The American Library Association (ALA) had its annual conference this past weekend in Las Vegas. More than 18,000 librarians from across the United States and several foreign countries gathered for learning, networking, and seeing the latest and greatest from all types of vendors. Here are some of the things that I learned while at the conference.
RUSA Genealogy Pre-Conference
I was privileged to be a panelist at the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) genealogy pre-conference, sponsored by ProQuest. Kim Harrison, Senior Account Executive of the Ancestry Library Team; Michael Hall, Deputy Genealogy Officer at FamilySearch; Curt Witcher, Manager of the Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library, and I talked about free resources that librarians could utilize. (The presentation that Kim and I made is available on Slideshare.) I was also part of a panel discussion about current events and trends in the world of genealogy libraries. It was great to hear the perspectives and experiences that others were having in the realm of volunteers, collaboration, and working with youth.
Agreement with ProQuest
Brian Hansen, vice president of emerging businesses at Ancestry, and Simon Beale, senior vice president and general manager at ProQuest, announced a new multi-year agreement. ProQuest will be distributor of both existing products, including Ancestry Library Edition, and future Ancestry products. The agreement also allows for significant content and feature improvements to ProQuest’s HeritageQuest Online. These enhancements will be developed in the coming months and powered by Ancestry.
History Section Award
Every year, the History Section of RUSA grants an award to someone “in recognition of their professional achievement in historical or genealogical reference, service or research.” This year’s winner was Bill Forsyth of ProQuest. Bill has worked in the genealogy library field for several years and has worked hard to promote and advance genealogical librarianship. (And those of us who have the pleasure of knowing him know that he’s an incredibly nice guy!) Congratulations, Bill!
No matter what session I went to, the themes seemed to be “story” and “collaboration.” (Sounds like genealogy!) Whether it was libraries working together to bring related collections online or organizations using crowdsourcing to index and transcribe records, it was obvious that more and bigger things get done when people work together. (Again, just like genealogy!)
One session I went to was about Preservation Week, which is observed annually in late April and highlights what individuals can do to preserve their own treasures. Jeanne Drewes of the Library of Congress spoke about the importance of preservation and shared a quote from a participant at a preservation event. It was one that I think many of us can relate to:
“I can’t throw away this coffee cup. It was my grandmother’s and it holds her memory.”
The wonderful thing about librarians is that they may not have the answer, but they know where to find it… even if it’s how to preserve Grandma’s memory in a coffee cup.