ALISE and ALA mid-winter conferences

About 350 library educators, mainly from the US, gathered in Westminster, Colorado to discuss the expanding LIS education universe.

The ALISE (Association of Library and Information Science Educators) conference began with an academy that asked questions about the future of the profession. Later in the conference, some predictions were made, the most prevalent being the need for interdisciplinary approaches and partnerships, and continuing to keep current with technology.

The conference sessions largely consisted of juried papers, panel discussions, and SIG offerings. Some of the running threads included data science, fake news, collaboration, disabilities (especially Autism Spectrum Disorders), archives, international librarianship, ethics, technical services, health literacy, information literacy, curriculum, instruction, social justice, research methods, online education, technology, and scholarly communication.

The poster sessions were also very popular, and gave a preview of future LIS education: such as vlogging, entrepreneurship, health literacy, genealogy instruction, services to marginalized populations, reading culture, virtual reality, coding and programming, makerspaces, big data, open access publishing, ebook purchasing, and more.

School librarianship is not a major aspect of ALISE, although the issues certainly impact them. Sessions dealt with marginalized populations, literacies, technology, computational thinking, and global competence.

Across the board, the conference echoed a sense of community-centric approaches, the importance of values, leveraging technology, and need for more training in instruction.

Overlapping the ALISE conference was the ALA conference, held in Denver. Usually about 8000 members and 450 vendors attend this conference. This is an “all business” conference, filled with committee meetings and awards selection. Nevertheless, well known authors and celebrities, such as Bill Nye, present to appreciative librarian audiences. This year a three-day symposium discussed the future of libraries (echoing ALISE’s academy). Some major themes of the conference included equity/diversity/inclusion, the “libraries transform” advocacy campaign, and newsworthy advances in the profession.

School librarians emphasized the new standards, literary awards, advocacy, technology, and technical services.

Undergirding these conferences are information networking and socializing. The weather may be cold, but the feelings are warm.

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