ALA 2010 Wrap-up

Hi, all. I know, once again I missed posting on Friday. I’m sorry, but with the flight to DC and the heat I really wasn’t in any shape to be blogging. So this post will serve as a wrap-up to my experience at ALA 2010. It was my first time going to ALA Annual and it was a very good conference experience.

After a rocky start of having my first flight delayed over an hour (and then miraculously landing only about 5-10 minutes late at the destination–don’t ask me, I don’t know–I think it involved use of a wormhole, a TARDIS or a time-turner), the rest of the trip was uneventful. I think about half of the flight from Detroit to DC consisted of librarians going to ALA! The rest of the day was spent being a tourist and having dinner with Nancy and Mary (Nerdfighter extrodinaires as well as librarian mother and future librarian daughter super duo).

Friday was the first day of conferencing (after a necessary trip to the National Archives, of course). I went to the PAIG (Preservation Administration Interest Group) meeting which was really informative. The talk on creating and maintaining sustainable preservation environments by James M. Reilley was fascinating and I look forward to reading the final reports on the results of turning off and on the climate control systems have on the environment and the collections. If the results are positive, it will be a boon for archives and libraries trying to preserve their collections while also being more environmentally friendly in terms of using energy. The presentation of some of the findings from the Ithaka Report was also interesting–although it was terrifying that some of the faculty agreed that it would be okay to discard primary source documents once they had been digitized. (yikes!)

Saturday was Library of Congress Day (a.k.a. let’s go and geek out over awesome digital forensic stuff). I listened in on the Library of Congress Twitter Archive talk in “The Stacks” (aka exhibit floor). Didn’t really hear anything new, but it was good to get confirmation on some information. Plus the two LoC speakers were engaging and drew a fairly large crowd for the tiny space they had set aside in their booth area for the talks.

In the afternoon, there was the amazing, awesome, fabulous (really I could go on and on geeking out over it, but I won’t) Digital Forensics talks and tour at LoC. Three research scientists in the preservation directorate (don’t you just love that name?) explained how they use non-invasive techniques to discover lost and obscured information in the documents in the LoC collection as well as creating baseline information and creating a research database of papers and pigment samples for conservation work. I’m so envious of the amazing tools they have at their disposal: electron scanning microscope, XRF (x-ray fluorescence), XRD (x-ray diffraction), and hyperspectral imaging, among others. While it was definitely cool to see all the amazing information they could uncover using these imaging techniques (like changes in speeches that can’t be seen with the naked eye and watermarks hidden by text), I think one of the best parts was the affirmation of the importance of the original document. As all the scientists said, the originals are so important because they can find out more information as the technology improves. So to them, like so many in the archives and preservation fields, digitization is an access tool, not a preservation tool.

photograph of librarians touring Library of Congress preservation lab

Librarians touring LoC Preservation lab

Another awesome part of their research is trying to create methods and techniques, not to mention tools, that librarians, conservators, and archivists at institutions with less resources than the LoC can afford. I am looking forward to their results because I can only imagine what great information there is to be found in the documents in other archives’ collections.

Sunday morning’s session on National Preservation Week was inspiring and it was great to hear about all the successful events held this year. I’m going to work with my library and some local community organizations to host at least one event for National Preservation Week 2011 (fingers crossed it all works out). And for those of you who like to plan ahead, National Preservation Week will be held April 24-30, 2011: “Pass it on”!

In the afternoon, Megan Oakleaf and I gave a presentation for the Instruction Section titled: “Question, Find, Evaluate, Apply: Translating Evidence Based Practice to Information Literacy Instruction” to an almost full room of around 450. (As an aside, I have to give props to The Litbrarian who was gracious enough to take me to brunch and put up with me stressing out before the talk–I get incredibly nervous before every talk I give, although I am fine once I start talking.) I think the talk went well; people participated, they laughed at our jokes, a lot of people knew about (and liked) xkcd and a good chunk of the audience watches Bones so they got my analogy using Dr. Brennan to explain evidence-based practice, and a number of people asked awesome questions during the Q & A. We even got tweeted about which I found pretty cool and a little strange as Clara Fowler, Chair of IS, told me that the tweets happening during the presentation were really positive. So yay! (Of course I had to go and look at the tweets and one of my favorites has to be from linkedlibrary: “Rules of EBL: Evidence=good; anecdote=bad; when in doubt, ask! Oakleaf and wakimoto are great.”) A huge thank you to the IS conference planning committee for inviting me to come speak–it was a blast and I’m so excited that so many librarians are interested in evidence-based practice! Our bibliography and links to the slides and resources can be found here: link to bibliography of suggested EBP resources. A review of our session was in Tuesday’s Cognotes (pdf) . How cool is that?

The final session I went to was “Emerging Research in Collection Management and Development.” Both Aline Soules, who is my colleague at Cal State East Bay, and Jeffrey Kushkowski, from Iowa State University, talked about their current research. Aline is comparing biographical databases to information found on the open web to determine which products, or combination of products, are best for use when researching authors. Kushkowski has, with the help of a team of graduate students, completed journal article citation analyses to determine journal rankings in the field of corporate governance. It was good to hear about research that is outside of my own research interests and specialties. But I can definitely say that the only way I would ever do a citation analysis study on the scale of Kushkowski’s study (analyses of over 15,000 citations) was if I had a team of graduate students too!

Overall, my first ALA Annual Conference experience was positive, although if the exhibits opened earlier on Friday I wouldn’t complain. It definitely helped to have a focus in order to sort out what tracks to attend (although there were about 3 other talks I really wanted to go to that were happening at the same time I was speaking). DC is an amazing city, but I’m with the other NorCal, Bay Area people who came to the conference: the heat and humidity were a little overwhelming. I do hope to come back to DC to see more of it because this was a bit of a whirlwind tour and hopefully I’ll also be able to attend more ALA Annual Conferences as well.

More technology and library fun to follow shortly, but in the meantime get back to your summer reading and relaxing.

2 thoughts on “ALA 2010 Wrap-up

  1. Very informative blog, Diana! I almost feel as if I’d been there. Your presentation sounds fantastic–many heartfelt congratulations!

    • Hi, Judy. Thanks! I’m glad the blog was helpful. I really enjoyed co-presenting with Megan–it was a lot of fun.

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