ALA 2013

This is Circulating Ideas. I’m Steve Thomas. This very special episode was recorded at the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago in the summer of 2013. I spoke with a large, diverse group of librarians, some of whom have been on this show in the past. But I asked them all about their conference experience and how it enriches their professional lives, and some them gave some updates on some personal projects they’ve got going on. Making this episode even more special, are some songs written specifically for the conference by librarian and songwriter Julie Jurgens. You can find her on Twitter @himissjulie. Hope you enjoy.

The first council session with some councilors, Lauren Pressley and Bobbi Newman, I’ll probably talk just some people here in a minute. How’s your conference going, Bobbi?

[Bobbi] It’s been going really great, I got in Thursday, I came on the train, it’s really nice to be close to Chicago and had a really great session yesterday morning where Susan Crawford spoke at the Washington Office Updates about some of the initiatives that libraries are working with, and the digital divide, which as you know is a personal pet project of mine and she, Susan was in talking to us about the telecom industry and how that is developing and so if you’re not familiar with that, I won’t spend a lot of time on it. It sort of, we’ve got some companies that sort of have a monopoly on our broadband and the US is paying much higher prices for much slower speed than considerable proportion of the rest of the world and unless we start speaking up and doing something about that, that is not going to change and of course the people who are, who are receiving the worst end of that are, are the people you would expect, the people, the lower socio or economic status, rural areas, and that kind of thing and of course libraries are a hub in the community so their end for internet connection for most of those people. Again, even us we’re not getting the connection speeds, you know that up to 10 megabytes per second, or something, is sort of a loophole for the company and really they’re, they’re making a record profits, they should be doing better by.

Well, and it seems like a lot of people used the whole, well everybody has cellphones excuse now, and that’s really not the same thing. Even if your phone is a smartphone even, that’s not the same thing.

[Bobbi] Right, yeah broad, 3G is no comparison to broadband access, which is a gigabyte access, you know, I mean really 3G, we’ve all got our 3G phones and you just cannot do the things on a phone that you could do with a computer and with internet access. You know it frustrates me just to know when that gets listed as an alternative to real broadband access.

Lauren, how is your conference going?

[Lauren] Yeah it’s been going very well. I am here in three capacities for the LITA board of directors council and also I’m on Barbara’s Stripling’s advisory committee for her presidency so it’s been a lot of governance work thus far.

But that’s fun and, you know, a nice way to contribute to the association. So LITA’s doing some good stuff, we have some very exciting programming, it’s actually happening today, council had an unusually full slate, things to discuss and we got through about half of it this morning, so that was exciting and quick moving at the lake and Barbara’s really kicking off her presidency right after this conference, so she’s unveiling the Declaration for the Right to Libraries which we’re hoping will be a good vehicle for community discussion around the value of library, all different types of libraries. And a tool for libraries to sort of get out there and talk about it a little bit more.

So what exactly are you doing with Barbara? Just sort of in a general advisory capacity, or?

[Lauren] Yeah, so ALA Presidents have advisory committees around them that help, essentially I’ve kind of been beginning to understand that to be sort of like an on committees meeting, where like the chairs of the different groups, so like my part is largely about outreach to emerging leaders and people who are maybe nearer to the profession and trying to get them involved with what she’s doing. But other people take on specific things, so she’s going to have webinars around, transformative sort of topics and have the scroll project and some other things, so yeah. A group of people sort of all, all trying to support what it is she’s doing and make sure that she’s able to have the impact cause a year flies by, so one person can’t do that alone, so.

Well I’m sure with her background there will be a lot of focus on school libraries, as well, so.

This is all of our hope cause we know that that’s really needed right now and she is certainly well positioned to speak eloquently about that.

And then transition over to Courtney for next year.

Yeah, exactly. As well as, really I think been really impressive with the last several presidents is this sense of continuity instead of this is my year and now I’m done. Like this idea of how do we maintain. So I know Barbara’s been working with Maureen about how to keep some of her stuff going and I’m sure that that will happen too with Courtney, so it’s a nice sort of, more of a partnership rather than a bunch of solos everywhere.

Right, right, Well I know you personally moved to a new job recently, can you tell me about your new job ‘cause last time you were on this show you were still at Lake Forest, so now, and can you tell me about your new job?

Yeah absolutely. I’m at Virginia Tech. So Virginia Tech is a large state and grant research run, very different from the small rural liberal arts college. Both have been amazing, just in very different ways, and my new job I’m particularly excited about because we’re really looking at redefining this library in sort of a fundamental way and the unit I’m on, I work very closely with Brian Matthews and we’re look, working in the learning and outreach capacity. So we’re looking at new literacies and new pedagogies and trying to figure out how, how the library can meet needs that exist on campus, that haven’t been noted by other people in the past.

All right, well thank you, Lauren.

Yeah, thank you.


I’m here with Brett Bonfield. Brett, how’s your conference going?

It’s a great conference, I’m really enjoying it.

Have you gone to a lot of good sessions so far?

I haven’t had a chance to attend too many sessions. The sessions I’ve gone to were pretty good.

Anything in particular you’re looking forward to, or?

Yeah, I, I really like what the digital content marketing group is doing, so I’ve been going to as many sessions of theirs as possible. Both the general programming and then their individual meetings and subgroup meetings and I’m just really really impressed with them.

And I saw you this morning in the council meeting, I know you’re not on council, we talked about that earlier, but is there a reason that you like to go to the meetings? To, that, why do you go to the meetings if you’re not on council?

I think it’s a great microcosm of ALA and I think even of our profession as a whole. I think both the successes and the structural frustrations that are part of council are fascinating and useful in terms of learning how to be a better librarian.

Right. Anything new happening in your job? Or with your degree, are you still working on your degree?

Still working on my degree, yeah. I took this semester off, which was a good decision, but I feel revitalized and so I’m eager to get back to that. I meet with my adviser here because [laughs] he, we both attend ALA and it’s kind of fun to meet in Seattle, or meet in Chicago and in terms of my job, yeah. We just signed on with 3M and I am eager to present an alternative to Overdrive to my neighbors in Collinswood and we’re also an Overdrive library. Again tying into the digital content working group, I think that that’s one of the most important things we can be doing in public libraries is, is making the transition to digital content as easy as possible for the people we serve.

