Monday, July 13, 2009

ALA Conference - Part Two

My second day at the ALA Conference went much better than my first. I started out at the Hilton on Michigan Ave for the Amelia Bloomer breakfast. There were two great speakers. Sarah Bornstein spoke about her experiences as part of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. The second speaker was Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, Fever 1793, and more recently, Independent Dames and Chains. Independent Dames was chosen to be on the Amelia Bloomer Project 2009 book list.

Once I figured out how to get from the Hilton to McCormick place, I attended two seminars - one on evaluating audiobooks and one on reaching reluctant readers with non-fiction. I got a lot out of the audiobook seminar, even though I only stayed for the first half. I want to add audiobooks to my collection, but I don't know how to evaluate them. (Over the past two weeks, I've listened to four audio books and only really liked one of them - Bucking the Sarge. I also listened to Clementine's Letter, Criss Cross, and Small Steps)

After attending this seminar, I have even more reasons to add audio books to my collection and ideas about how to evaluate audiobooks. The women on the panel were members of the committee that chose this year's ALA Oyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production. They listed many reasons why audiobooks are good for kids and schools. (You can find the entire presentation on Mary Burkey's blog,

1. increase reading fluency
2. improve listening skills and listening stamina (See Mary Burkey's article on long form listening in the July 2009 issue Book Links, page 26)
3. increase reading comprehension4. enlarge vocabulary
5. support correct pronounciation of words (inflection, other languages, or archaic words)
6. support struggling readers and English language learners
7. expand literaracy experiences for proficient readers
8. improve standardized test scores

Audio books can increase the access kids have to books. In other words, more is better! It can also improve affect - or emotional ties to books. Kids who think books are fun will have increased confidence and love reading!

After the seminars, my next stop was "The Stacks." (See a picture on the dollfacedlibrarian's blog.) The Stacks is the exhibit area. Even though I was there for several hours, I only got through about a third of the exhibits. I learned a lot and picked up plenty of cataloges. I didn't win anything or get much free stuff, but that's ok. If a booth looked at all interesting, I went up to the sales person and said, "I've been a librarian for 10 days now. I don't know much - tell me about your product."

It was a learning experience for sure! I saw four fellow Dominican University GSLIS students, but no one else I recognized. Next time, I think it would be more fun to attend with a buddy AND to bring a lunch.

I saw my first playaway, left my address with companies selling reference books, and got great insight about wearing bifocals vs. having two sets of glasses from a very nice lady at the Mike Venezia booth.


  1. Pam,
    I agree with all of your reasons for wanting to add the audio books to the collection. Last year I decided to investigate this topic after some reading and contacted my Follett rep to get playaways for my school as a trial. She was really helpful and brought me 5 titles I knew we used at school in Lit classes and a few additional other titles for fun circulation. I talked them up with students and staff, explained we had them for a trial and wanted feedback and turned them out for student use. Some we openly circulated and others we gave to specific lit teachers to use with low readers for classroom novels that were in use at the time.

    My experience was that the kids that showed the most interest in participating in the trial and giving me feedback were at the 3rd-5th grade level. the MS could have cared less. The battery replacement issue was a real pain in the butt. Ultimately, we had lots of kids participate and very little favorable comments. The kids were just not impressed. I have to say it was not what I was expecting. I was planning to put a portion of my budget (audio/visual) toward purchases. The kids talked me out of it. They just didn't care to use them.
    I was glad I had gotten my Follett rep to loan me them for the trial before I spent the money on several (they are not cheep $20-50 averages per book). Ultimately, I sent them back with a thanks for the trial but we will not be purchasing at this time note. she was very cool about it.

    As for the conference, I think you are right, it was fun with a buddy. Instead of bringing a lunch we signed up for a great free lunch provided by EBSCO and it was terrific and didn't cost a dime!


  2. Hmm... I was hoping they'd be more popular! I didn't even think about asking for a trial from Follett. Thanks for the idea!