by Leah Hinds, Executive Director, Charleston Hub
Day Two: Sunday, January 29, 2023
The second day of LibLearnX ’23 dawned foggy with misty rain over the Mississippi River. I had a breakfast meeting planned at the Ruby Slipper Cafe with one of our wonderful Charleston Conference Directors that morning, but due to a 45 minute wait (after putting our names on the call-ahead seating list!) we walked to Cafe Beignet where we found the line stretching down the sidewalk. At this point, we’d been walking quite a while so we gave up and had breakfast at the hotel. New Orleans is serious about their Sunday Brunch game, y’all!
The ALA Presidential Program on the main stage was “Library Workers: Organize and Activate!” moderated by Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada (Adult Services Assistant Manager, Palos Verdes Library District, Rolling Hills Estates, California, and ALA 2022-2023 President) and Emily Drabinski (Critical Pedagogy Librarian at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and ALA 2022-2023 President-Elect). Panel members included K.C. Boyd (school librarian with the District of Columbia Public Schools System), Lesley Garrett (Library Associate II at Seattle Public Library as well as a Reference Assistant at Seattle Central College), Candice (Wing-yee) Mack (Young Adult Services Manager at the Los Angeles Public Library), and Elizabeth Martinez (former ALA Executive Director).
The roundtable discussion offered tips for how to be frontline activists defending intellectual freedom, the right to read, and equal access to information for everyone in our communities, and how to organize for for advocacy, fair wages, fair treatment, and more. “The ultimate goal is for us to make the biggest impact in the communities we live in.” said Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada.
Next I attended a Shoptalk titled “Unraveling the Chaos of Streaming Video” presented by Abigail Streeter, E-Resources Librarian at Stony Brook University. Historically, her institution used PDA’s, firm orders, and local hosting for access models. Streaming video usage soared in FY 2020-2021. Some problems they experienced were budget (unsustainably expensive, lacking usage assessment, and unfair distribution among departments), workflow (new ILS in 2019, staffing shortages, high volume of requests), and communication (email requests, subscription dates, expiration notices). Solutions reached included workflow improvements (found efficiencies in Alma ILS, used smart PDA and subscriptions, and made the E-Resources librarian the main point of contact for streaming video issues) and communication improvements (created Google Form to submit requests, catalog notes for subscription dates, and ILS notifications for expiring titles.
Up next was “Making Research Relatable: Using Popular Culture and Gamification Elements in Library Instruction” presented by Natalie Marquez and Danielle Kane (both of University of California, Irvine).
This presentation included specific resources and ways to use pop culture and gamification in instructional sessions, including examples and a list of resources. Fun examples included a Red Light/Green Light game based on Netflix’s Squid Games, mobile optimized scavenger hunts, virtual escape rooms, RPG story telling to walk through the steps of creating an annotated bibliography, and more.
Best-selling author Cory Doctorow took the LLX Studio stage to discuss his latest book Red Team Blues, available April 2023. Cory divided his talk into two halves: “Things that I’m worried about, and the book I wrote to deal with those feelings and anxiety.”
The thing he’s worried most about now is, “…what the hell is going on with technology.” Cory went on to detail the alarming practices of the big tech companies who dominate the net – Amazon, Facebook/Instagram/Meta, TikTok, and Twitter. His term for their business practices was “inshitification” (for which he apologized to the interpreter on stage) – when a platform is new and they need users, they treat them well and lure them in. Then they lure in supplies/content providers with high views, great usage stats, and promises of growth. Finally they move all of the benefits away from users and supplies to their shareholders, at which time the platform becomes “shit.”
The book he wrote to deal with his anxieties about all of this is Red Team Blues, a pulp fiction private eye-type thriller about cryptocurrency shenanigans whose main character is Marty Hench, a forensics accountant. “Nothing is scammier than cryptocurrency,” said Doctorow.
Wrapping up his talk, Doctorow choked up a bit and spoke passionately about the value of the library. “The library is the last place in the world where you’re welcome for being a human being and not a wad of cash in a wallet.”
The final session I attended was “Trends in Research Impact Librarianship” presented by Andrea Malone (University of Houston). A growing area of interest within the profession, Research Impact Librarianship is founded on bibliometrics and is an evolving field of scholarly communication. It addresses the need to quantify research impact for purposes including benchmarking, support for funding requests, promotion/tenure, and more. The University of Houston is a tier 1 research institution with over 47,000 students and 4,000 faculty and researchers. Malone advocated for the need for her position based on aspirations in the university’s strategic plan. Her first task was to conduct a needs assessment, then using the outcomes and data from the assessment she created a program plan. Her main limitations were capacity – she’s a “team of one” and can only do so much. Identifying both internal and external collaborators was crucial, as well as integrating with existing services.
Due to the NFC and AFC championship games going on that night, we stayed in and ate in the hotel lobby to watch with a crowd. Nothing notable, wings and appetizers, but the “Winter Spritz” cocktail was a refreshing treat! Gin, Apperol, and prosecco.
We’ll wrap things up tomorrow with day 3!