With the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, home to ALA headquarters, the Public Programs Office couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off a bit of our hometown cultural offerings.
Annual Conference 2009
Librarians are boldly going where no library has gone before in 2009. So said Frank Summers, astrophysicist and educator with the Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach (STScl), waking up a roomful of librarians with his excitement on a Sunday morning at the 2009 ALA Annual Conference. If you haven’t heard, 2009 has been declared the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009)—commemorating the 400th year of Galileo’s first observations through a telescope in 1609.
Picture this: a midnight Paul Revere ride to get the word out and bring the people together. Isn’t that what librarians try to do in their own way every day?
Zora Neale Hurston. Saul Bellow. John Cheever. Richard Wright. Studs Terkel. These are just a few of the thousands of unemployed writers put to work by the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). At the ALA Annual Conference, attendees gathered on Sunday afternoon for a special presentation of Soul of A People: Writing America’s Story, a documentary about the Federal Writers’ Project, created by Spark Media. The FWP was a branch of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the controversial program created by Franklin D.
What a great way to spend a Sunday morning—discussing the possibilities of poetry for libraries! This morning at Annual, we joined representatives from the ALA Public Programs Office, the Academy of American Poets, the Greensboro Public Library, and award-winning poet Jane Hirshfield for a discussion of best practices in poetry programming for public audiences.
As librarians, we tend to take for granted our love of reading. As we gather around our conference, lunch, and dinner tables our conversations often fall back on old favorites we recommend to a reluctant reader, new authors that are going to be the next big thing, and books that surprised our sensibilities or generated controversy. But what if we couldn’t have these conversations? For many adults and children living in our local communities, reading and discussing books is simply not part of their daily lives because of low literacy rates.
"My father couldn’t swim, but he walked out onto the ice when we wanted to skate to test it for us kids,” Sharon Robinson said as she concluded her portion of the PPO’s program, “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience.” Her father, Jackie Robinson, is undoubtedly one of the most influential names in American history, and his courage to step out into the uncharted racial waters, not knowing if he’d sink or swim, changed history forever.
As I look back on National Poetry Month each year, I resolve to retain some of the unexpected, joy-filled, and reflective moments I’ve encountered by stumbling upon so many poems in public, print, and cyber spaces throughout the month of April. It has been particularly useful for me as the ALA Public Programs Office prepares for the upcoming ALA Annual Conference and our planned spotlight on poetry.