The ALA 12 Wrap-Up Post…Sort Of

I know, I know, I’m nearly a week late on this post. But I opted to stay in sunny Southern California a few days longer – my mom flew out and we stayed with my aunt and it was a delightful time.

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about.

The Conference.

Now, right up front, this will not be the post about the books I managed to snag at the conference. It’s nearly impossible for me to write that as most of them are probably somewhere south of me and north of most of you (read: Canada), in a box, on their way to my mailbox. And as much fun as it would be to watch me attempt to remember titles, authors and publishers – it’s probably not the smartest thing in the world. So that post is still coming.

It also won’t be an actual wrap-up post (hence the title). I’m hoping to do an actual one of those here in a bit. So what can this post be, you may ask. Well, it’s a wrap-up of an observation I made while at ALA that has been haunting me ever since.

As some of you know, by trade I am an academic librarian. This means big conferences like this are a bit odd for me to attend: half the time I’m attending sessions on Learning Styles, the other half, talking to publishers about their fave YA books coming out in the fall. Luckily, I really enjoy the opportunity of walking in both worlds. I like to think it gives me a unique perspective on my job, and on the undergrads (read: teens!) I work with on a daily basis. And vice versa on the reviewing side of things (and when I order for our YA collection). Public and School, specifically YA/Teen/High School/etc., librarians look at teens differently than academic librarians do and I find the contrast fascinating.

As the conference went on, I became more and more convinced there was something interesting to look at and study about this missed connection. So much so I’m afraid some (read: most) people were forced to listen to me muse about the topic over and over again. Sorry, to all those who had to sit through that. But it was like a light bulb went off last weekend.

When I attended that Learning Styles session I mentioned above, the main theme I got out of it was: people learn in different ways: do different things to accommodate everyone. Provide multiple ways of learning. Try new things. All important things to know if you’re teaching undergraduates about information literacy. Later, I happened to attend the fabulous presentation by Kelly and Jackie on Passive Programming and, interestingly, they made a point about programming that was nearly the same as the Learning Styles take-away: change things up. Teens like different things. Your programming will be draw more teens if it isn’t the same thing over and over.

I was blown away. This idea that I’ve always had – that undergraduate freshman are the Forgotten YAs (a totally dramatic and completely over-simplifying statement) – has always lived in the back of my mind as something to whine about when I want more popular fiction, more group study, less shushing in the library. But I realized that, for a few years at least, academic and YA librarians serve the exact same population. From different angles, sure, but the population is still the same!

I really started to speculate what other insights YA librarians could share with undergraduate librarians – what other areas do we overlap in? Is there anyway we could work together to serve these older YAs (or The New Adults as I’ve heard them called)?

I’m really not sure if there are practical – or even strong – yes or no answers to those questions. I’ll likely be doing some further research on the matter. But the point is, ALA – which accommodates a wide variety of librarian professions – was an excellent starting point to realizing there may be something there.

Which, I think is kind of the point of attending a huge conference like ALA. An academic librarian, like me, gets exposure to different ideas than in the normal, area-specific, tiny conferences we also attend. And we can take those ideas back and, hopefully, make good changes in our own libraries.

Like I said, I haven’t really delved into the research on this – maybe a zillion other people have made this connection already. But it’s something that might be worth pursuing? And that’s pretty awesome.

Like I said, real, event wrap-up to come (fair warning: most of this post will be gushing about the people I got to meet). As with the books I was lucky enough to get (so excited about Every Single One). And some reviews. Basically, after a few crazy months, I am back in action.

Hope all are well!

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One response to “The ALA 12 Wrap-Up Post…Sort Of

  1. Pingback: ALA For Realz | The Re-Shelf

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