Right. Alright, anything else you’re looking forward to besides the LITA staff at the rest of the conference?

I think that’s really the big thing, I’m excited about the afternoon with LITA, I’m sure he’ll be talking in plenty of people during after and I think it’s going to be a really great afternoon.

Yeah I’m going to talk to my fellow Kickstarter librarian Jason Griffey in a little bit, so.

I, I’m sure he was inspired by what you achieved with your Kickstarter campaign and yeah, I’ve got my LibraryBox button that I’m planning to don for the afternoon with LITA so yeah I think that’s going to be a great conversation, I can’t wait to listen to it when I’m home.

All right, thanks a lot, Brett.

All right, thanks, Steve.


All right, still here at the ALA annual conference in Chicago and I’m sitting here with Troy Swanson. Troy, how is your conference going?

The conference is going great, I always get charged up when I come to annual. See so many people that I know and kind of re-energize in the field. A couple of things that I think are going to stick in my mind. First off I’m on the Information Literacy Competencies task force, rewriting the standards, so maybe it’s more than just say, sticking my mind, they’re gonna, we’re gonna, we have a lot of work to do this next year, but it’s, it’s very exciting and I’m, the people that are on this committee, I feel a little out of my league. There’s some really great people that are thinking deeply about what information literacy is and how we evolve. The existing standards, which have been really important, but how do we take these next steps and I think the other thing that I’m playing around with is the, the connections I’m seeing between the ideas of maker space, the ideas of games, the ideas of connecting the community, this kind of library as experiential place and that you know we do a lot in our library of public programming and trying to find ways that, on our, I’m at a community college campus, how we can pull students out of the classroom and bring them together at other classes and make the kind of unique learning environment happen that you wouldn’t necessarily get by just sitting in the classroom and I’m loving the idea of this experiential kind of existence and we’re trying to think of ways that our library can step forward into that, so definitely a great connections I’m seeing there.

So, you were talking a little bit earlier to me, over lunch, about the zombie program your school’s going to be doing. Can you talk about just that program in general and how the library’s going to be involved with that?

Yeah, absolutely. I’m, yeah, this is an example where I’m thinking oh experiential learning, I’m going to need to attach the term to this project that we’re working on. This is a, for this fall we’re going to be doing a zombie apocalypse game on our campus. Our IT department has set up a website that we will use our student log-ins to track a zombie outbreak on campus and at the same time we’ll have an antidote which is going to be a puzzle for students to figure out. So we’re gonna to see if we can spread the camp, the virus across 4,000 players and then see if we can spread the antidote back, so make everyone a zombie and then cure everybody and it’s, it will be online and then we’re going to do a, a lecture about zombie maths to try to really explain how mathematicians and virologists and epidemiologists would look at this outbreak and then we’re encouraging faculty members to build assignments around it. So, on our campus I feel like, you know, we’re connected to the curriculum, we’re connected to faculty in a way that puts us in a position to do these kind of projects. A little bit different than what our student activities would do, so it’s, it’s a kind of out-of-class project that’s still curricular and still learning based, so. Yeah it’s very exciting and now I know I can call it experiential learning, so.

Right. You were also talking about when you were in, and you showed up on Friday and that you kind of just camped yourself out at the food court and had your own little pre-conference. Can you talk about what you did there? And who you talked to for the?

Yeah, well it kind of happened on accident because I’m also a Blackhawks fan and I, I’d played with the idea of walking down to Grant Park for the, the Blackhawks celebration, and I think my professional obligations kept me on the straight and narrow path, so thank you ALA for that. Basically I sat in the food court and was just texting with people and saying hey, I’m here in, over about four or five hours, six hours as I was waiting for the opening session, I just hung out and talked to people, which was, which was great and you know it was, some of it was just reconnecting with folks that worked in our library, who I had had worked for in the past. Interesting conversations around managing this idea of straddling print and digital and I think a lot of us are still dealing with that and how do we do that. Also, we’re having conversations at our campus around the, the learning commons and how do we connect with, you know, other support services on campus and really good conversations about, about thinking about that shared vision and how do you work with like your tutoring center, writing center, to create a shared space and have everyone kind of see where that space goes. More than just getting someone an office in your library, but actual real collaboration which I thought was excellent and you know, so it’s always good to hear about where things are around the country, learn a little bit about Texas and Texas public libraries and I won’t go into all of that but it was, it’s just good to, to reconnect and I’m, it’s my own Troy un-conference. Kind of on accident.

Are you getting to see a lot of people that you knew that you don’t get to see very often? Like sort of, that you went to school with or anything like that? That have been going around the country?

Yeah, tons of people and people that, you know, it’s, such as yourself too, where people that you see all the time on Twitter and Facebook, that now you can actually see in flesh and blood, which is, which is always nice and people that it takes a second to recognize, wait, I know you, we talk all the time online. You don’t quite look like the picture you have posted on Twitter.

Ah yes, I see a tiny picture of you a lot.

Right [laughs] right, and you know, I also spent some time working with the community college section and you know, community college is where we set challenges in just support and the ability to come to conference and so when I’m here, I always try to participate as much as I can in the ACRL community college section activities, just because it is important, community college’s educate a, you know, a huge majority of the, of the undergrads in the United States, but we’re not very well represented in ACRL, I say that delicately, we are represented people and are involved, but, the numbers just aren’t there for many reasons and then, and I always like us to, to make sure we have that voice and that involvement and so it’s, it’s really important.

Well do you have any other sessions that you have already gone to, or that you’re looking forward to for the rest of the conference?

I’m looking forward to, I’m looking forward to Dan Cohen this afternoon for Digital Public Library of America and catching up a little on what ACRL’s doing with the valley of academic libraries. I think that whole project is, is really important and thinking about assessment in important ways, so that’s probably what’s left of my day today. And then I’m not sure what’s on the agenda tomorrow.

