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.
- #alamw20 – Once 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.
- 2020 Midwinter Wrap-Up – Social justice and privacy issues dominated discussion in Philadelphia is American Libraries overview post covering key elements of the conference. In addition to the featured speakers, this post discusses the key themes running through the conference ranging from privacy to ebooks, and new technology to children and teen services. It also reports on various award winners and ALA Council matters.
- 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.
- OIF Examines Legal Issues for Library Social Media and First Amendment “Audits” | ALA Midwinter 2020 was “an early Saturday session at the American Library Association (ALA) 2020 Midwinter meeting, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) weighed in on several areas where libraries and their leaders and staff may have questions regarding their rights, offering resources for both public and academic libraries…”
- 2020 ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits – offering visions of hope is a press release from ALA News that besides noting a number of the featured speakers, discusses the Symposium on the Future of Libraries with its various sessions “exploring the near-term trends already inspiring innovation in libraries and the longer-term trends that will help libraries adapt to the needs of their communities…”
- 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.
- ALA Midwinter 2020: Macmillan CEO John Sargent, Librarians Spar Over E-book Embargo – is a detailed post by Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly. It focuses on the 90-minute “Ask Me Anything” session Macmillan CEO John Sargent held with librarians at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. During the session, Sargent tried “to defend the publisher’s unpopular eight-week embargo on new release e-books in libraries.” This is a comprehensive and thorough report with numerous links to relevant information.
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.
- Macmillan CEO Discusses Embargo, Alternate Licensing Models, in “AMA” | ALA Midwinter 2020 is Library Journal’s coverage of what reporter Matt Enis calls the “candid and occasionally contentious “Ask Me Anything” session” in which Macmillan CEO John Sargent discussed the publisher’s two-month embargo period for library ebooks, which went into effect on November 1.”
And for those who want to know the latest in ALA governance, here are links to the ALA Council reports published by American Libraries
- Council I Introduces New Executive Director
- Committee Reports and Resolutions at Council II
- Council III: Tributes, Memorials, and ALA Finances
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.