met a host of librarians from all over the nation, even one that worked for the Library of Congress. He told me that most people who work for the Library of Congress don’t leave until they are old, but I wasn’t expecting him to tell me that he had two colleagues that were approaching their 86th birthday! I mean I love what I do, but still working at 86 years old? You are absolutely dedicated to your job!
In addition to the exhibits, I also enjoyed the different presenters; one in particular just happened to be Hillary Clinton, who gave a good message about how to bounce back from defeat, and how it is important to keep hold to our values and beliefs. Hillary referred back to how the library has always played an intricate part in her life, she said “After this election one of the things that helped me most—aside from long walks in the woods and the occasional glass of chardonnay—was, once again, going back to the familiar experience of losing myself in books.” I may not agree with all of Hilary’s decisions in regards to the laws that she helped to implement or support, but her message by empowering women, advocating for books with children of color, and encouraging law makers to not cut funds for libraries across the nation was very impactful.
I had the opportunity to attend several sessions, and some included “Social justice in libraries: social work roots and the progressive library mission,” “Digital Inclusion Corps Pilot Update: Building Sustainable Inclusion Models Nationwide,” “ProQuest Books WSU Session,” and “Agents of Change.” I enjoyed the session “Digital Inclusion Corps Pilot Update: Building Sustainable Inclusion Models Nationwide,” because it really touched base with how we can make technology more accessible to our students. One of the suggestions was to allow students to check out laptops and hotspots, especially for those that are nontraditional students, so that they will have internet access right from home. Another session I enjoyed was the “Agents of Change,” which was a documentary about events at San Francisco State in 1968 involving black students with guns emerging from the takeover of the student union, and at Cornell University in April, 1969, the struggle for a more relevant and meaningful education. The purpose of the takeover on both campuses was to demand for black and ethnic studies programs, which became a clarion call across the country in the late 1960’s. Through the stories of these young men and women who were at the forefront of these efforts, “Agents of Change” examines the untold story of the racial conditions on college campuses and in the country that led to these protests.
Each session and vendor that I had a chance to meet was very insightful. I would recommend any librarian or library professional to attend ALA, because there is something new and exciting for all walks of life. I look forward to sharing the ideas that I learned with my colleagues, and hope to implement great programs in the future for our faculty, students, and community.
Author: Sharnette Evans