July 20, 2022

Connecting with our Community: ALA Annual 2022

Whether it was smiling faces from the Copyright Help Booth, roundtables about the future of ebooks, cheers of “it depends” echoing out of The Copyright Game, or conversations struck up at sessions on library organizing and advocacy-- whatever led you to run into the Library Futures team -- we want to say how great it was to see you at ALA Annual 2022!

Outside of the shift back to in person, the myriad of travel struggles, the ongoing pandemic, and of course, recent political events—I think we can agree ALA 2022 felt different this year. In talking with our community, there appears to be consensus on what ALA does well; ALA energizes and engages. These forces and the spaces they create draw colleagues back to ALA meetings year after year.  However, in such a turbulent and precarious time for libraries, three different “Es” come to mind when I reflect on where people indicated they felt ALA 2022 missed opportunities: 

  • Embracing issues within the profession
  • Encouraging advocacy
  • Equipping library staff to take on the challenges we all face

At the juncture of multiple critical points for libraries, it was a thrill to attend ALA as part of Library Futures. ALA provided an excellent space to connect with our community, identify critical gaps, and consider how we can build a new kind of movement for libraries in the digital realm.

Working with Library Freedom Project and Mijente on efforts such as #NoTechForICE, Library Futures used the conference to embrace and make space for difficult conversations. The #NoTechForICE flyering and billboard truck brought the message of ethical technology and vendor accountability to ALA attendees, connecting us with new partners and existing stakeholders to rally against threats to libraries and our patrons.

As we put the final touches on our draft ebook bill, released on June 30th,  we also had the opportunity to send representatives to Committee on Legislation, E-Book Interest Group, The Book Usage, Economics and Future, and other sessions to see where our colleagues and community were making progress, gaining attention, joining efforts, and sparking advocacy.  For this copyright librarian, the highlight of ALA 2022 was getting to sit at the Copyright Help Booth and talk with ALA at large. A professional dream come true, the most inspiring and vital opportunities in my current position revolve around education and equipping and empowering fellow advocates, which is fundamental to the Library Futures’ community both in principle and as a mechanism for coalition building. If you find yourself feeling like you missed out on some of the copyright fun, check out Library Futures’ Copyright Booth To-go! This resource, based on our partnership with the Copyright Legislation Education and Advocacy Network, provides answers to some of the most commonly asked questions from our booth at ALA. 

In sum, Library Futures is eager to work with our expanding community and to explore where we can work together to safeguard and empower libraries and our patrons. 

Interested in learning more about Library Futures and our charge for equitable access to knowledge in the service of the public good? Keep an eye on our website https://www.libraryfutures.net/ Twitter @Library_Futures, and Facebook to stay up to date on webinars, shared resources, news, and more!

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