All right, well, Troy, hope you have a great conference and that everything else goes great for you.

Thanks for chatting and thanks for all your work on the podcast, it’s great.

You’re welcome. Thanks, bye.


[music song clip plays]


Okay, so we are here still at the ALA conference in Chicago and I am talking to Kate Kosturski. Did I pronounce that right?

Yes, you did, thank you.

And first of all I wanted to ask Kate, before I ask about your general conference, we are right now you are doing your Craft Con. Can you tell me about that and how you started that? If you’re the one that started that, and if you are, what it is?

Okay. So in terms of the ALA portion, yes I was one of the co-founders. My co-founders Jo Allcock who is over in the UK. The idea is lovingly borrowed from the ASIST, the American Society for Information and Science Technology and I know everybody’s probably shaking their fists at the computer right now, saying no they just changed their name. I don’t remember the new one. It was, I discovered it at that, the 2009 meeting in Vancouver. Like we have divisions within ALA, ASIST has six special interest groups and jokingly one of them was called Seg Knits. They just hung out in the back of the bar at the Hyatt and they knit and I thought to myself this is great idea! It’s a wonderful way for people to recharge their batteries in between going to sessions, to talk to people, meet fellow librarians and just have fun.

And it’s just about doing your whatever you do, whatever you consider crafting, I mean knit, most people look like they’re knitting around here, but they can do whatever you want.

Yes, it does tend to be very knitter heavy, but I always tell people we’re like the Hard Rock Cafe, we love all, we serve all. We’ve had crocheters, we’ve had embroiders, we’ve had quilters, cross-stitch, in fact the first year we did the Craft Con, Jo Allcock brought over mini cross-stitch kits from the UK. We’ve had someone who does tatting, which is like, it’s sewing, it’s sort of ruffles, it’s decorative ruffles, but any, everybody is welcome. I don’t care, you come, I don’t care what craft you do, show up and have fun if you’re interested learning, I just started doing little demos on where you can find resources either to start a craft program in your library, or if you want to teach yourself how to craft.

So you’re still being a librarian, even in these little sessions you’re teaching and.

I’m doing the best I can with teaching. This was just something, people have asked me oh I don’t know, I want to come but I don’t craft, and I thought, as I thought about it on my way to Chicago I said you can do some quick little sessions on where people can go to find resources. In terms of crafting, there’s so many, so much good stuff online. Craftsee is a great example where you can have paid classes in not just knitting, but crochet, cake decorating, gardening etc. And then I go off and do some knitting resources demos, so there’s ways you can, I did sort of my own story of how I learned to craft, and how you can find a craft community online, which I live, I live in the New York metro area so I’ve got the world at my feet. Not everybody does, so you need to find that connection elsewhere.

So, how is your conference going in general?

I’m so glad the weather’s not hot any more. The first two days here I was melting and I, my parents live in the South and I have been in Florida when it’s in the middle of summer and this, this is worse. But in terms of the conference layout, I’m very impressed, things are a lot easier to find. The uncommons, for example, was in this corner somewhere up on the top of the convention center in Seattle and nobody could find it. But with this layout in McCormick, it’s, it’s so much better, everything is very centrally located and since this is the first year that the conference has really tried to have one central location, it’s really worked in their favor.

Yeah, I think so, it works a lot better when you’re having to go from hotel to hotel to hotel to hotel, and.

I mean, oh my word yes. Especially since, for those who aren’t familiar with the layout of Chicago, this is, unlike other conferences you can’t walk to all your conference hotels, there’s a Hyatt connected to McCormick Place. Everything else requires a shuttle bus, or if you’re lucky and you’re very comfortable with the public transportation in Chicago, public transportation.

Is there any session in particular you’ve gone to so far that you’ve been super impressed with?

Well this one I went to last minute, John Chrastka, and forgive me if I’m pronouncing your name incorrectly, John, did, who is the head of EveryLibrary, the nation’s first and thus far only super PAC for libraries did an advocacy 101 session. I went to that at the last minute, I mean you don’t have to sell me on advocating for your library. But I learned a lot about where how I can help other people be an advocate for their libraries and work with their elected officials to make it, to get what they want for their library. And it brought back memories of me working on political campaigns when I was a teenager. I was giving them tips like you need to do this, this and this and maybe you ought to call your high school kids to come put stuff on doors. A lot of the other sessions I’ve been going to have been related to my job, so it’s more, I’m looking at them more of not as a self-interest, but as a I need to take notes on this so I can take it back to the people I work with and in, educate and enlighten them. But I can tell ya that one of the best sessions is coming up.

And what is that?

That would be Battledecks! Battledecks is “Whose Line Is It Anyway? meets Powerpoint.” You’re given a set of slides, you don’t know what they are. They could be serious, they could be silly and you have to make a presentation on them. You’ve never seen them before. This year the Battledecks competition is a little different. We’re going to have a tournament of champions versus a newbs tournament. It’s going to be a lot of fun, I’m actually one of the judges.

I was about to say how are you involved with that.

I am the judge, I’ve done timekeeping in the past, I co-hosted the ACRL Battledecks, con, Battledecks competition as well. So I’m excited to be a judge and I’ve been telling all the competitors if you want my vote, my birthday is on Friday, I want birthday presents.

And have you been meeting a lot of great people that you know only online? I know the two that we just met for the first time on Friday, and in person, have you met a lot of people from Twitter and?

Yeah, it’s like Librarian summer camp, these are the friends you may only see once a year, but I’ve, but I’ve been running into people that I see at every single conference. I’ve been running into people that I’ve only known online. I’ve run into classmates that I haven’t seen since I finished library school 2010 because we’ve all gone our own separate ways. So it is like one big summer camp family reunion.

And anything else you’re looking forward to in particular? I know Battle Decks is your big thing, but.

