Magazine article Information Today

The Many Faces of ALA's 2007 Annual Conference

Magazine article Information Today

The Many Faces of ALA's 2007 Annual Conference

Article excerpt

During the 2007 American Library Association (ALA) annual conference this summer in Washington, D.C., I ran into fellow blogger Dick Kaser, Information Today, Inc.'s vice president of content. When we exchanged notes on our conference experiences, I realized that we weren't at the same event, although we were both physically in Washington and attending ALA.

This year's ALA drew 26,000 people, each with his or her own agenda. Mine was technology; Kaser's was policy.

Other attendees followed sessions relevant to their own interests--school media centers, public libraries, library trustees, academic libraries, cataloging, or the inner workings of the association itself.

Most sessions that interested me were in the convention center. Kaser's were at more remote locations. He complained about travel time; I luxuriated in being able to switch from one session to another by walking across a hallway. And I could even slip away to the exhibit hall down a flight of escalators. Once in the exhibit hall, however, I ran the risk of being completely distracted, since it was long, narrow, and packed with interesting products.

What grabbed my attention in the exhibit hall was the return of the Choose Your Own Adventure (www.cyoa.com) books. These children's books are not something I follow from the online information perspective. Yet, they were a precursor to the "2.0 mentality" we embrace today. The books are nonlinear. They start with a few pages that set the story. After three or four pages, the reader must make a choice. Reading different pages takes the reader into different stories with different outcomes. My boys loved these when they were younger, but the books eventually went out of print. Now they're back with new adventures and a print alternative to the gaming generation.

Choosing Technology

My choices in the technology realm of this Choose Your Own Conference environment centered on social software, collaboration, marketing, and searchability. The first session I attended was Information in the World of Digital Natives. Although I missed the opening by Gale's Ken Breen, the discussion mentioned services that millennials favored, such as Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia, and del .icio.us. I was struck by how little most people knew about these technologies and the "us versus them" mentality when talking about providing library services to younger people.

In Harnessing the Hive: Social Networks and Libraries, Purdue University's Matthew Bejune classified wikis in libraries into four categories: collaboration between libraries; collaboration between library staff (internal); collaboration between staff and patrons; and collaboration between patrons. …

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