Reflections on the ALA Annual Conference 2017

Would you like to hear about three presentations that Consultant Michelle Eberle found particularly interesting? Then, read on…

Imagining a World that Works: In Time to Prevent a World that Doesn’t

Presented by:  Bill McKibben – Middlebury College VT

In my opinion, climate change is the most urgent issue facing our world.  When I learned that Bill McKibben was speaking at ALA, I made sure to attend his presentation.  McKibben said he thinks that the root of the climate change debate is the battle between reason and greed. McKibben shared pictures of environmental activists participating in 350.org.  An attendee asked McKibben, “What can local libraries do to catalyze our communities?” He encouraged us to create opportunities for “people to be a part of something large” and “draw people together with a higher calling to get large conversations going.” McKibben urged every library to use solar energy.  When asked about what else he would like to see libraries share in non-traditional collections such as seed libraries, McKibben said “Why leave car sharing up to Uber?  Put your minds to it.  Come up with all kinds of stuff.” In his final thoughts, he expressed the immediacy to prevent exploration of new carbon and to spread renewable energy.

Fake News is not the Problem:  Addressing Issues with Information Consumption in a Digital Environment 

Presenter Brandy Horne, Instruction/Reference Librarian, University of South Carolina Aiken

Brandy Horne explained how information scent (what appeals to us) and information foraging (how we hunt for information) affect our information diet (what we consume).  She spoke about the change from “active seeking to passive consumer” and how our natural impulses are reinforced by our online search language.  Horne said that when we use the phrase “fake news” that we are “buying into the narrative,” while propaganda, disinformation, and lies are more accurate terms.  Horne advised us “to teach information literacy early and vigorously to young people.”  During the Q&A, one of the attendees expressed concern that we might not make an impact by teaching information literacy skills to children and teenagers, because their opinions are shaped by their family and suggested that we look towards the influence of economic and political motivations behind the news.

Life Hacks: Survival Skills for Teens

Presented by:  Kayla Marie Figard (Belmont Library); Elizabeth Tanner (County of Los Angeles Public Library); Erik Berman (San Jose Public Library)

Figard, Tanner, and Berman shared their experiences with creating programs to empower teens with essential life skills. The San Jose Public Library created a LifeSkills Academy for teens with programs on financial literacy, cooking on a budget, and moving into your first apartment.  The Belmont Library offered a series of programs on how to combat media inundation.  Through a $75,000 grant, the Los Angeles Public Library created an Adult 101, Life Skills Boot Camp for Teens, which included programs on etiquette, public speaking, finance, time management, and cyber-smarts. The presenters offered the following tips:  start with library staff to find presenters; then reach out to community partners; find the right time/date/location; ask to see outlines from guest speakers; spread out programming to increase attendance; and make it fun!

 

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