Tag: ALA

Program Planning Committee Update

Looking at my archives, I see that it’s been quite a while since I gave you an update on the LITA Program Planning Committee and all the various and sundry things that go along with that.  As I actually have a couple of hours to write this afternoon before I need to shuffle off to the airport, now seemed like a good time to get that done.

In August we chose programs and in September the committee sorted things into time slots. This is far less fun than it sounds.  We have to try and meet the requests of the speakers, not conflict with similar topics or other LITA no-compete times, and still have something during every slot that we’d all like to go to.  We might have moved our committee meeting because of one of the programs that’s happening next summer…..

During the course of the fall there was some contact work that the liaisons needed to do.  I sent a fair number of reminders and when people weren’t speaking up, I sent pointed requests.  Due to work situations, two of my committee members had to excuse themselves from service, so I also need to send emails to my two new committee members this afternoon.

By the way–unless it’s a personal special request, I don’t really control who is on my committee.  When I lost a committee member over the summer, I had a name in mind because of some emails that I’d seen not too long before conference.  I knew said person had filled out the volunteer form and had other committee experience that would benefit my group.  This time around, I sent a request saying I need two more people and Colleen Cuddy made things happen.  I got the names shortly before Midwinter.

This spring, I will be hearing from/working with the VP of LITA–Zoe, to get a couple of people who are rotating off the committee replaced.  I don’t know how much influence I’ll have there either.  I think it’s a good committee to cut your teeth on, though it’s a fair amount of work in the fall.

My committee did not have a formal meeting at Midwinter ALA. I said I’d be in X space at Y time and three of my committee members happened to come by and see me and, over the course of the conference, one of them and I worked out some changes to one of the programs (I say “we”–Mike did the hard work and the talking to people, I gave him some ideas, started a couple of conversations and asked to be copied on the emails.).  I saw a few other chairs and we shared some ideas but the wifi at the conference was so weak that I couldn’t edit a GDoc while I was there.  Did I mention that 98% of my committee’s work is in a GDoc Spreadsheet?

Interestingly, several people have come to me assuming that I can put programs into the program now or that LITA PPC actually arranges the programs.  While we have the latest (last I checked) deadline for annual programs, that deadline is long past.  When we’re talking about a conference of 25K people, it’s not quite as easy to throw a program in at the last minute.  And while we select and coordinate programs, the PPC does not traditionally arrange and put on the programs.  Our work is much more behind the scenes.  That being said, the committee is responsible for the Flash Presentations.  This is a new program (it’s not about the Flash on the computer btw–someone asked) that I’ll send out a call for in April.  Six ten minute presentations about what’s going on in technology at your library RIGHT NOW.  But that was something I knew I wanted to arrange last summer and we already have our timeslot for that.

Someone else asked what if there is a cancellation?  We do not do a replacement.  Particularly this year.  Individual speakers on a panel might certainly change up until the conference but if an individual doing a presentation pulls out, I’m not going to go back to the list of suggested presentations.

That being said, I am sharing the LITA-PPC spreadsheet with LITA Education Chair Cody Hanson, who will be reviewing both the presentations that we accepted and those that we did not accept to see if there are workshops that he could create, speakers he could tap, and other opportunities that can be created out of the wealth of suggestions people put forth.  And one of our rejected proposals was handed as a suggestion name to an IG Chair who asked us for people for their panel.  So things do still happen.

Oh! I did go and talk to the LearnRT Board and they are entirely on board to take on coordinating with our programs to offer pre-program support: reviewing slides, dry run of the presentation via Skype, etc.  I’m thrilled to have their assistance and felt very welcome at their meeting.  I’m happily anticipating better programs by our presenters!

We’re under description deadline for the print this week, so it’s time to go send emails to all of my committee members again.


If there’s a question I didn’t answer, let me know…


Madame Chair (or, I Want a Hat)

If I’m chair of a committee, shouldn’t I get to wear a hat? I know being Madame President gets you a large hat with lots of fabric roses and gauze, I’m just looking for something with a couple of ribbons and bows: tasteful and modest but still noticeable.

One of the major things that I did at ALA Annual this year was take over as chair of the Program Planning Committee for the Library Information Technology Association (LITA-PPC). I’ve heard from a lot of people that they would enjoy more transparency about committees and such. While I can’t speak too much to how other people are doing it, I can give you my view from the inside.

I’ve been a member of LITA-PPC for two years already, working under two very progressive chairs (Jason Griffey and Ranti Junus). I signed on with the clear understanding that, as  committee member, I wouldn’t be able to go to Midwinter.  During my first Midwinter on the committee I was in Egypt, so I couldn’t even phone in to that meeting, but I felt comfortable and confident from the work we’d done in our fall phone calls and emails.  A lot has changed in the past five-ten years. We don’t require all of our presenters to also appear before us at Midwinter to tell us how they are doing, as used to be the case.  Now that I’m chair, Midwinter isn’t optional, but hey–I’ve never been to Dallas (2012) or Seattle (2013). Telling my committee members that I wasn’t about to require that they come was the one of the first things out of my mouth during our meeting in New Orleans.  I was invited to become chair by the Vice-President of LITA at the recommendation of my previous chairs.

My committee is tasked with organizing and shepherding conference programs for the Annual meetings.  I’m working with twelve committee members,  the liaison(s) to the LITA Forum planning committee, a LITA Board liaison, and 2-3 ALA staff liaisons.  I’ve got a really good group to work with and, so far, everyone has chimed in and been very responsive on the private listserv that we use for communication.  In theory we’re supposed to be doing more on ALA Connect. In practice, it’s hard to make people (me included) remember to go and sign in to yet another site every day or week. The listserv pushes to us and with threaded email conversations most of it is pretty easy to follow.

