I’ve just returned from Chicago where I attended the annual conference of the American Library Association. It’s a big conference – about 15,000 attendees including staff, vendors, trustees, Friends, library supporters. There are always more programs, more authors talks, more vendors demos than anyone can possibly attend and some of the best insights and new ideas come from casual conversation with other attendees.
As I begin to process all I heard and saw, here are a few observations:
- The software market for libraries is ever-growing. At every conference there are vendors with new or upgraded readers advisory, statistics, meeting room management, staff training software.
- Librarians still love authors and books. The author sessions were full and the publisher booths on the exhibits floor were crowded.
- We like author autographs, even in uncorrected proofs of books not yet published.
- We like to recognize good books with prizes. A new award, “The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction” were awarded to Richard Ford’s novel Canada and the nonfiction to Timothy Egan’s book Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis.
- There is a major emphasis on the role of libraries in summer activities for kids with “interest driven learning.”
Attending a conference is re-energizing. Those of us who attended from KPL will share our experiences across the library. We returned with good ideas but also a renewed perspective that we are “on the right track” and an appreciation for our community support.
ALA 2013 Conference Program