From the President: ALCTS at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans

New Orleans goes by many names including the Big Easy, the Crescent City, and NOLA. Well known for its food, jazz, and annual Mardi Gras carnival, the city holds a special place in America’s cultural landscape, and this is a special year for New Orleans as the city turns 300. Having grown up in Louisiana and lived in New Orleans, I always enjoy returning to the city. This year I am especially looking forward to the 2018 ALA Annual Conference and the ALCTS President’s Program. James Beard Foundation award winner Michael W. Twitty, author of “The Cooking Gene,” a 2017 HarperCollins publication, will be our guest speaker. His talk “Dining from a Haunted Plate” will be held on Monday, June 25, at 10:30 a.m.

Sequined ALCTS hat, coins, and beads arranged on top of a Mardi Gras flag
When in New Orleans, ALCTS embraces the carnivalesque spirit of Mardi Gras. Photo by Mary Beth Thomson.

Twitty will be discussing his journey to uncover the history of Southern food in his own family, in particular:

his search through the lens of extensive research at libraries and archives and plantations across the South and how he translated that journey into food through museum education and historic interpretation. In tracing his family roots through food from enslavement to emancipation, from West and Central Africa to the Old South, his work invites all Southerners of all backgrounds to a complicated, uncomfortable groaning table rich in heritage and tradition in which new conversations and connections emerge.

Twitty is a noted culinary and cultural historian and the creator of Afroculinaria, the first blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacies. I hope you’ll join me for what is going to be a very special presentation. Did I mention HarperCollins Publishers will be giving away a limited number of Twitty’s books?

Also, don’t forget about the ALCTS Awards Ceremony, which will be held on Saturday, June 23, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Come celebrate with this year’s award recipients, their friends, and family. The Award Ceremony is a special time when we stop and recognize the work and successes of our friends and colleagues.

ALCTS 101, co-hosted by the ALCTS Membership Committee and the ALCTS New Members Interest Group and held on Friday night of the conference, provides you with an opportunity to visit with current ALCTS members and meet others who are new to ALCTS. Representatives from ALCTS sections will be there to talk with you and answer your questions. This is just one of many face-to-face networking opportunities during the conference. If you’re going to attend Annual in New Orleans please plan on stopping by ALCTS 101 on Friday, June 22, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Come for ALCTS 101, and stay for the after party, ALCTS 102!

Your ALCTS division and section officers, committee, and award jury members have been busy with the work of the association and with the policies and issues important to our work. During the last few months Advocacy and Policy Committee members have been monitoring and sharing about the progress of several issues including net neutrality, the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Modernization Act, and the Marrakesh Treaty.

The Preservation and Reformatting Section (PARS) continued to advocate for preservation of materials during this year’s Preservation Week held from April 22 to 28, 2018. The theme of this year’s Preservation Week was cooking and community archiving. Michael W. Twitty served as Honorary Chair, appeared in Preservation Week artwork, and participated through various social media networks. This year’s Preservation in Action initiative is being held at Preservation Hall in New Orleans. My thanks to all of our Preservation Week sponsors.

The Acquisitions Section (AS) Education Committee’s “Core Competencies for Acquisitions Professionals” document was recently endorsed by the ALCTS Board. The document “outlines competencies that are needed across the span of an individual’s professional career to perform acquisitions functions.”

Shortly after the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting I posted a message concerning the ALCTS Board’s discussion of the “Working Document Exploration of Integration and Realignment Opportunities for ALCTS, LITA, and LLAMA,” and the ALCTS/LLAMA/LITA Alignment site on ALA Connect developed as a central communication hub for this ongoing discussion. Since then we’ve moved forward with implementing a number of initial steps to gather additional information. The ALCTS/LITA/LLAMA Alignment Steering Committee appointed a joint Budget and Finances Working Group and a Communications Working Group. In April the three divisions asked members to complete an online survey so we could learn more about your jobs, work environment, and professional interests as well as gather your initial feedback concerning the possibility of ALCTS, LITA, and LLAMA creating a single new division. We had 1,101 respondents to the survey with 545 identifying as ALCTS members. Thank you for your responses and for all of your thoughtful comments.

Before and during Annual, the ALCTS Board will be reviewing a preliminary report from the Budget and Finances Working Group on the financial feasibility of a new division, a high-level summary of the member survey results, a proposed project plan for developing a new division, as well as information from the Communications Working Group concerning member input. As this initial information becomes available, it will be posted to the ALCTS/LLAMA/LITA Alignment site on ALA Connect and included in ALCTS Board documents, which are open to all members.

I encourage each of you to review the documents and to post your comments or questions. I’m looking forward to our discussions in New Orleans and hope to see many of you there.

If you have a question about ALCTS or idea you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

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