Call for proposals went out today. I’ve been editing the form that we used last year, getting committee feedback (the Warmaiden is excellent for that!), trying to come up with some ideas to jumpstart proposers, and so on. Hitting send today made it live and out into the world and really kicks our work off.

Now we’ll accept program proposals from all various and sundry groups and individuals. What I like about LITA-PPC is that a program doesn’t have to be supported by an IG or another committee for us to consider it. It opens the possibility of getting suggestions from individuals who may not have the time or wading abilities to get thru the various structures.

Once the program proposals are in, each committee member will go through the proposals, scoring and commenting.  I’ll tally this and then we’ll have a meeting (thank you Skype!) to discuss what we’ve received. At that point we’ll ask for any clarification or combination that we feel is necessary.  We’ll re-discuss those programs with questions and make the final yay and nay.

And that only takes me to early September.  We’ll worry about what happens after that a little closer to date.

Something new that we’re doing is a collaboration with the Learning Round Table (LearnRT).  This came out of a recording session of T is for Training at ALA. While sitting with Maurice Coleman and the others, we were talking about what was working or not working for us in the sessions we had attended. The idea arose that it would be nice to have a way for presenters to get feedback about their presentation and a critical eye BEFORE ALA, in hopes that fewer attendees would doze off, sneak out, or start playing on Facebook.  We took the collaboration back to our respective groups and LITA-PPC is the test subject for this. We’ll see how many presenters take us up on this.

So tell me, what would you like to know about my committee work, being chair, and all that? Is there something not clear?

If you’re interested in submitting a proposal, please fill out the form here.


A View from the Pigeon Hole

A bit of rant this morning.

As noted before, I have to re-up for ALA this week and I’m not especially pleased about spending another year getting my email filled with yet more ads and having them send me shiny magazines with, at best, two articles each that are written with someone obviously other than me in mind. I understand not everyone has the fascination with RSS feeds that I do but the fact that I’m still seeing a proliferation of “understanding the very basics of xyz 2.0” articles and presentations scares me a wee bit.

I’m still frustrated at the base price of ALA, which provides me with said shiny magazine, a membership card, and discounted prices at conferences where I still have to pay to present. Assuming, of course, that I’d like to spend $1500+ hauling off to each of the bi-annual conferences. [Have you seen airline prices these days?] But what really irritates me is that there is very little place for involvement that doesn’t shunt one into a division (at least $35-$50 extra dollars per division) based on library type. I could just join roundtables, which I’ve done in the past, but I feel like I’m not getting enough out of all of this library networking that we young professionals are supposed to be doing.

Others have tried to argue to me that “you can get cross-library experience in any division.” I’m sure that may be true to some degree. However, I generally disagree. In a division you’re focused on the problems and needs of that type of library and while some of those problems are universal (funding), many of them are not (best in early literacy). And really, if you’re an academic librarian hiring another academic librarian, are you going to be looking with more interest at a resume of a public librarian who was in ALSC or an academic librarian whose name you’ve heard through ACRL? We are a profession of networkers and that still primarily comes through our divisions. Nothing says pigeon-hole to me like the ALA divisions.

I understand the necessity of grouping like things with like. Certainly college libraries are faced with different challenges than public libraries. But this strongly forced wedging of us means that it is at relatively great expense that we try to branch out to other types of librarianship. Also–my business card says Youth Services Librarian, La Crosse Public Library. Tell me, how many people on appointing committees for ACRL and RUSA would take me seriously? Would I truly be welcome in those divisions? Am I the only one hearing the sound of “Oh, well, she’s just a children’s librarian” with a polite pat on the head and shuffling me off back more appropriate divisions for my current work? I’ve already encountered professional condescension because I just work with children. It seems to baffle quite a lot of people that, while yes, I enjoy working with children, it might not be my only aspiration in my professional career.

Librarianship is supposed to be a flexible profession. And certainly I have met, heard of, and talked to librarians who have worked in all manner of libraries. They seem to be, however, the exceptions. Perhaps this is the choice of the professionals. But without our national organization (ALA) strongly encouraging and providing opportunities for us to find what else is out there, isn’t it shunting people into neat boxes?

Though not presently job hunting, it is a concern I’ve had in the past and a legitimate barrier that I’ve run into that people get hung up on my current job title and forget the flexibility of the training we all underwent. And while I think there are many people in PLA who would be amazing to work with and fascinating to learn from, I wonder as I contemplate that check box on my ALA renewal if it will make me that much more pegged into a specific job type. Of course, professional involvement and professional development will always be what you make of it. I know that and I know I can only reap whatever I’m willing to put into my participation at ALA. I just wish there was a better way to explore more of ALA and more of librarianship without spending the equivalent of a month or two’s rent, or at least more easily realized returns which made the investment feel worthwhile.

For those non-library people:
ALA –American Library Association
ALSC–Association for Library Service to Children
ACRL–Assocation of College and Research Libraries
RUSA–Reference and User Services Association
PLA–Public Library Association

Down to the Wire on ALA

My membership in ALA lapses at the end of the month so it is coming close to time to decide if I’ll renew another year. I assume I probably will–at least a basic membership–though I’d rather spend the $120 on many other things. I feel like I need to give it another year and another solid “try” before fully giving up on it and since Madame Director is about as supportive as anyone I’ll be able to find…now is a good time.

Reminder that there is a survey for members on electronic participation. Karen’s got the details. Please, please, please if you’re a member go over and fill this out. Insert cynical comment about how fast change will come here…but change must come.