ALA 2017: Find the SLJ Team at These Sessions

Like kids in a candy store, conference attendees are making tough choices on which sessions to savor. Here, the SLJ team reveals what's on their short lists.

The American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago is coming up fast on Thursday, June 22 through Tuesday, June 27. Like kids in a candy store, conference attendees are making tough choices on which sessions to savor. Here, the SLJ team reveals which are on their short lists. The general consensus: if only there was time to attend everything!

Shelley Diaz, SLJ reviews manager:

As a first-time mom of a seven-month-old, I wish I could have the AAP on speed dial. And, just as I had fully lectured my family and friends on screen time around my little one, the AAP changes their recommendation! No Screen Time Under 2? Understanding the AAP’s New Recommendations about Screen Time and Young Children (Saturday, 8:30 a.m.) interests me not only on a personal level, but at a professional one. What are the best practices, and how do they affect libraries?

I’m also excited that I’m finally able to attend the Pura Belpré Awards Celebración (Sunday, 1 p.m.), and I’m super psyched to hear from Juana Medina and Raúl Gonzalez, ­winners of the 2017 Pura Belpré Medals. This is supposed to be a joyful event with music and performances, and its focus (books that celebrate the Latino experience) is close to my heart.

Last but certainly not least, YALSA President’s Program & Membership Meeting: Real Teens, Real Ready (Monday, 10:30 a.m.) is in my teen services wheelhouse, and I’m looking forward to YALSA president Sarah Hill’s presentation on her yearlong initiative. Sarah is one of our “Adult Books 4 Teens” columnists, and I’m interested in sharing what innovative and ­effective programs have been implemented in libraries to reach this important audience.

Daryl Grabarek, SLJ senior editor:

On Saturday morning at 10:30, there’s A Radical Interpretation of the New 2015 ALSC Competencies. I can’t resist anything with “radical” in the title, and this one promises “subversive suggestions…to meet the information and literacy needs of ­diverse children…while promoting social justice, inclusivity, and ­access.” However, you may find me darting between that session and wherever Sandra Uwiringiyimana, author of How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, is speaking.

Kathy Ishizuka, SLJ executive editor:

With a particular eye toward maker spaces, Not Just Capturing; Becoming the Librarian/Researcher Unicorn (Saturday, 3 p.m.) will address tools and techniques for measuring the ­success of this programming at libraries. Research will go a long way toward bolstering support for your program and ensuring sustainability. Maker is growing up.

Also, I haven’t attended Annual in a while, so I’m looking forward to being on the ground for Exploring AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.), a focused take on trends in web-based technology. Hope to see you there!

Rebecca T. Miller, SLJ editorial director:

Eager to find out how to give longer legs to all the effort you put into summer learning? Then 52 Weeks of Summer: Building Yearlong Sustainability from Summer Success (Saturday, 1 p.m.) will be worth checking out. Hear how Chicago Public Library, Museum of Science and Industry, and Seattle Public ­Library integrate the programming ideas into the school year; and jump into a group exercise on building sustainable partnerships to help these initiatives thrive.

Only 18 percent of low-income students are reading proficiently by the age of nine. This statistic, from the description for Public Libraries: Closing the Opportunity Gap for Early Literacy Success (Saturday, 3 p.m.), should get the attention of anyone interested in literacy and tune them in to how libraries are collaborating across type. Some of those ideas, and what was learned at an Urban Libraries Council forum, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will be shared during this program.

Uwiringiyimana photo by Dustin Cohen;
Brown photo by Danny Clark Photography

Kiera Parrott, SLJ reviews director:

I can’t wait to attend the Opening General Session featuring Reshma Saujani (Friday, 4 p.m). I’ve been a fan of Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, since hearing about the organization and watching her inspiring TED Talk, “Teach girls bravery, not perfection,” which encourages young women to ­innovate through trial and error. She’s also a special keynote speaker at SLJ Teen Live this August!

Luann Toth, SLJ managing editor, reviews:

The Boston Globe called Bill McKibben “probably America’s most important environmentalist,” and he’ll be leading the session Imagining a World That Works–In Time to Prevent a World That Doesn’t (Saturday, 1 p.m.). Despite the daily ­political dramas and crazy distractions we are deluged with, I believe that protecting the environment is the most important crisis we are facing. Framing the argument in practical terms might be the way to go to get traction on this timely topic.

John Trischitti III, director, Midland County (TX) Public Libraries and SLJ reviewer:

The program I am most looking forward to is Auditorium Speaker Series Featuring Brené Brown (Sunday, 8:30 a.m.). I had the opportunity to do a TED Talk this spring and have a newfound appreciation for what goes into them. Her TED is amazing. Outside of that, I’m looking forward to walking the exhibit hall. It’s a unique opportunity to do impactful, productive meetings with everyone you need under one roof!

Paula Willey, librarian at Baltimore (MD) County Public Library and SLJ reviewer:

I always go through the ALA Scheduler with a mixture of excitement and dread. I can’t wait to get my mind blown by the insights and great ideas shared by librarians from all over the country—but I can’t possibly physically attend all the things that pique my interest! But there is no way under the broad blue sky that I am going to miss Sound Learning and Diversity: Audiobooks as Advocates for Cultural Authenticity (Saturday, 1 p.m.) and Libraries are Not Neutral Spaces: Social Justice Advocacy in Librarianship (Sunday, 8:30 a.m.).

I am a huge audiobook booster, for traditional learners and perhaps more importantly, for kids with learning challenges. They’re also natural opportunities for family ­engagement. I can’t wait to hear what Thom Bartlemess and ­actor Dion Graham have to say about how they promote ­cultural authenticity.

And I expect Not Neutral Spaces to be a motivational shot in the arm, given the passion of panelists Karen Jensen, Debbie Reese, and Storytime Undergrounders Cory Eckert and Kendra Jones. Sparks are going to fly! Rabble is going to be roused! To the barricades!

Deirdre Winterhalter, digital learning librarian at Oak Park (IL) Public Library and SLJ reviewer:

I am looking forward to Women Aren’t Funny And Other Essential Untruths for Middle Grade Readers (Saturday, 3 p.m.); I want to see what Cece Bell and Rita Williams-Garcia have to say. I’m also looking forward to the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet (Sunday, 6 p.m.) because I’ve read the speeches but never attended the event.

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