Besides going home and sleeping and detoxing? Well I’m looking forward to the Carnegie Awards. The Carnegie Awards are ALA’s answer to the Pulitzer, it is the award that was inaugurated last year, given to the best adult fiction and nonfiction book and those awards are being given out this evening. And I, I call it the ALA’s answer to the Pulitzer because in the year it was first developed, it was the year that the Pulitzer didn’t give any awards.


So they were, that was, it was almost like our response, and I’m, that’s going to be at the, one of the hotels later on. I’m really excited, it’s a dessert reception afterwards and possibly free books.

Well, that’s great. So Kate, thank you so much for sharing your conference experience with me.

Thank you.

Talk to you later.



Hey this is Lisa Rabey, I’m an Assistant Librarian at Grand Rapids Community College. You may also know me as @pnkrcklibrarian on Twitter. One of the one reasons why I really love coming to ALA is that not only do I get to meet a lot of amazing people, but I also get to interact with them on a lot of different levels I normally wouldn’t interact with. Such as having a lovely dinner with them and getting to know them. I also really like coming to ALA because it gives me a chance to expand my worldview in terms of librarianship. I get to meet and see things that I normally wouldn’t see in my everyday life. Comic books, that we need to have more sessions about comic books that are not held in the dungeons of the conference center, they need to be brought more to the forefront. And we need to start talking about using comic books in a lot of different ways for information literacy being the major one. And not treated still as like some kind of teen throwaway, just to fill our stacks.

Hi I’m Aiyana Gains, I’m an Associate Librarian at Ventura College in Ventura, California. I wear very many hats, from reference to instruction to inter-library loan to talking to vendors and the reason I enjoy ALA is because I get to put a face and a voice to the Twitter handles that I interact with on a regular basis. I get to run into old friends, because I’ve been going to conferences for a long time, so I’ve accumulated a lot of different friends from a lot of different places, so it’s a chance to see them again.

I get my batteries recharged. I get new ideas, I get a chance to sort of revitalize myself. I get a chance to sort of say oh hey, why haven’t, why am I not doing that, or oh I’m on the right track, so it’s a really good idea to sort of validate what I’m doing as a librarian and as a professional, so I think it’s a really good thing to do, I love going to ALA, so definitely look forward to it. Sessions that I’ve found interesting. I would say the one on, the one on comic books was really awesome, it was really cool to hear the creators talk and their enthusiasm was great. I love talking to people who do something that they love because it reminds me of why I do something that I love. So, just hearing that was great. The do what you love session was cool because I think, again, having that enthusiasm for something is vital. Seeing people going to position and have their souls deadened because they’re doing it because they think they should do it, or they think it’s because they’re going to get money for it is the most heart-wrenching thing ever. So seeing people do something that excites them is really awesome, so. I’d say those are maybe the two best sessions I’ve been to, so.

My name is Kristin LaLonde and I’m an Access Services Librarian at the Chippewa River District Library in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. I’m also on Twitter @shinyinfo. My favorite thing about coming to ALA is to hear about all the different projects that people are currently working on. I do like seeing them talk about them in the panels and poster sessions, but I do love hearing about them from the people directly at all the networking events because usually they get a better chance to really explain to you exactly what they’re doing and everyone’s so excited to talk to you about what they’re working on and it’s really great.

Hi, my name’s Steve Teeri, I work at the Detroit Public Library’s HYPE Teen Center. You may know me as @telephase on Twitter. I like coming to ALA because I get to see old friends who I’ve know for a while and meet new ones from the internet and know they’re not just some man in his basement pretending to be a librarian. I like to see all the librarian people in force and the small city of librarians and know it’s not just me and my small department with a couple of other people doing the work we do. And it’s also nice to sit in my hotel room in the darkness at times and close out [laughs] all sensory input. But then I love to go back and see my teens at my teens center when I’m done and what they’ve done, what they’ve created when I’ve been gone. Even though sometimes they’ve circulated stories that I’ve gone to Mexico and I’m not coming back, but there’s nothing quite like ALA Annual and it’s a, always a great experience that recharges my inspiration for the rest of the year. Thank you. I really like the Do What You Love session by @himissjulie and @papersquared and @booksandyarn on Twitter and it’s nice to hear other people talking about doing what you love and making work not a slog.

Hi, I’m Tasha Burkson-Michaelson and I’m Google’s Search Educator. I just started tweeting at my newly mandated @Iteachawesome on Twitter. So, the reason I teach awesome is because I have so many extraordinary colleagues and I’m so deeply, deeply grateful for a chance to get together and sit over a meal and talk for hours on end about things that no-one at home really wants to talk to me about. But when we’re an hour eight on visual literacy, we reach this kind of enlightened state. Mostly I’m really grateful that when people come to conferences like ALA, my colleagues are willing to actually dare to attract, to attack really hard problems. And think about how we can approach.

There’s a wonderful edge of radicalism in many different things that we do here and I became a librarian because a friend of mine, who I, who is here at a local academic librarian, I saw for the first time in 10 years. She took me for a drive when I was in grad school and she was in library school and talked about how the Oregon librarians had helped get Prop 9 voted down in the state when it was, when the state tried to, when Oregon tried to make it illegal to be homosexual and made it illegal for public libraries, wanted to make it illegal for public libraries to have books by any gay authors. And the librarians took to the street, streets and that’s when I knew I had to be part of this profession, so to gather with people who have so many, many ways of interacting with the world around us and trying so hard to do what’s right is inspiring. So, thank you to all of you for the gift you give me every day of this profession. And so, best session was actually I went to a meeting on civic engagement and how libraries can get involved in civic education and another on news literacy and I loved to see us again thinking innovatively about how we can be agents of change in our world.


All right, we’re here at the ALA Annual conference. Now I’m talking with Jason Griffey. Jason, how is your conference going?

It’s been, it’s been pretty great so far.

What kind of sessions are you, are you mostly LITA stuff while you’re here?

Yeah, I’ve kind of had two hats. One hat this particular conference has been LITA things and events and meetings and then the other has been helping out with a variety of makerspace panels, presentations and pre-conferences.

Yeah I heard there was one early, earlier this morning that was well, well, well attended and.

