Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Midwinter Tales

While I attended the ALA Annual Conference in D.C. this summer, I was busy working the Simmons booth and balancing my girlfriend's first visit to our nation's capital, so (while I had an AMAZING time) I didn't feel as though I had the full conference experience. This time was completely different! I was able to attend panels and discussions that spanned all of my library related interests, while still spending time with friends and family, as well as partaking in some delicious Philly food! 

I kicked off the conference by attending "Making Real Change: Moving Beyond the Interpersonal to Create Actual Diverse, Inclusive and Equitable Environments for Both Library Users and Employees." I was a bit hesitant when the presenters did not appear to be POC, but I was put at ease when the presenters stated that they felt more white people should be putting in the work to combat white supremacy and oppression in LIS, instead of placing the onus on people of color. The section relied largely on discussion in small groups, so it was exciting to hear from the librarians from Arkansas, Maryland, and Illinois who were seated at my table. There was also a shout out to the Beatley Library Anti-Oppression LibGuide during the slideshow, which was very cool to see! Go Simmons! 

A quirky little aspect of Midwinter were these Short Story Dispensers! They brightened up my day any time I had a few minutes to spare between panels. You select how long you want to devote to reading (1, 3, or 5 minutes), press a button, and the machine prints you a story that resembles a CVS receipt. Here you can see a silly selfie and me reading Trampoline on the exhibit hall floor. 


On the POPTOP Stage, I was able to catch the majority of "Write Her Story: Re(Shaping) Feminist Narratives in YA Literature," featuring Samira Ahmed, Kim Liggett, and Abigail Hing Wen. All of these authors were new to me, so it was fabulous to hear them discuss their writing processes, inspirations, cultural backgrounds, and role models. 


A surprise standout panel for me was "Food Literacy for Families, Libraries, and Communities: South Carolina Read Eat Grow." The two librarians from the South Carolina State Library talked about bringing a mobile cooking station to libraries around the state, promoting food literacy, and teaching people of all ages and abilities how to cook. They also had these BEAUTIFUL little recipe cards that they handed out which detailed the steps to starting a food literacy program at your own library! I cannot recommend looking into their program enough


The final session that I sat in on was "Metadata Instruction Mobilizing and Human Rights Research in the Undergraduate Classroom." While the title might seem a little clunky, this talk was amazing! Undergrads studying history at the University of Alabama conducted original research looking into and documenting cases of lynchings throughout counties surrounding the school. The students were given a crash course in metadata and then set off to compile a digital humanities exhibition. 

One of the sections I attended on "Navigating Queer Realities in School Libraries" introduced me to one of my new favorite book-related comics by Grant Snider called "Books Art..." while discussing why diversity in books benefits everyone (and can even save lives). I also ran into my friend Aleks from high school, who recently finished her MLIS at Rutgers! The perks of Midwinter being 15 minutes from my hometown! 


I must admit that I got a little weepy during the "Not-Quite-Banned: Combating The Invisible Censorship of LGBTQIA+ Stories" panel, hearing authors describe the dismissal or vitriol they experienced due to the LGBTQIA+ content of their books. 

I was good and only left ALA with ONE SINGULAR BOOK from Orca Press -- and it wasn't even for me! My brother reaped the benefits, getting a fun new hockey read. I was excited to see Second Story Press next to Orca. It was lovely to browse their selections which (as you can see in the photo above) focus on "strong female characters, diversity, social justice, and children's empowerment." I also had a lovely chat at a booth for a publishing house that focuses on teaching children emotional intelligence through books!