Pop Culture in Libraries – ALA 2011

I was able to attend my second ALA Annual Conference this week. After last year’s first-time experience, I attacked this year’s conference very differently. I didn’t try to do it all. I attended things that I was interested in and tried to talk to as many people as I could. Although, none of the recruiters in attendance were looking for any entry-level positions, I learned quite a bit from talking with them.

One of the best things I attended was actually a discussion group on Pop Culture and Libraries. This was sponsored by ACRL but their was quite a mix from both public and academic. It was great to be in a room with a bunch of librarians who loved pop culture and shared their experiences of the advancement of pop culture in their institutions. We discussed a variety of topics from gaming in libraries to the lending of eReaders. Also, many new services were discussed like HuluPlus, NBC Learn, and the on-demand DVDs from MGM Studios.  A librarian from Sacramento Public Library talked about the steps taken at her library to be able to lend Nook eReaders to patrons. They have 12 devices that were pre-loaded with various titles and were divided by genre; for example, a patron could check out a device with just thrillers on it. Early indications that the program has been successful.

An issue came up in this group that really intrigued me. We started discussing media formats. Should librarians weed old formats like VHS tapes or laser discs? But what about the recent vinyl renaissance? It is an interesting question and it depends on one’s institution’s storage capabilities. From my experience in the public library, older formats will get weeded to make room for the newer formats. But, I could see in a university, especially one with film or music students, where a library might be inclined to hold onto VHS and vinyl records. Additionally, the library would also have to have the equipment to play these older formats. Some librarians in the discussion said they had invested in turntables with USB for digital conversion.

I am sure the group assembled could have continued on these topics and more. However, it began a dialog concerning the place of pop culture in libraries. I am hoping this group continues to meet and discuss these important issues. I strongly believe that pop culture should be preserved in our nation’s libraries as it speaks so much to who we are as a society. I hope to continue in this group virtually via their discussion list and hopefully future face-to-face meetings.

About Theresa

I am a reference librarian currently working in North Carolina. I have always been passionate about history, education and the value of books in all of their forms. I also love how quickly we can access information through the immediacy of the web, especially social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I look forward to growing in my chosen profession.
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2 Responses to Pop Culture in Libraries – ALA 2011

  1. Norman Cohen says:

    Hi Theresa,

    I am a producer for NBC Learn, and I was with a group of exhibitors at ALA. We were so happy to get a good mention at the “Pop Culture and Libraries” panel — so many people came by our booth at ALA to mention that they had heard about us there. I think your readers would be interested in your take NBC Learn, and I’m inviting you to take a 30-day free trial if you’d like to check it out: http://www.nbclearn.com/_portal/site/learn/freetrial

    NBC Learn contains over 11,000 videos from the NBC Archives, current events, and original productions that are correlated to state standards in Grades K-12 and operate in standard College Level LMSes like Blackboard.

    If you want to see how colleges and universities are using NBC Learn. I’ll direct you to this video that was made by Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan, showcasing various instructors and how they’re using our resource in the Blackboard environment. GRCC made this video themselves, and we’re proud to carry it on our NBC Learn website here: http://www.grcc.edu/nbclearn

    We had a full review in School Library Journal earlier this year — check it out:


    If you have any questions for us, please contact me at norman.cohen@nbcuni.com



    • Theresa says:

      Thanks for your comments! Sounds like a great program but not really in our budget or collection focus. Great for colleges and universities though.

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