Yes. Yeah, yeah, we had the, I was part of a pre-conference on Thursday that was a full day pre-conference at the Chicago Public Library. That ended up being really awesome to get librarians kind of out of the convention center and into a library and see the actual space and that sort of thing. And then, yeah this morning I was on a panel, this Sunday morning I was on a panel, again with maker spaces and talking to librarians about how they can implement them.

Yeah, well one of the things that came out of that that you tweet, that I’ve heard from other people too that I think is a good unifying thing for the librarians who are sort of resistant against makerspaces and the people who are super-excited about it, was the comment that you said that story times are maker spaces. That libraries have really been makerspaces for a long time, it’s just been non-techy. And I heard another, Julie Jurgens was talking about, she’s a children’s librarian, was talking about, you know, I’ve been making stuff with Popsicle sticks and cotton, that’s a makerspace, just a non-techy kind, so.

Yeah, yeah, it absolutely is, that, that quote, I’ll attribute that appropriately so that was Brad Jones from Skokie Library said that and I thought it was really a brilliant encapsulation of how libraries are about creation and always have been. Crafts totally count, fabric craft, Popsicle craft, that’s totally making.

Yeah well have you had a favorite session that you’ve attended? Have you been able to attend anything that you haven’t had to present at yet?

Yeah, I actually, I attended exactly one thing that, that I haven’t been some part of yet and that was the science fiction author panel that the Imagineering Interest group from LITA puts on every year and this year they had such an totally knock-out group of authors that I had to go. And it was Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi and Brandon Sanderson and Elizabeth Bear and David Brin and

Timothy Zahn.

Timothy Zahn. So that, that was just, that was really a fanboy moment for me, so that was really great, I was really pleased to be able to do that. That was by far my favorite.

Yeah, I haven’t had for a really long time I haven’t had a Star Wars sort of squee moment because of everything horrible that’s happened with that franchise for a long time, but I was like Timothy Zahn, he did some, he was like the last person to do something great with that. That was like 20 years ago.

Yeah, absolutely. But that whole group of authors, David Brin and his futurism and Timothy with, with the, with the Star Wars Thrawn trilogy and then Corey and Brian and Scalzi as kind of the new wave of sci-fi, just it was, it was great.

Yeah Scalzi I think is my new current favorite author, so.

Yeah, yeah, he’s really awesome.

So is there anything else you’re looking forward to in the conference coming up in the next couple of days?

Oh, that’s a good question, I mean the, the event that we’re about to go into right now, I think, the LITA President’s program with Cory Doctorow, he talks at the, at the sci-fi authors panel but it was very short. I’m looking forward to seeing what he says on a bit of a longer timeframe.

All right, well thanks a lot, Jason, and have a great conference.

Thanks, Steve.


I’m Kristi Chadwick, Director of the Emily Williston Memorial Library in East Hampton, Mass and this is my first ALA and I have to say it’s been pretty incredible. I’ve been enjoying myself, I’ve met a lot of Twitter friends. You can find me on Twitter @booksnyarn. That’s an “n”, not an and or an ampersand. So, yeah, it’s been really kind of overwhelming and I’ve had two presentations, which is kind of how I got myself roped into ALA for the first time and I did one on Saturday morning with Kelly Jensen and Liz Burns on Advanced Reading Copies and we also had reps from Random House and from Little Brown there and it was a really good discussion. We had lots of technical difficulties during it, we actually had some pretty pictures and statistics to show but we didn’t get to show those because everybody could get intranet except for the actual computer we were showing stuff off of. But, otherwise it went pretty good. We asked some interesting information from the publishers and definitely my whole focus was on the digital arcs and how they’re growing and publishers seem to agree that really digital is the way that they’re starting to go because print arcs, they can be expensive and it’s definitely something that they want to see a little bit more of and with the library reads project, that just got announced to ALA which I’m part of the social media committee, so I’m definitely going to be touting that, that will actually play in, especially with Edelweiss because they’ll be the kind of the person, the group that’s doing the whole arcs and the voting for library reads and you can check out for that. In the afternoon I was with Julie Jergins and Caroline Chesler doing Do What You Love and I have to say that this particular session was very inspiring. I don’t think it was just for the audience, it was for those of use who were presenting ourselves because the audience really participated and we got them on Twitter with a hashtag which was our room numbers so if you look for the hashtag 404BC you will see a lot of what librarians find their passion in their library and we shared a lot of that and gave some tips and those slides for anyone who missed it, it was recorded, but it will be up on Slideshare also. Otherwise, you know, the exhibit.

Are there sessions that you attended that you really…?

This morning, it’s Monday, Monday? It’s Monday isn’t it? It is Monday, thank goodness! But, we had the Tumblrians 101 which I’ve been on Tumblr for a little while myself, but it was really interesting to hear from people about what tags you should use, how they’re curated, and how to use them to actually kind of give yourself a boost in there, so there was a lot of people there and following that directly was about new adult and what is it and is it really happening and I think a lot of people agree it is really happening so with Sophie Brookover and Liz Burns and Kelly Jensen talking about that, that really got a lot of librarians talking, especially about VC Andrews, which I love because I started reading her when I was in sixth grade and my principal found me with a copy of My Sweet Audrina and like totally freaked out about it because that’s an adult book and these days, even though she’s been dead for 20 some odd years, she’s actually someone who could be considered the grandmother of new adult. But, it’s nice to hit the end of it, it’s been nice going through. As I said you meet a lot of people that you really only know through social media and online these days so being able to put a physical body to an avatar and a lot of talk on the internet has been really great.

All right, thank you, Kristi.

Thank you.


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Hi, my name is Caroline Ciesla, I’m the Collection Management Librarian at Perry State and I’m @papersquared on the internet. This has been by far the best ALA conference I’ve attended. It was my first time presenting and it was amazing to be supported by a room full of friends and attendees who are interested in what we had to say and who got as excited about the subject as we did. We talked about bringing your passions into your work and how to do that and everyone we hope left our session ready to get into their jobs and bring their passions with them to work and just make their work better. Thanks Steve, this was a great ALA.

