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.