Caught My Eye: Accounts from ALA Midwinter, Boston Jan. 8-12.

By scalamw16heduling Midwinter early this year, ALA may have dodged a bullet – or at least a blizzard. Had the conference been held a couple of weeks later, as it often is, getting in and out of Boston would have been a nightmare as winter storm Jonas roared up the northeastern corridor closing down airports and making travel almost impossible. But fortunately for the 11,716 librarians, vendors, and library supporters attending Midwinter on Jan. 8-12, the weather behaved. Except for a little rain and some frigid night temperatures, things were manageable by Boston standards. Getting to and from the city was pretty straightforward, and once there, navigating around the conference venues was fairly easy.

Midwinter itself was its usual collection of ALA business meetings,  panel presentations, vendor exhibits, and keynote speakers.  But as always, not everyone who wanted to attend was able to make it so we thought we would try to convey a sense of what went on by sharing a few conference related posts, articles, and a Midwinter video that “caught our eye.”

  • American Libraries full and detailed coverage is ideal for those who can’t get enough of the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting.  It features a myriad of daily reports highlighting everything from keynote addresses, award ceremonies, and panel discussions,  to impressions from the exhibit hall, ALA Council reports, and top Tweets.  (Midwinter junkies should also check out the online version of Cognotes.)

ALA exhibitfloor

  • Ready for the Next Phase | ALA Midwinter 2016 is a post by LJs Lisa Peet that also notes the Libraries Transform public awareness program and sees it as a strong theme for the overall conference. In addition, Ms. Peet reports on the launch of the second Knight News Challenge on Libraries that poses the question “How might libraries serve 21st century information needs?”  She also draws attention to high-profile speakers like filmmaker Ken Burns, author Andre Dubus III, designer and media star Isaac Mizrahi, activists Mary Frances Berry and Lizzie Velasquez, library advocate Nancy Pearl, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, and Chelsea Clinton. Other Midwinter topics covered in the article include policy and process issues like privacy, censorship, and the future of digital content.
  • Attendance Up at ALA Midwinter 2016 offers Publishers Weekly’s take on the Midwinter conference. Their reporters noted “the impressive turnout” especially considering the upcoming Public Library Association meeting this spring. Aside from the featured speakers and the various book and media awards, they noted other highlights including a session by ALA’s Digital Content Working Group, the Digital Public Library of America’s annual meet and greet, and a session sponsored by the ALA Washington Office, in which New York Public Library officials demonstrated a new app to bring free e-book access to low-income students. (For more on the turnout see PW’s  Solid Attendance at 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting)
  • Library Assessment: Notes from ALA Midwinter 2016 is a blog by Kimberly D. Lutz and Christine Wolff of Ithaka S+R in which they provide a roundup of what they learned at several valuable sessions on assessment, evaluation, and data visualization.


The Boston Downtown Skyline

  • Bots, Block Chain, and Beacons: Hot Topics at LITA Tech Trends Panel | ALA Midwinter 2016 is another report from LJ.  This post discusses one of the more popular panels held at Midwinter. Coming under scrutiny in this year’s Tech Trends session were technologies like service robots in a library environment, open source software, location-based information services, learning analytics programs that protect student confidentiality, block chain technology, the growth of interoperability and the emergence of “broad data praxis.”
  • The Next Big Step for E-Books in Libraries recounts the experience of Publishers Weekly’s Andrew Richard Albanese in speaking at a Midwinter panel sponsored by the ALA Digital Content Working Group.  Mr. Albanese focused his remarks on the state of the e-book market, and what libraries can expect going forward.  One of his main takeaways from the panel (and his other conversations at Midwinter) is that “as it is currently set up, the library e-book market is too burdensome to manage, complex for users to navigate, and library e-book prices are too expensive to sustain.”  What is needed? Patience and open lines of communication between librarians and publishers.  (For more on this panel see the American Libraries article “The Ebook Glass Is Half Full.”)
  • NISO @ ALA Mid-Winter 2016 Boston is a webpage from the NISO that provides the slides from the  various update presentations made by NISO staff at the Midwinter Conference in Boston.

And for those of you who are more visually inclined, this video by ATG’s John Riley captures a few scenes from Boston’s ALA Midwinter that offer a small sample of what was happening, particularly on the exhibit floor.

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