Hi, this is Anna Haase Krueger. On Twitters I’m @opinionsbyanna. This is my first ALA conference and one of the most amazing things for me was all the Twitter connections that I have and coming into a conference cold and having this network already pre-built and I went to some great sessions, I really loved some of the conversation starters and yeah overall it was just really a great experience and I can’t wait to start getting on some committees and coming back regularly.

My name is Anna Mickelson aka @helgagrace and this is my second ALA, but this time I haven’t had to present anything, so I’ve felt pretty stress-free and I’ve gotten to do what I wanted to do. So I did a mix of professional sessions and a couple of sessions just for me and then I met a whole bunch of people that I know on the internet, which is kind of the best part, but. So I caught up with people I met before and I met people that I wanted to meet, although I didn’t cross everyone off my list. The best session that I attended for me was about, it was called The New Reference. Instead of, instead of calling it Reference is Dead, or Reference Is Not Dead, or invoking death at all. So it’s called The New Reference and it was about having your professional staff, your librarians be the ones that decide, you know, where the library’s going and taking it out to the community and having them shape that because they’re the professionals and that is why you pay them, you know, more than you pay the frontline staff. So, the, you know, you don’t need to hire professionals to answer the basic computer questions, we need them to bring the library where the library needs to go, so my library in Massachusetts is going through a process like that which I have sometimes resented [laughs] so it helped me come to terms with that a little bit, you know, the reason that we’re doing that and the fact that, you know, I don’t get to determine what my job is. I, you know, I’m, whatever they think we need to do for this city, I should be the one to do it, so. I feel more at peace now and the other lesson I learned is that if I come to ALA in Chicago next time I am, I’m gonna fly, I’m not gonna drive. Although, we will be able to bring back, I don’t know how many bags of books we have, how many bags of books do you think we have Christy? Ten? Ten, at least 10, anyway. So we won’t have that mailing problem this time, but next time I won’t pick up as much stuff, cause I’m going to be flying. Otherwise it’s nice to see everyone, including you, Steve.

Yeah, you got a nice shout out at the new adult.

I did get a shout out, I feel, oh and I got a shout out as a tweet of the day because I said that I had a socialization hangover, which is true, this is a lot of people and I think I need to be quiet for a while.

I think that happens to a lot of librarians.

Well it’s an introvert’s profession and then we’re supposed to, we’re supposed to be talking to people and interacting with people and they’re, the benefit of meeting internet people in real life is that you don’t have to make any small talk with them, you’re already past that phase, because you talk to them everyday and so you can also not talk to them at all and just be in the, in the same.

The same people that do tweeting at the same time.

Right. You can just be in the same proximity and no-one is like you’re so rude, you’re not even talking to me, it doesn’t matter. So, thank you for giving us this opportunity and I’m glad that you, you’re Kickstarter was funded so quickly and we’re think you’re really cool.

Thank you very much. Thank you, Anna. I think you’re all cool too.

My name is Samantha Chada and you can follow me @samchada and I’m the Associate Director of Technology for the Sandusky Library. And what I enjoyed most about the ALA conference here in Chicago was Kristi Chadwick’s session Do What You Love. Great energy, tonnes of wonderful people, great ideas coming out and it’s really doing what you love. If I had the chance I would have bottled that session, the energy up and taken it home with me in a mason jar. But other than that, just meeting all the great people, connecting, re-connecting with friends and making new friends and seeing what’s out there in all the great innovation that’s coming out from different vendors that are on the floor and then also gathering ideas from other libraries and seeing what we can do and how we can share and collaborate different ideas. So overall, just the collaboration, meeting new people, seeing what’s out there and getting in touch with old friends, that’s what ALA’s all about.

Did you present anything this year?

I did not, I was flying under the radar, so I got to sit back and enjoy which was very, very nice this year.

All right, well, thanks a lot, Sam.

Thank you.


So we are still here at the ALA Annual conference in Chicago and I am talking with Patrick “PC” Sweeney [laughs] and Erica Findlay with EveryLibrary and they’re going to tell me a little bit about what they’ve been doing at the conference for EveryLibrary and then kind of a little bit more about what they’ve been doing in general. Patrick, you want to go first?

[Patrick] Sure. Thanks, Steve. So, yeah at this conference we’ve really been pushing out EveryLibrary and just raising awareness about the organization and what kinds of stuff we’re doing about some of our successes and trying to build some capacity around getting people more involved, finding people who want to volunteer, finding people who just want more information, seeing about connecting with some people to see about other campaigns that are going on that we might want to get involved with. There is a Google doc, Google form going around that I would love for everybody to sign up. It’s just your name and your email and what state you’re from and what kind of library you work for and we just want to get more information about EveryLibrary out to people using stuff like that.

I’ll put a link to that in the show notes, so.

Okay. And then we had a, a great party on Saturday night that was really well attended, in fact people got turned away I guess because the line was too long and we were overcrowded and that was really really great, just to have that kind of support behind us. And then last night we had the Biblio Follies which wasn’t really an EveryLibrary branded event until Paul at the end announced that he was donating the proceeds to EveryLibrary, which was really great. And it was really great to hear when he announced that, the crowd’s reaction to that, which was very cool, which makes me think we’re having an impact which I really, really liked. So that’s what we’ve been doing for EveryLibrary. My own time, I’ve been moderating some night sessions, Battle Decks judging that tonight, judging Library Wardrobe last night, and I did a, a presentation on leadership and what it means to be a rockstar on Saturday and the kind of controversy around that whole term with a great, great panel of people who are in Erica Leadership program with me in California and those are pretty much my big ones. Oh you know, council and meetings and all the not-so-fun stuff. So that was my ALA.

Okay. Erica, what about you?

