[Series] Hack ALA: Our ALA ’11 Recommended Sessions

Editors Note: Welcome to Hack ALA Week! We’ve been planning this for quite some time now, and although we’re titling this a “Week” you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll continue writing about ALA generally beyond this week. As the preeminent professional organization in our profession, whose mandates and bylaws permeate our classrooms as well as our future workplaces, the American Library Association deserves a critical eye as much as any other part of professional librarianship. Our goal herein is to examine this organization from the students’ perspective, weighing pros and cons and assessing the value of membership for the library school student. There are myriad opinions on ALA and we encourage readers to explore them all, and hope that our subsequent posts on the topic offer an insight to how the organization works, and particularly this week, on how to survive ALAs Annual Conference. Enjoy and as always, we welcome you to think critically about, challenge and respond to our writings.

ALA Annual is lauded as “The Worlds Largest and Most Dynamic Library Conference and Exhibition,” and arguably it can be seen as a rite of passage for new LIS professionals. There is no easy way to say this – the conference is a gigundo-crazy-overwhelming-ridicoulo-book/people/knowledge fest. I’m pretty sure even the seasoned ALAer veteran is still like a kid in a candy shop when the conference kicks off. That said, I, your friendly neighborhood HackLibSchool blogger, took to the web and through some major investigative efforts (made supremely easy by ALA Connect’s Conference Scheduler) have compiled a list of the sessions and yes, even some informal meetups that LIS students might find interesting. Below is a short list; I deliberately avoided any career/interest sessions as I’d encourage you to investigate those options on your own. Check out the New ALA Members tag for a good overview of some other sessions to consider.

Night/Networking Events

ALAplay 2011

Friday June 24, 7:30 – 10pm
Hilton New Orleans Riverside

Networking, cosplay, comic books & graphic novels, board & social games, and more! Come enjoy an evening of fun while exploring new game offerings and collection development / programming ideas, while meeting and sharing ideas with librarians from across the country. Mingle with outstanding comics creators, win a piece of original art in our raffle, and snap a photo keepsake at our cosplay (or costume-play) photo booth (we bring the costumes and accessories from steampunk to sci-fi to gamer gear, you bring the imagination and attitude!). Cosplay of all kinds is encouraged but not necessary plus pick up tips on how to bring cosplay into your library.

This just sounds like a good old fashioned, weirdy librarian pop culturey fun time.

ALA Dance Party 2011

Friday June 24, 10pm – the breaka breaka dawn
Oz New Orleans (800 Bourbon St.)

Dance. Party. Is there anything else I need to say?

Info: http://bit.ly/alaparty

ALA 2011 Newbie & Veteran Tweet-up

Saturday, June 25 7-9pm
at BarUncommon

It’s no secret that we love us some Twitter. If you haven’t been to a Tweetup before (they are organized around a million different interests), this one would be a great place to start. Not only will you already have something in common with folks there (oversharing your life publicly on the internet… oh and libraries), but this session will be a great informal way to meet new colleagues, and what the hell! it’s at a bar! What could go wrong when beer and librarians are involved? 😉

RSVP here: http://twtvite.com/ala11twtup

ALA Advocacy Flashmob and Freeze

Sunday June 26, 5:30 – 6:30pm
Jackson Square

Been talkin’ up your advocacy chops around the program/internet? Prove it. Here’s your chance.

Facebook Event Invite.

Student Reception

Sunday June 26, 6:30-7:30 pm
Hilton New Orleans Riverside – Rosedown

The reception welcomes library school students and invited guest to network in a relaxed environment and learn more about ALA units from their representatives. The Student Chapter of the Year Award is presented and light refreshments will be served.

This sounds like a good, calm introduction to ALA – The Organization. Plan to come with questions for these “ALA Representatives” to make sure the awkward silences are handled gracefully. Oh, and light refreshments probably means free food if you’re on a budget.

Batledecks 2011

Monday June 27, 5:30 – 7pm
Convention Center Rm. 344

Battledecks is not for the faint of heart. It is a nerve-wracking event where those competing must create a coherent presentation from a deck of slides that they have never seen before. This is truly the perfect way to end your conference experience as these courageous individuals compete for the glory of being crowned the next champ.

Developing speaking/presenting skills is becoming a foundation of many info professions, and making it into a game is probably a great idea. I’d expect some humor and some TedXALA type stuff out of this one. 

