The 2019 American Library Association Annual Conference kicks off today in Washington, DC with good weather and a great program awaiting attendees. Historically, Washington has always been a strong draw for ALA, and ALA officials are expecting a solid showing at this year's event.
The main speaker program begins today with a keynote from YA and middle grade author Jason Reynolds (Opening General Session, June 21, 4–5:15 p.m., WWCC Ballroom B-C). Born in Washington (and raised in neighboring Oxon Hill, Md.), Reynolds began writing at age nine, publishing several poetry collections before his 2014 debut novel, When I Was the Greatest, which won the 2015 John Steptoe Award for New Talent. A reception will immediately follow on the show floor, which will feature a slew of author signings.
Meanwhile, among the issues included in a packed professional program is the future of the ALA itself. There are a number of scheduled meetings on the association's future, which includes an update on the search for a new executive director to replace Mary Ghikas, who has been leading the organization since Keith Michael Fiels retired nearly two years ago, after the 2017 Annual Conference. After more than two decades at ALA, Ghikas herself is looking to retire in January 2020—and hoping to leave behind a modernized, revamped organization.
For more on the show, check out Publishers Weekly's pre-ALA coverage:
Check out the great work being done at the ALA's Washington Office, via a Q&A with ALA Washington Office Director Kathi Kromer
PW Contributor Joe Janes has a great piece on why you should take some time out of your busy ALA schedule to see some our nation's most revered documents at the National Archives, and at the Library of Congress.
A Q&A with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden touches on what the library has planned for the 2019 Annual Conference, her own involvement with ALA over her career, and her vision for the Library of Congress.
A chat with incoming AASL president Mary Keeling.
As PW reported this week, Hachette has drawn criticism from libraries for changing its terms for digital lending, both for e-books and digital audio. Today, the Urban Libraries Council added a forceful statement, calling out the major publishers for taking "a dangerous step backwards” with their new pricing models. Notably, the statement frames the issue of e-books in libraries not only as an economic issue for the publishing industry, but as an equity issue:
“Libraries have been fighting an uphill battle when it comes to pricing and access to e-books. Publishers have kept pricing unreasonably high, and restrictions such as embargoes on new titles have only made matters worse. The decisions by Hachette Book Group and Penguin Random House to eliminate perpetual e-book licensing represent a dangerous step backwards in establishing a fair and sustainable e-book market between libraries and publishers. Although the new model will lower the initial costs of e-books, the two-year licenses will undermine the ability for libraries to establish rich collections that can meet the needs of a wide and diverse readership.For many individuals in the digital age, the library provides their only point of access for e-books. ULC urges these publishers to consider the real impact of these changes on readers and authors from all backgrounds.”
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has landed a $622,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to strengthen and expand its national cultural heritage network and platform. "The DPLA’s cultural heritage aggregation program has been its signature achievement since launching in 2013, making over 34 million items—photographs, maps, news footage, oral histories, manuscript documents, artwork, and more—from 4,000 libraries, museums, and archives across the country freely discoverable to all."
From the American Library Association: nominations are now open for the prestigious I Love My Librarian Award. The national award recognizes the outstanding public service contributions of librarians working in public, school, college, community college or university libraries who transform communities and improve lives. Nominations are being accepted online now through Oct. 21, 2019. "Since the award was established in 2008, library users nationwide have shared more than 19,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to connect them to information, educational opportunities, and critical technology. Over the last decade, only 110 librarians have received this distinguished honor."
From American Libraries, an editorial on the state of the ALA's endowment. "Over the past five years...the [ALA's] portfolio has grown from $38.7 million to $47.3 million, as of April. This is nearly all the result of market performance related to asset allocation decisions with minimal contributions. While the market has worked in our favor these past few years, trustees recognize the need to help buffer the endowment from potential volatility."
From the Los Angeles Times, a fascinating take from Patricia Sterne Evans, on the fire at the heart of Susan Orlean's The Library Book. "I was the Community Redevelopment Agency’s deputy administrator for downtown L.A. when I managed the outside volunteer effort to get the books out of the library after the fire. It was the most extraordinary and inspiring thing I’ve ever been involved in."
From Inside Higher Ed: On a sign outside the library at the University of Central Arkansas, librarians placed a quote from Lady Gaga: "Being gay is like glitter. It never goes away." University President Houston Davis ordered it removed.
And from The New York Times, we can't really trust Facebook to detect and remove fake videos, or safeguard our data, but, hey, what can go wrong with them running their own cryptocurrency-based global financial network?