ALA 2018: Session Picks from SLJ Editors and Other Attendees

Notable keynotes, panels, and events from this year's conference.

The 2018 American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference is in New Orleans this year from Thursday, June 21, through Tuesday, June 26. Former First Lady Michelle Obama, speaking at the conference opening general session on Friday afternoon, will be a huge draw. Beyond that, our editors and contributors have been earmarking their session selections—while some are also preparing their own presentations. Check out their top conference picks.

Betsy Bird, blogger, “A Fuse #8 Production”; collection development manager, ­Evanston (IL) Public Library Usually my interests at ALA meetings slot neatly into two categories: comics and collection development. This year, I’m adding some interesting reviewing and ebook panels. I’m looking forward to The Power of Book Reviews & Diverse Authorship (Saturday, 1 p.m.) presented by the forthcoming 2040 Review, a journal dedicated to reviewing a diverse authorship. I’ll also check out SimplyE and the Library-Developed Solution to Ebook Discovery and Patron Privacy (Sunday, 1 p.m.). Coming out of the New York Public Library, it’s promising a one-stop shopping app for ebook discovery over several platforms. I’ll be at Children’s Comics Crossing Continents (Sunday, 2:30 p.m.), moderated by your host, me!

K.C. Boyd, library media specialist, DC Public Schools; 2015 Library Journal Mover & Shaker Attending annual in New Orleans is very special for me, because my family is from New Orleans and I graduated from college in Baton Rouge. While I try to attend sessions directly aligned with the administration of my library, I enjoy ones providing the opportunity to learn and grow as a library practitioner. I’m especially looking forward to the Coretta Scott King (CSK) Awards Breakfast (Sunday, 7 a.m.), the Fake News or Free Speech: Is There a Right To Be Misinformed? (Saturday, 4 p.m.) and the Closing General Session (Tuesday, 10 a.m.) with Queen Viola Davis.

Shelley M. Diaz, reviews manager, SLJ On the heels of SLJ’s recent Teen Empowerment course and examples of young people standing up for their beliefs, I’m especially interested in YALSA’s President’s Program (Monday, 10:30 a.m.) on teen activism. Sandra Hughes-Hassell has long been a leader in this area and works with teens from marginalized communities. The IRRT Chair Program Libraries Saving Lives: Serving Immigrants and Refugees (Saturday, 1 p.m.) is also timely and relevant to all librarians.

Come by the Book Buzz stage on Saturday at 2:55 p.m. I will be moderating Scholastic Focus: Upcoming Nonfiction for Young Readers. Editors and authors will discuss their upcoming books that tackle complex subjects such as identiy and the struggle for racial justice.

I can’t wait for Native YA: Contemporary Indigenous Voices and Heroes for the 21st Century & Beyond (Saturday, 9 a.m.) and the ALSC Charlemae Rollins President’s Program: Considering All Children: A New Ideal in Evaluating and Engaging around Books for Youth (Monday, 1 p.m.).

Jonathan Hunt, lead coordinator of library media services, San Diego County Office of Education Maybe I’m biased since I chaired the 2018 Edwards committee, but I’ll be with the crowd at the Margaret A. Edwards (MAE) Award Brunch (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.). Who wouldn’t want to come listen to the popular author of Toning the Sweep, Heaven, and the First Part Last? At the ALSC Charlemae Rollins President’s Program, Edith Campbell will moderate the discussion with Jason Reynolds, Margarita Engle, Debbie Reese, and Ebony Thomas. Yes, please.

Sujei Lugo, children’s librarian, Boston ­Public Library, Connolly Branch I’m excited to start Sunday morning early with the CSK Awards Breakfast and the Pura Belpré Award Celebración (Sunday, 1 p.m.). It’s always great to be with my REFORMA family, celebrating books and literature dear to us, and it’s one of the few places at ALA that feels like home. This year’s Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet (Sunday, 6 p.m.) is special for me, because I served on the 2018 Newbery Committee. I’ll also be at the ALSC Charlemae Rollins President’s Program.

Rebecca T. Miller, editor in chief, SLJ In addition to the MAE Brunch, which SLJ is sponsoring, and Let’s Talk About Race with Kids (Saturday, 1 p.m.), I’m interested in What Every Librarian Should Know About Young News Consumers (Saturday, 1 p.m.), which promises findings about how students define and engage with news on social media and determine credibility. I’ll do my best to get to Pleasure Reading in School: Leveraging Enthusiasm for Pleasure Reading (Sunday 1 p.m.), about a San Jose high school’s reading initiative that won YALSA’s MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens.

Kiera Parrott, reviews director, SLJ I’m looking forward to the Leadership & ALSC meeting (Saturday, 8:30 a.m.). I’m hoping to hear an update about the Wilder Award survey that ALSC conducted, and the decision about whether to rename the award. I’m also interested in Compassionate Service: Promoting Dignity for Marginalized Patrons through a Holistic Approach (Saturday, 1 p.m.). As a former public librarian, this is close to my heart. Let’s Talk About Race with Kids is timely and important.

Liz Phipps Soeiro, librarian, Cambridge Public Schools, & 2017 SLJ Hero of Family Outreach I am a vocal and active librarian when it comes to social and racial justice for my students. I was thrown into a media circus this fall when I refused a gift from the White House. So Bullying, Trolling, and Doxxing, Oh My! Protecting our Advocacy and Public Discourse around Diversity and Social Justice (Saturday, 10:30 a.m.) really speaks to me. We cannot be silent.

Our profession is more than 80 percent white; it’s critical to examine the white gaze in our institutions and collections and the deleterious effect of biases. I’ll be in the audience for Whiteness in LIS: Tracing Its Impact, Mapping Resistance (Sunday, 10:30 a.m.) and Breaking Below the Surface of Racism, Whiteness, and Implicit Bias (Sunday, 2:30 p.m.). My students and I love the book Trombone Shorty. I’m so excited to tell them I saw Troy Andrews at the Annual Conference Welcome Celebration!

Melissa Thom, teacher librarian, Bristow Middle School, West Hartford, CT I can’t wait to hear Doris Kearns Goodwin speak at the Auditorium Speaker Series (Saturday, 8:30 a.m.).

I’m looking forward to Exploring AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning (Saturday, 1 p.m.) and AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.).

For four years, I’ve been working to make connections between my ­makerspace and the science curriculum (see p. 20). I’ll be at STEM-Centered Inquiry: Integrating Library Standards into Math and Science Classrooms (Saturday, 4 p.m.).

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