International Librarians Reception

Monday June 27, 6-8 pm
Generation Hall – 310 Andrew Higgins Dr.
COST: $40

Please join the International Relations Round Table (IRRT) in welcoming and celebrating with librarians from more than 80 countries at the ALA Annual Conference. Open to all conference attendees, this reception offers a unique opportunity to network with hundreds of information professionals from around the world. Join us for a mixing of culture and ideas, regional cuisine, hors d’oeuvres and open bar (this event is free for international librarians). Advance registration is required. No tickets will be sold at the site.

Although there is a cost for this event, I’d like to encourage any who can afford it to attend. It seems we often get centered on our own country and forget that librarians exist all around the world. Building an international community is more important now than ever. 

Conference Sessions

Professional Socialization and Trendspotting

Friday, June 24, 9am-12pm OR 1:30-4:00pm
Convention Center Rm. 275

ALA leaders will speak to the students during these times; seminars on ALA’s history and leadership, evidence-based practice, networking, assessing conference presentations, spotting trends in sessions and exhibits, etc.

Approaching this as a ‘conference hack’ session seems appropriate. 

Conference 101

Friday June 24, 1-3:30pm
Convention Center Rm. 293-296

Are you a first-time conference attendee with a long list of questions? Long-time ALA members and leaders will teach you to decipher the conference program and navigate the exhibits. You’ll learn how ALA really works and leave with the confidence and knowledge to make the most of your conference experience.

And another. I’ve heard these introduction sessions can be good or bad depending on how comfortable you feel in the conference environment. Been to a few already? You could probably skip this one and be just fine. 

Conference Orientation

Saturday June 25, 8-10 am
Convention Center Rm. 271-273

New to the Annual Conference or ALA? Get a fun and informative introduction to the Annual Conference and New Orleans. Learn how to navigate the exhibits and decipher the conference program, how to make ALA and NMRT work for you, and where to spend your free time in the city. NMRT provides tips from the pros and an orientation that will prepare you to take full advantage of the conference experience.

This is most likely going to be a great place to start, grab some info, a map, and maybe meet up with some fellow n00bies. 

Leadership of ALA Student Chapters

Saturday June 25, 12:30-1:30
W New Orleans – Studio 2

No official description in the Conference Scheduler yet, but I’d wager a guess that this session will be one of the more valuable ones for our self-directed and strong personality folks. We need good leaders at the student chapters, so that they can become better leaders in the organization later on. I vote Britt Foster for ALA Queen. Forever.

Emerging Leaders Salon

Saturday June 25 1:30 – 3:30 pm
Convention Center Rm. 245

All classes of Emerging Leaders come together to discuss the program and their projects.

The Emerging Leaders program is worth examining. These folks are chosen out of a pool of applicants to represent the future of ALA and librarianship through service and new ideas. Supposedly, applications for the 2012 round will open soon. Have a good idea, and a passion for the profession? APPLY! But first go to this session and see what it’s all about. 

Seizing Opportunities to Serve: Professional Involvement, Local to National

Saturday June 25, 1:30 – 3:30 pm
Convention Center Rm. 265-268

Are you just getting started in librarianship? Are you looking for ways to volunteer for your local, state, regional or national organizations? Do you want to serve on a committee, act as a reviewer, or run for an office, but don’t know where or how to get started? Well, you’ve taken your first step by joining ALA! Our panel of speakers will help you with the next steps, as they discuss their involvement in professional organizations, tips and techniques on how to be an effective volunteer, and why service work is valuable to both you and librarianship at large!

Diversity and Outreach Fair

Saturday June 25, 3 – 5pm
Convention Center – Special Events, Halls I/J

The annual Diversity and Outreach Fair celebrates local library services, programs and collections to underserved and under-represented communities. Visit with program implementers, learn details and strategies for success, and consider how they might be repeated in your library community. Enjoy the festive atmosphere while networking and learning about these important programs.

This is an area that all of us can support. From the description it sounds like a bazar-type session, so it might be worth stopping in and chatting at a booth or two before taking an afternoon break. 

The Side Gig: How to Supplement Your Income in Tough Economic Times

Sunday June 26, 8-10am
Convention Center Rm. 269

Finding another income is critical for so many librarians and support staff. This program will feature library staff who have found second jobs to supplement their incomes. The audience will be introduced to traditional and non-traditional options, how to find a second job that fits, and their benefits and disadvantages.

Hey! We wrote about this too (kinda) – Non-Traditional LIS Roles. 

