ATG Caught My Eye: Accounts from ALA Midwinter 2020, Philadelphia Jan 24th – 28th

by | Mar 18, 2020 | 0 comments

The City of Brotherly Love welcomed librarians, vendors and other library supporters with a few rain showers but relatively mild temperatures as they convened for the annual ALA Midwinter Conference. Unfortunately, attendance appears to have been a big disappointment – but that was no surprise given the uncertainty about Midwinter’s future. The Philadelphia Midwinter saw a grand total of 8089 attendees which was a 12% drop from the 9,211 attendees in Seattle, thought by many as a comeback for Midwinter. And those figures are even more sobering when compared with the nearly 12,000 attendees who came to Philadelphia the last time Midwinter was in town.

Regardless there were plenty of programs, meetings, and events focused on the key concerns and interests of the library community. So, as we have done in the past, we are providing readers a sense of this year’s ALA Midwinter by listing some relevant and interesting reports from a variety of perspectives.


  • #alamw20Once again American Libraries captures another ALA Midwinter Conference in their extensive blog coverage. As usual, there is some serious scrolling involved in getting a full sense of what happened but it’s well worth the effort. Reports include those on the celebrity keynote addresses as well as others on sessions covering topics ranging from virtual reality to privacy and from sustainability to free speech. And of course, there are reports on numerous award presentations, not to mention, the daily “Top Ten Tweets” and coverage of ALA’s three Council meetings.



  • American Library Association’s $2 Million Shortfall Prompts Demands for Transparency, Reform | ALA Midwinter 2020 is a report by Meredith Schwartz of Library Journal on some of the controversies that emerged at ALA Council’s Midwinter meetings. Topping the list was “how and why a shortfall of approximately two million dollars in operating funds occurred.”  Not far behind was Council’s decision to delay the long-planned major revamp of the association’s internal structure.  The first vote on the so-called “Forward Together” recommendations has been postponed until at least January 2021.



  • Top Tech Trends Focus on Privacy is American Libraries report on LITA’s popular annual Top Tech Trends session. However, for the first time the session had a theme: technology and patron privacy. Joining moderator Ida Joiner were panelists representing four different perspectives: Victoria Blackmer, from the Robert R. Jones Public Library in Coal Valley, Illinois; Marshall Breeding, independent library consultant; Elisandro Cabada, medical and bioengineering librarian at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Alison Macrina, founder and executive director of the Library Freedom Project.
    See also Library Journal’s report at: Privacy in Focus at Top Tech Trends Panel | ALA Midwinter 2020.


Additional reports on this session focused on Macmillan’s controversial decision include:

  • Macmillan CEO Talks to Librarians at ALA Midwinter is a report by Information Today’s Brandi Scardilli that also covers the hour-and-a-half session Macmillan Publishers’ CEO John Sargent conducted with librarians about Macmillan’s controversial new ebook-lending embargo. The article discusses library concerns, Macmillan perspective, and the authors’ point of view as well as issues including pricing versus availability and the search for new models. 


Individual Reports:

Sarah at ALA Midwinter 2020 – ZSR Library
Kathy S. at ALA MW 2020
NH ALA Councilor report from 2020 ALA Midwinter

And for those who want to know the latest in ALA governance, here are links to the ALA Council reports published by American Libraries

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