ALA Midwinter – Quick Preview

19/01/2012 § 7 Comments

In case you haven’t yet had the opportunity to be introduced to the idea of professional networking, here’s a quick intro: librarians near and far, from all varieties of the field, twice a year attend gigantic conferences hosted by our preeminent organization, the American Library Association. There are constant debates about the value of membership in this organization, and we highly encourage all readers to throughly investigate how and where they plan to invest their professional time. That said, I (Micah) think its important to be part of ALA for the very reason this blog exists, to support the idea of “Big Tent Librarianship” and build connections with peers and colleagues in different areas of work.

So, I’ll be attending ALA Midwinter in Dallas this weekend, along with my fellow HackLibSchool writers Teresa and Ashley. Here are a few tips/pointers/suggestions if you’re a student or recent grad heading to the conference:

1. Bring a water bottle

2. Carry your phone charger with you

3. Wear comfortable shoes (but fashionable, of course!)

4. Contact the ALA New Members Round Table (NRMT) – they’re here for you!

5. Get out, be personable and meet people!

6. Contact Micah (micahvandegrift [at] gmail) if you want to be added to the ALAMW GroupMe group chat/text thingie. Smart phone not required! Great way to stay in touch, find out where the good sessions are, organize a lunch or breakfast, and generally make new friends!

7. Use ALA Connect’s Conference Scheduler to get organized and plan out the sessions you’re attending. Seriously. Invaluable.

And to facilitate #5, we are happy to promote several social events that are a great way to connect with new colleagues.

(and selfishly, two events close to our hearts):

Hope to see some of you in Dallas! Don’t be shy, come up and say hello!

Bonus: Check out this series of posts from last year’s ALA Annual Conference to get a sense of how we hack conferences.

Real-Life Strategies for Successful Library Job Hunting

27/12/2011 § Leave a comment

The job market is lurking in the minds of many of us who are about to finish up our degrees. It’s a tough market out there and getting a library job is not an easy feat. Fortunately, ALA has great webinars that help prepare job seekers for the library job market. On January 4, 2012, at 2:00 pm Eastern Time, Andromeda Yelton (@ThatAndromeda) and Tiffany Mair(@tiffanylora) will lead the conversation on job hunting strategies. This won’t be your usual webinar, this one will be interactive, engage people in conversations about various topics related to job hunting. Participants will be framing the agenda and sharing solutions as well. We plan on it being a very active and engaging session! HackLibSchool will also be helping out by moderating a Google Doc that participants can contribute to, as the webinar is going on. We hope that you join in, it’s free!

Register today to join the discussion with Andromeda and Tiffany on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Banned Books Week: A Discussion on Intellectual Freedom for Kids

28/09/2011 § 9 Comments

Can of Worms. 'No Matter' Project Photo Stream on Flickr.

In honor of Banned and Challenged Books Week, Britt and Rebecca want to discuss the assumptions, implications, and consequences of challenging and banning books in public and school libraries, particularly for youth.  We think that library school is the best time to explore these topics so you can develop intellectual and ethical positions before you start your career; even as they shift and change in practice, having a theoretical foundation and a chance to exchange ideas with peers is a way to build your own position.  Please add your voice to the discussion!
Rebecca: Off the bat, I am totally pro-intellectual freedom, even for youth.  I think it’s necessary to expose children to all sorts of ideas and to encourage them to critically reflect on their reading to help them become better learners and citizens.  Similarly, it is the job of the parent to determine what is or isn’t appropriate for an individual child, and not the job of a library or school.  When a school removes a book, they aren’t just saying the book is inappropriate for some, or even most, children; they’re saying the book is inappropriate for all children.  That doesn’t seem right.

Britt: Of course, public and school librarians operate in different spheres of responsibility for a child’s access.  Many teacher librarians may act in loco parentis (in place of a parent) depending on their state or district; public librarians have no such mandate.  It is the common practice of public librarians (and the suggestion of ALA), particularly when processing a challenge, to place the responsibility for access on the parent, which relieves the librarian of that role.  This leaves us free to collect for a broader audience, but also, I feel, limits our ability to be advocates for intellectual freedom for youth.  Should youth librarians take a more active role when promoting access for children?  Should we advocate for the right of the child over that of the parent?

