5 Takeaways from ALA Midwinter
Every time I travel to a conference for OverDrive, I am blown away by the passion that the library community exudes. Being a librarian is more than just a job; it’s being passionate about users, their needs and making sure everyone has the ability to get the materials they need. They are a tireless bunch who won’t let a record snowstorm keep them from coming together to make sure their communities continue to move forward and strive for more. Now that I’m finally back in the office after a comical travel situation (I’ll spare the details but let’s just say John Candy and Steve Martin would’ve appreciated it), lets dive into five takeaways from this year’s ALA Midwinter Meeting:
1) Equality matters: In every sense of the word, librarians strive for equality. They want authors of every nationality and background to have a platform to be heard. It is essential that diverse collections of titles be made available for patrons to access. They also continue to believe that reading materials should be accessible for every member of the community regardless of age, background or upbringing.
2) Ease of use matters: Librarians strive to make sure they can assist everyone who walks through their doors, be they a digital native or someone who has just purchased their first-ever e-reading device. With so many devices out there, it’s essential to librarians that the process of using these devices to access their resources be as easy as possible. While demoing OverDrive Read (our browser based reading option), streaming video and instant audiobooks (coming soon), I heard from countless librarians how much they appreciated the ability for their patrons to simply start using these materials right from their OverDrive website. Regardless of how easy an app is to use, it will always be easier to simply see a title and start enjoying it, and this saves librarians countless hours troubleshooting devices they may have never used before.
3) LeVar Burton remains awesome: One of the many highlights of the speaking sessions at ALAMW15 was Reading Rainbow and Star Trek legend, LeVar Burton. LeVar regaled the crowd with stories of the importance of reading. He stated that he believes his love of reading came because, “My mother not only read to me, but in front of me as well.” You can pass on a passion for reading simply by showing your passion. He also reiterated the essential importance of libraries when he stated, “Libraries do one thing that no other institution does and that’s provide access to all.”
4) Librarians use libraries too! Something that truly speaks to the fact that being a librarian is more than just a job is the fact that librarians are truly the power users of libraries themselves. It is because of this that we proudly say that librarians (including those on our staff) are the best people to ask when looking for a book recommendation. In fact, there’s a little slogan I’ve started saying around the office: The best book recommendation engine in the world is librarians!
5) Winter storms are no match for the power of librarians: While giving a presentation on what’s new and coming soon from OverDrive, I thanked the librarians for toughing out the massive snowstorm to join us. One of them simply replied, “We’ve dealt with budget cuts, layoffs and people saying libraries are dying and yet we’re still here. A little snow won’t slow us down.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the greatest collection of people in the world: librarians.
Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist and is, frankly, sick of snow right now