ALA Round-Up

by Colette Hayes

giada and me

Giada and me. I had her sign a book for my sister, a big fan.

I’ve just returned from Chicago, and my first ALA conference. So as not to forget, here’s a round-up of just some of the key points that I took away from the conference, and my trip:

– I’ve never been to a Giant’s victory parade, but I’ve now been to a Chicago Blackhawks one. Fans, anywhere, are so fun.

– Opening keynote speaker and author of Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt, told us that he failed the AP Calculus exam in high school. Perhaps one of the most famous economists in the US right now got a 2 on the AP Calculus exam.   Failure is a funny thing, no?

– McCormick Place is massive, ALA is huge, but so many of the librarians walking around looked…familiar. And not because they fit any sort of stereotype. I genuinely believed I knew many of them.

– I loved the poster sessions, especially the one that calculated the ROI of Reserves.  No surprise: Students want/need expanded reserves services in the worst way.

– Cory Doctorow: “taking something apart can be an empowering act.”  Many years of close reading have taught me this. I now see how taking apart physical objects, like electronics, is similar.

– From another program: collect autoethnographies from faculty researchers. No survey or interview or the like will capture how and what they do, and how we as librarians can help.  It’s waaaaay more complicated and idiosyncratic than that.

– Temple Grandin, paraphrased: The worst thing you can do is nothing…We need to get out of our silos and work together.

-Giada De Laurentiis, when asked how to encourage anti-cooks and teenagers to like cooking, paraphrased: If they can’t pop popcorn, pop it for them. Teach them to assemble dishes first.  You have to make it simple and easy for them. People are intimidated by what they perceive they don’t know.

–  Ben Bizzle, head of IT at Jonesboro Public Library, paraphrased: If you’re offering something for free, and people are still paying for it somewhere else, you’re doing it wrong…Creativity requires a thick skin. Protecting someone’s (or your own) ego instead of going with a better idea is wrong…Push the envelope just enough.

– Info lit. Financial lit. Health lit. “Fusion of topics breeds excitement.” Naperville Public Library.

– Alice Walker, word for word: “Women of the world, is this devastation part of us?… Resuscitate the mothership.”  

– Jane Addams was deemed by the US government as one of the most dangerous women in America, for her anti-war activism and for exposing the plight of poor immigrants and workers in the US. (Refer to Walker quote above.)

– The Chicago Cultural Center is amazing (I wonder how they work it out with CPL?), and I hope this comes to SF:

There’s so much more…but I have to go attend to some cataloging and archives and manuscripts homework. Ciao.