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To-Read Tuesday [Banned Books edition]

27/09/2011 § 2 Comments

In honor of Banned and Challenged Books Week (Sept 24-Oct 1), we’d like to share some of our new and old banned favorites with you! Join in the conversation in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and spread the word during this fantastic week to celebrate the freedom to read!


  • Favorite: I can’t pick one! I’d have to say Native Son by Richard Wright, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
  • Reading this week: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson and Lord of the Flies by William Golding and I’m also leading a Banned/Challenged Books Book Discussion at my library.


  • Favorite: one of the more famous banned books: Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I love it so much I have this t-shirt. Also George Orwell’s 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. These three books are incredible, and I could write a super long list of other ones I like too.
  • Reading this week: One of the unfortunate side effects of doctoral studies is that I don’t really get to read pleasure books except for about 5 minutes before bed, and since my brain is so mushy by the time I crawl into bed I’ve just started reading kids’ books. Right now it’s Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which I’m sure in one of its many incarnations has been banned at some point.
  • Favorite: I also can’t choose just one!  Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison: in college, I took a class on just this book.  blew. my. mind.  The Awakening by Kate Chopin: I haven’t read this book since high school, but I still remember the heated discussion our class had over the ending. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell: Seriously, how could you ban penguins?
  • Reading this week:  I think we should be reading banned books all year long! This week I’m not reading a banned book because I’m too caught up with a recent release (The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson) that I just can’t put down! I wouldn’t be surprised if someone eventually challenged it.
  • Favorite: Oh, man… Maybe it’s a cliche, but Catcher in the Rye seriously changed the course of my life.  Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden are also up there.  When I was in middle school the librarian went out of her way to order these for me from the high school library, so I have a soft spot for the intellectual freedom implications.  I wasn’t really ready for them then, but when I re-read them as an adult, I was floored.  It was spiritual.
  • Reading this week: I’m re-reading Julia Mickenberg, Philip Nel, and Jack Zipes’s Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature.  Julia Mickenberg also wrote Learning from the Left: Children’s Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United States, and she’s a big favorite. Little Rebels contains a huge collection of radical kid’s lit organized by theme from the early 1900s on, reproduced in facsimiles, with author/illustrator bios and some critical commentary.  Political challenges aren’t as sexy as they used to be, but it’s oh-so-good!  The Marxist abecedarian alone is worth a look.
  • Favorite: My all-time favorite books are Grapes of Wrath, The Handmaid’s Tale, and To Kill A Mockingbird all of which were, surprisingly, assigned reading in high school.  I went to a fairly liberal private high school where we were encouraged to question authority and engage critically with assignments.  I would probably not the book lover I am today without these one.
  • Reading this week: The Hunger Games because I’m co-planning a huge event for the public library for the movie release in March.  (For the record, I am and will always be Team Gale!)
  • Favorite: I have a few favorites but among them are: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (she’s one of my favorite authors) and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. After I read The Jungle, I didn’t eat hot dogs for YEARS. I read it in middle school and it opened my eyes to the way workers were treated pre-union days.
  • Reading this week: Not sure! My student group is doing a Banned Books event and we’re reading out from our banned book of choice. I might choose Heart of Darkness.

The Color of Knowledge: Diversity and Librarianship

21/07/2011 § 11 Comments

Stacie Mari Williams will complete her M.S. in Library Science and Archives Management at Simmons College?s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies in August 2011. She currently works in Access and Reference Services at Harvard Medical School’s Countway Library and sits on the board of directors of SLA-Boston as the organization’s archivist. She is interested in accessing all of the known information of the world on her smartphone, and reaching out to librar* folks, DJs, pastry chefs and Jedi knights via Twitter (@Wribrarian).

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