Hope for ALA pt 3/3 (or: Another Association of Change)

Hope for ALA pt 1/3: ALA/LITA Elections
Hope for ALA pt 2/3: Why I Love ALA Connect

After attending ACRL (for the first time), I think there’s something to talk about there, too.

Roz rocks it out

ACRL was a cosponsor of the first virtual conference I ever attended. That was three years ago, and it seems like every year since then, there’s been some kind of large-scale virtual offering. This conference offered an in-person and virtual option. I feel pretty strongly about allowing people to participate in professional organizations even if they are unable to physically attend, so that there was an offering like this, so early in my career, helped shape my expectations that this should always be a possibility.

This was my first ACRL conference, and though there were a few things I would adapt and change, I was overall impressed. Some of the strengths included:

  • The conference worked hard to be Green.
  • Twitter was fairly widespread, and provided a pretty good conference backchannel.
  • ACRL embraced social networking by providing a tag, and encouraging its use across networks. At the end, this content was tied together in a slideshow for the closing session.
  • The Cyber Zed Shed continues to be a big draw for people, and many people had very positive things to say.
  • ACRL conducts focus groups during the conference. I attended one for those under 35. Soliciting this type of information from members can help the organization shift to better meet needs.

In general, I was impressed with how ACRL embraced social software to make the conference be useful to more than just those there. So, while I cited LITA as an organization that can be a model for ALA, I am citing ACRL to be a model for how conferences can work. I would like to see some changes: for example, the Zed Shed could have two tracks: one for really emerging, cutting edge information, and one that is about where it is now. But over all, I’m impressed.

And, really, though I’ve been very involved with ALA for about five years, I don’t know all the different groups and conferences. (I haven’t made it to a LITA conference yet.) But these are the shining examples I’ve seen. What have you seen that gives you hope for ALA?

Hope for ALA pt 2/3 (or: Why I love ALA Connect)

I was thinking of the different ALA type posts I have in mind to write, and I realized it’s actually a series of three. One on LITA and how I think it’s poised to show the larger association what is possible and how to be relevant for library workers of today and tomorrow, one on ALA and how ALA Connect is a great step, and one on ACRL and how their recent made use of a number of tools that made it that much more relevant.

Since my LITA Endorsement post really made a case for how LITA can show the way to ALA, I’m counting that as post 1 of the series. This is post 2.

Jenny Levine has rocked it out. One thing that I’ve been observing is that as there are more options for collaborating online, people go outside of official channels. I don’t know that I would pass a value judgment on that act. In many cases I prefer the alternate, more open ones. But if I were working on a strategy for online communications for a large organization (like ALA) I would definitely be looking for ways to bring all the communication related to the organization under one roof, and I would be looking for a way that would save the members time and make their contributions easier. Upon first looking at it, I think ALA Connect allows just this.

Lauren Pressley | ALA Connect | American Library Association

Here are a few things worth noting:

  • When you first log in, use the same information you use to log into the ALA site. You can change this to another login and password once you’re in. (I didn’t realize this at first, so I created an account. After realizing the benefits of the original one, I had to get help deleting the one I created. Thanks, Jenny!)
  • Your account will already know some things about you: the sections, committees, etc, you’re involved with through ALA, your email address, job title, etc. Pretty much, if ALA knows it, it can populate your profile with the information.
  • You can friend people, just like on Facebook.
  • You can pull in your blog posts, delicious bookmarks, and flickr photos. They show up in the left hand sidebar.
  • Your committees, etc, have space where they can work. You can pull in similar information there, too. For example, I was able to pull in the DILG blog to their page.
  • If you are familiar with social networks or wyswyg wiki editors, you’re ready to go.

I think this movement represents a very positive shift within the association. It’s honestly the first time I felt I could point at something and say, “there, that’s a benefit I’m getting from ALA.” (I feel I get value from my ALA colleagues and from participating in committees, but this is something that’s ALA specific rather than something that could happen on its own or in other venues.) If all goes well, this could be a case of our association showing other organizations how to make use of online communication/information technologies to support the work of their organization. Way to go Jenny (and all the Connect team members)!

So, anyway, I’m really impressed! I love the informal groups that are popping up all over the web, but it’s nice to have a streamlined place for association work and communication. If you check it out, friend me! :)