*Student Learning Outcomes*

Monday June 27, 10:30am – 12 pm
Embassy Suites New Orleans Convention Center – Jean Lafitte 1

ALA’s Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library & Information Studies stress the importance of program-level student learning outcomes. ALA-accredited programs must demonstrate that they are engaging in broad-based and continuous planning, development, and improvement through assessment and evaluation at the program level. Join Committee on Accreditation members Ling Hwey Jeng and David Werner as they host a discussion centered on this timely and important topic. Jim Carey, Professor Emeritus of the School of Information at the University of South Florida, will be the guest speaker. Dr. Carey’s research includes measurement and evaluation within a higher education setting.

I went ahead and *starred* this session because I think this is a key one for us to pay attention to. The accreditation process and guidelines are what sets the standards for our programs, and as we here at HackLibSchool have explored, perhaps those standards need to be reassessed from a different (student-focused) perspective.

How I Landed My First Librarian Position, And What I Did “In Between.”

Monday June 27, 10:30am – 12pm
Convention Center Rm. 398

New library professionals have been particularly affected by today’s economic climate. Facing a tough job market, many are unemployed, underemployed, or employed outside the field. This program features panelists that have successfully leveraged extended periods of job seeking into fantastic job offers. Current students and recent graduates will receive honest, hard-hitting advice on how to maximize their “in between” time, as well as glean inspiration from peers that have finally landed their first librarian position.

Lastly, we would love to host some sort of HackLibSchool meetup at some point during the conference, but may need some help planning it and getting organized since none of us are too familiar with NOLA. We’re thinking a nice informal drinks/chats meetup. Suggestions? Add in the comments! Thank You!

20 replies

  1. I also think it’s important to leave time to see the vendors! There are so many and it will takes hours to go through! Don’t forget to pack an extra bag for the free books from the publishers! — My two cents.


  2. Hello everyone! I’m chairing the NMRT student reception, and wanted to extend an extra invitation to all of you to attend. There will be food and a chance to talk with other library school students and librarians. I’m also an alumna of the Emerging Leaders program, so if you have questions on that, I’m more than happy to talk about it.
    So, please, come! Eat! Say hello 🙂


  3. I’ll put in a plug for ALAplay, which is kind of like mini-ALA Comic Con. Take the best parts of the traditional Open Gaming Night, add some cosplay and free swag, and you have a great way to meet other attendees in a fun setting. Then you can head to the ALA Dance Party together. 🙂

    Jenny Levine
    ALA staff


  4. I’d like to put in a plug for ALCTS 101 on Friday night, June 24th, from 7:45 to 9:00 pm in room 245 of the Convention Center.

    If you’re interested in a career in tech services, come hear what ALCTS is all about. Meet and network with new and veteran colleagues.

    We’ve set the evening up in a speed-dating format, so that you’ll have fun while meeting and learning.

    Prizes for the ALA student chapter with the most students in attendance, membership give-aways, and other cool things.

    All welcome! Come join us!
    Debbie Ryszka, chair, ALCTS Membership Committee


  5. All the events mentioned sound FANTASTIC!!! Perhaps post ALA, HACK-ers can post a sort of diary of what they did for each day. 🙂


    • We will definitely be doing some sort of follow up, post-conference. Also, if possible, those of us who are attending will be doing some ‘reporting’ from the conference itself! Should be interesting!


  6. Great list of events!

    I’d like to suggest one more: LLAMA/NMRT New Leaders Discussion Group, scheduled for Saturday, June 25, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm at Morial Convention Center Rm 271-273. (http://www.llama.ala.org/llamaleads/?p=928)

    This newly created discussion group is designed to provide opportunities for informal discussion and networking among LIS students, new librarians, new members of LLAMA and/or NMRT, librarians who are making career shifts, experienced leaders, and anyone interested in developing leadership skills.

    I’ll be convening the Discussion Group, and I’d like to extend an invitation for all of you to attend. Hope to see you there!


  7. Thank you for the list–now I have some focus. I am part of the panel for the Side Gig Sunday June 26, 8-10am, Convention Center Rm. 269 if cobbling together diverse lines of income catches your eye.


  8. Thanks for posting the Battledecks location, I’d been looking around for that! I’ll be presenting on the panel at “How I Landed My First Librarian Position, And What I Did In Between.” so if there are any hack library school peeps there, say hello! Or let me know if you wanna meet up. 🙂


  9. Thanks for the recommendations. I’m currently going through the ALA scheduler and overwhelmed by the sheer number of sessions (even limited by my interests). I’ll try to make it to the HackLibSchool stuff because I’d love to meet you guys (and see anyone I already know again).


  10. Thanks for the great additions to my schedule! I’m going to have to really work on my shyness to take advantage of all the networking.
    I do have a question about the schedule. What are the differences between the types of sessions and which ones are open to curious newbies?


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