[Erica] Just like Patrick said it’s been really great just to talk to people one-on-one and also at the party and just see the reaction and awareness EveryLibrary and the interest that’s creating in people. I would add to what he told us about that we had our board meeting on Friday morning and some really great people joined us for that and gave us some wonderful ideas of future directions that we can take, so we have a lot of work to do but we’re really excited. In my time here it’s just been meetings, meetings, meetings, they sort of transition off a lot of my committee involvement and as I get ready to start on council next year.

And so you guys, so you’ll both be on council next year? That’s exciting.

[Patrick] I re-elected myself, I don’t know why.

[laughs] Yeah I know you jumped on the ballot at the last minute and then got right on.

[Patrick] Jumped on me too at the last minute too, right? Yeah, yeah. Aha. Not it’s too much.

It’s too addicting.

[Patrick] Yeah, yeah, no, you know, okay, so I kind of talk a lot of crap about council but I do really enjoy it, seeing the inner workings of ALA, getting involved and just having, you know, some kind of knowledge about how the organization works. You also kind of get bitching rights, which is nice, ‘cause if somebody complains about ALA, you can ask them what they’re doing to change that and usually they don’t have an answer. But being on council, you have that opportunity to make the changes that you want to see in the organization, and just be able to contribute and be well connected with a lot of great, great people too.

And do you guys know how much you raised at your, the party you had?

[Patrick] No I don’t know that. We had, we had Paul’s and our one, we don’t know what the total is.

Okay. And are there any particular campaigns coming up that you guys are working on in particular that you want to talk about? Or is there anything active in the pipeline right now?

[Erica] Well for sure we’re gonna be supporting Hot Springs, Montana soon and I think probably sending out more details about that and we’ve been talking to a few people here about potential things in the pipeline.

[Patrick] And just on that note, setting up and helping these libraries win elections, you know, for every dollar that we have spent, we’ve raised $370 for libraries in ballot measures, but we can’t really do that without your support, so if you go to our website, there’s a button there that says donate. If you can just give $5 or $10, if you give $10, that’s $3,700 is that right? Did I do that math right? Right, that’s right, that’s a lot, that’s a lot. You know, so that kind of support, small numbers help. If you want to help us with a fundraiser, organize a fundraiser on your time and volunteer with us and help us raise money we are an all-volunteer organization. We didn’t even get a booth at ALA because all of our money is going to the, to the campaigns right now. Yeah.

That’s great, that’s great and it’s a great little grass-roots organization to get out and it seems like one of those things that’s a natural thing and it’s, I mean because everybody in theory supports libraries and this is a good way to concentrate that energy among the voter population, to funnel that into actual votes when it actually comes up for funding, so. Alright, well guys, thank you so much for talking to me and we will talk again soon about more EveryLibrary stuff.

[Patrick] All right, thank you.

[Erica] Thank you.

Thank you.


Up next is Paul Signorelli.

Hi, thanks, Paul Signorelli, I’m a writer, trainer, consultant based in San Francisco and I blog at My conference experience has been fabulous. Always when I come here I have a schedule of things I want to see, people that I want to meet up with and usually the schedule gets tossed out the window because I keep running into so many people that are colleagues, running into people that are colleagues, I run into people that I didn’t expect to see, there’s always this wonderful, unexpected moments of being with somebody you know who says oh by the way, did you know and it was exactly the person I wanted to see. Lots of learning going on here, I learn from colleagues, I learn from the professional sessions, I learn from just being in this ambiance and it will take me months after the fact to finish digesting everything that comes out of it. I can’t recommend it more highly to anybody who’s interested in the industry and interested in learning more about the industry.

And were there particular sessions that you went to that you were particularly inspired by this time?

I was so busy with other obligations that I didn’t get to a lot of sessions. The opening one with the person who wrote Freaking Homage was quite engaging, quite interesting. Went to a couple of things on training, teaching and learning, a lot of things actually for the learning round table, where it was colleagues talking about best practices and those were lovely moments.

Great, thanks, Paul, and have a great conference for the rest of the little bit of time that’s left.

Thank you.


I’m here talking with Cory Eckert, here at ALA in Chicago and she’s going to tell us about the Guerrilla Storytime she’s been doing here and the project in general.

Thank you, Steve. So we’re really excited about the guerrilla storytime project which is something that came up on Twitter. A few of us youth services librarians were talking about the fact that we had tried to take pictures of projects that we do and talk to each other about projects that we do and watch YouTube videos but it’s hard to learn new skills without actually being face-to-face and a lot, each of us has a different skill that we’re great at. Some people are amazing at dealing with problematic parents. Some people are amazing at sort of coming up with a way to switch an activity on the fly, or settling down a crazy room of kids, or you know, any of the million weird things that happen in story time. Some people see other librarians using shakers and think oh I don’t know how you would incorporate that, or they read about people using scarves in story time and they can’t even imagine how that would work. And you read about it, but it’s not as useful as being in a room learning from other professional storytellers, how they do it. So we talked about how we really wanted to get together at ALA and learn from each other.

