The American Library Association
(ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world, holds two conferences each year: Annual, in late June; and Midwinter, toward the end of January. This year’s Midwinter Meeting was held in Philadelphia, PA from January 24 – 28. Sarah Walsh, Librarian at the Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences, attended the ALA Midwinter 2020 thanks to the Jaralyn L. Hough Fund.
These conferences offer professionals from public libraries, school libraries
, academic libraries and special libraries the opportunity to network, share ideas, get updated on best practices, and gain leadership and committee experience. Breakout sessions cover a wide variety of topics including research, programming successes, and current trends in librarianship. In the Exhibit Halls, conference attendees visit bookseller booths to preview new and upcoming books before they are available to the public, or discuss pricing and options with representatives from vendors of everything from research databases to supplies and furniture.
The highlight of ALA Midwinter is the Youth Media Awards
, celebrating the winners of the Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpré, and many others. Committees that have spent the previous year reading and evaluating hundreds of books announce their chosen winners and honor titles in fiction, nonfiction, children’s, teens and young adult literature. History was made in 2020, as a graphic novel received the Newbery Award
for the first time.
As an independent school
, Barnesville School has a great deal of freedom in developing its curriculum for the best interests of the students. But it also does not have the built-in structure and wider professional community that a typical school district would provide. Ms. Walsh firmly believes that conferences such as ALA Annual and ALA Midwinter help improve our school’s library program, and by extension the overall success of the school, because they allow her to broaden her perspective by connecting with and learning from a community of library professionals from all over the country.
Ms. Walsh is very grateful to have had this opportunity. As a stipulation of her attendance at ALA Midwinter being supported by Hough Fund money, she has shared her takeaways from the conference with the rest of the faculty and staff at Division Meetings.