And the other piece of that was that we wanted to do it somewhere public, because adult services librarians, not, I’m sure no-one listening to the podcast right now, but sometimes as a general profession children’s librarians are thought of as like oh they just read with kids and they don’t, they’re not thought of as people who work hard and not that I want to disparage adult services librarians, cause they’re wonderful, but we’re out doing outreach, we’re doing really innovative programming, we’re doing crafting that we’re incorporating and we really look at childhood brain development, we really look at the new research and literacy, we spend a lot of time thinking about behavior modification, there’s a lot of research that goes into how to effectively do a story time, it’s not just read a book out loud to a kid, because if you do the kid will not pay attention to you. So, there’s a huge amount of work that goes into, to story time and story time programs are regularly things that bring in consistent patronage, they’re some, children’s programming is some of the biggest draws for circulation and for program numbers. So we do a lot of work to keep the library relevant to the community and we, we wanted a little bit of attention for it, you know what I mean? We want people to know how hard we work cause we don’t always get seen as being hard a work in the wheel, the library wheel. So, we wanted to do something out in public where people could see us talking to each other about the real nuts and bolts of how you deal with 55 kids at story time and they won’t settle down and parents aren’t paying attention and whatever the issue is, whatever people wanted to learn about. So, we went out and we asked people for challenge questions on Twitter, what do you, what’s a problem that you’ve had that you just didn’t really know how to handle, or you felt like you’d wish you’d handled better and you’d like to see somebody act out how they’d handle it. And then we had originally two sessions and Friday and Saturday and we wrote different challenge questions for them and we brought shakers, and we brought scarves and we brought parachutes and we had people act out how they deal with different things, how they transition from a book to a finger play, how, you know, and then teach us new songs and just bring, so each person brought their own set of professional storytelling skills and taught it to all of us and people had amazing ideas, thing I’ve never thought about. I do story time every week and there’s things that I was like I’m going to use that right now, that’s brilliant, it’s perfect, it’s amazing, we learned a lot of really cool things. Each session was really different from each others and yesterday on, on Sunday, we didn’t have a session and I heard from a lot of people that they got asked why isn’t there a Sunday session, why isn’t there a Sunday session, is guerrilla storytime happening today. So, I thought well, those of use who are still here on Monday, we’ll just do an impromptu, a really guerrilla storytime. So, we did it, as you saw we got a lot of really great feedback and it was a really different flavor from either of the earlier ones and it’s something that we really feel as a community of youth services librarians, who on Twitter the community, the Twitter community of youth services librarians, our little, tiny corner of the internet, feels like we need a resource to talk to each other and learn, learn skills from each other, so we’re talking about maybe starting a YouTube channel, continuing to tweet under guerrilla storytime, just some way that we can kind of get the message out of having a kind of a master class impromptu drop-in and something that’s public that says to the rest of the library community we work our butts off and, and this is a really hard skill that we do and we constantly need to be upping our game at it.

And do you think you’ll continue to do these like pop up sessions at future conferences? Like PLA and another ALA and things like that?

I would absolutely love to do it, yeah when we, we were talking about wanting to do it at ALSC’s symposium, I would love to do it at, I know that Julie Jurgens, @himissjulie was talking about maybe doing something at the Chicago OnCon. There definitely, like any kind of pop up session, the great part about doing it as a pop up session instead of as a session that’s on the conference program is that they stick you in a room and then you’re just back in the echo chamber of all of us saying the same thing to each other over and over again. We still get to learn the amazing skills from each other, but it doesn’t get that piece of other people being able to drop by and suddenly go oh my god. That’s sweaty.

Yeah well there were several people in today’s session, I think that just kind of were wandering by and stopped by and sat down and started participating, so.

Yeah and that’s true. At our earlier sessions there were people using the on conference for business meetings and stuff, I know that the EveryLibrary board was meeting in there during our first one, so people who are pretty high up in the library world were getting to see some really heavy duty storytime skills, which I think is really wonderful. It gets us out of our echo chamber and out of our little children’s library ghetto and out into some bigger. Children’s librarians are amazing and we really are the fuel of community participation in a lot of times. A lot of systems are starting to move towards more adult services outreach and more like trying to do like really creative programming for adult services and I’m really excited about that. But like we have been doing it forever and we really work our butts off to do it really well and we get parents and kids and we change lives, this is, we have these buttons that say storytime guerrilla, but on the back there’s an Easter egg and it say literacy is not a luxury, which is a Bill Clinton quote. I’m gonna give, I’m gonna cite that quote, Bill Clinton said it, I stole it and you know, there’s research shows that zero to three year old early literacy interaction is one of the things that, it’s the only thing that research has shown makes kids more ready for kindergarten. And the research that shows that kids who are more ready for kindergarten are more ready to read at a grade level at third grade and those kids are more likely to graduate from high school and graduating from high school we all know highly, strongly affects what happens with the kids later in life. So the only thing that we know of from research that can change the course of a child’s life, is zero to three early literacy training and public libraries are the only places that give it to everybody for free no matter what. And so we’re, we’re it in terms of potentially changing and saving kids lives, especially in, you know, under-served or lower socioeconomic communities where those parents don’t necessarily have those, you know, those skills and they’re learning them from us and we’re teaching them how to go home and do that storytelling and help. So we are in an extraordinarily important wave point in parent and child lives from, from birth and so any skills that we can give each other, I mean we’re pretty passionate about, it’s not, we are the public institution, the public university for parents learning to kind of be better parents and learning how to raise our kids so that they’re more successful in school and in a lot of communities we’re the only resource for that and that is, it’s not just important, it’s absolutely critical in kid’s lives and in parents lives and so we’re, we really, you know, we’re still feeling pretty passionately that, that we need to get the word out to people who fund us and people who, it’s not ‘cause we like want to be noticed for how great we are, but the more you advocate, the more resources you get and we need the resources because we’re trying to save kids lives.

And I don’t feel like I’m being melodramatic in that, like we’re, we’re, research shows we’re changing and saving kid’s lives and we’re trying to, we need the resources for it. So, the more public we can be about our advocacy, the better, and ALSC does an amazing job, but we’re doing a little bit more underground. Roots, grass roots, out in public, in front of the fake house.

Okay, how can people find more about, find out, you online and what’s the hashtag or something like that for guerrilla storytime so people can find out more about that online?

Sure. So it is, there is gonna be a link on the ALSC blog so that people can kind of find out more about Guerrilla Storytime, I don’t have a blog right now, but you can follow me on Twitter @helenstwin, helen s twin and I’m locked but you can request to follow me and I will, I will okay you unless you’re trying, someone trying to sell their self-pubbed book in which case I probably won’t okay you. Or at least follow you back and, and then the hashtag is Guerrilla Storytime with two r’s and two l’s. I know there’s more than one accepted spelling of gorilla, but that’s how we spell it. #guerrillastorytime, two r’s, 2 l’s and you can also go to Flannel Friday and follow almost anybody who’s involved with it. Mel’s Desk, I don’t, there’s almost, anybody who’s involved with Flannel Friday is probably also involved with Guerrilla Storytime so if you want more information that’s also a really good place to go.

All right, well, thanks a lot, Cory.

Thank you.

Bye bye.



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