Archive for the ‘ALA Initiatives’ Category

ALA Happy Mutants rejoice – Library Boing Boing is coming!

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

I can no longer contain my happy mutant self – I can finally announce a new ALA member interest group called Library Boing Boing. It’s a new group full of awesome and win and triple rainbows (yeah, we’re one-upping everything). But what exactly is LBB, you ask?

On the one hand, Library Boing Boing is a collaboration between ALA and the fabulously amazing Boing Boing folks to highlight all of the great new things libraries are doing. The most visible result will be regular posts about those great new things on the Boing Boing site itself.

On the other hand, Library Boing Boing: The Group has its own goals to help happy mutants in local communities connect with their happy mutant librarians to do good, work together on our shared interests, and make the world more better. Here’s the official mission and goals for the group, as noted on the petition that LBB co-convener Jason Griffey submitted to ALA today.


To bring librarians and Boing Boing readers (aka, Happy Mutants) together to generate support for and raise interest in libraries via projects at local libraries.


  • Help find and propose content about libraries that could be posted to Boing Boing.
  • Provide active ways for Happy Mutants to support and get involved with their local libraries (eg, toolkits, best practices, ideas for local projects).
  • Create dynamic programming at library conferences that Library Boing Boingers can then take outside of the library community to promote libraries (eg, SxSW, local community events, etc.).
  • Work together to help Happy Mutants advance our shared interests (eg, copyright reform, net neutrality, game culture, digital divide issues, open government, etc.).
  • Coordinate an international community of librarians working with their own Happy Mutant groups.

So how do we make this happen? Right now there’s a petition that any ALA member can sign to formally establish the Library Boing Boing Member Interest Group at the 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting. Go sign now, because we need 100 signatures to #makeithappen. In Dallas, the ALA Committee on Organization (COO) will review the request and if they endorse it, it will go to ALA Council for final approval.

Then go join the Library Boing Boing community in ALA Connect where we’ll discuss all of the great things the group can do and start planning how to implement them when the group is officially official.

Start dreaming big. What could a dedicated, motivated, inspired group of librarians do with both Boing Boing and their own local happy mutants? How can we spread Library Boing Boing goodness throughout the profession? I’m thinking of things like LBB Kickstarter and getting the first librarian speaker at TED (hopefully just the first of many). LBBers could also host local Boing Boing meetups at their libraries, and the LBB group could create a toolkit interested libraries can use to get started holding their own meetups.

And if you’re coming to Midwinter, save your Sunday evening for the Library Boing Boing #alamw12 Meetup (details TBD soon).

Needless to say I’m pretty excited about this project. The co-conveners for the Library Boing Boing member interest group are Andrea Davis, Jason Griffey, and Patrick Sweeney. I’ll be a staff liaison, along with Tina Coleman. All that’s missing is you. We’ll be posting more details in the community, but we need your help to get the ball rolling. Sign the petition, join the community, and roll up your sleeves, because we have a lot of great work to do together.

MentorConnect on the Launchpad

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Update: MentorConnect is now live – go to your Connect profile and give it a try!

We’re excited to announce that next week, we plan to launch a new service within ALA Connect called MentorConnect. Now that we’ve finished phase one for the site (collaborative work space, profiles with networking, and offering the ability to create communities that live outside of ALA’s hierarchy), we’re focusing on implementing two new services aimed at members who want to get involved professionally, but not necessarily at the committee level.

The first of those projects is MentorConnect (“MC”), a service that allows ALA members to create mentoring profiles that highlight their expertise and experience. After they’ve joined MC, any ALA member can search for a mentor using a variety of criteria (gender, type of library, ethnicity, etc.) and request mentorship. Once created, the mentorship is tracked within MC, with a space for providing and archiving feedback. The system will even prompt you every few months to make sure you’re staying in touch.

ALA Connect's MentorConnect service

Here are some screenshots that show some of the features. This first one is an example of a mentee profile. Mentor profiles look pretty much the same.

a mentee's profile in ALA Connect's MentorConnect service

Once you’ve created a profile, you can then search for a mentor.

find a mentor in ALA Connect's MentorConnect service

MC keeps a record of all of your mentors and mentees, including past ones.

my mentors view in ALA Connect's MentorConnect service

At any time, you can view the feedback for a particular mentorship. When you add new feedback, the other person will get an email notice, and she can log in and reply.

a mentorship in ALA Connect's MentorConnect service

The MentorConnect tab will appear on your profile next week, along with a link to it in the left-hand sidebar. If you don’t like something about MC or if you encounter a problem using it, please let us know. If you do like it, let former ALA President Jim Rettig know, because he funded this initiative during his term. Thanks, Jim!  🙂

ALA Connect Update and Schedule

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

If you’re an ALA member, you should have received an email about ALA Connect yesterday. We’ve been doing PR for the site through other channels (American Libraries, AL Direct, etc.), but this was the first time we’ve directly contacted members. Initial responses have been positive, and according to Google Analytics, we had more than 2,200 people visit the site yesterday alone.

So today seems like a good time to do an update on statistics and to talk about Connect’s immediate future a little bit. First, some new, aggregate numbers for April 6 – June 16 (roughly 10 weeks).

  • Total # of users who have logged in: 3610 (3196 ALA members + 414 non-ALA members)
  • Total # of posts: 406
  • Total # of online documents: 265
  • Total # of calendar events: 162
  • Total # of polls/votes: 25
  • Total # of discussions (in forums): 143
  • Total # of images: 19
  • Total # of comments: 761
  • Total # of new communities created: 81

So usage is consistent and steady, and we’re not seeing a major drop-off, which is a good sign. Now that we’ve let everyone know about the site in as direct a way as possible, we’ll continue watching these numbers. The Google Analytics chart below suggests even greater usage since it’s for only an eight-day period.

April 6 - June 16 stats for ALA Connect

Now that we feel like we’re through the official launch phase, we’re moving on to the next big thing for Connect. We’re currently migrating from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6, and we hope to go live (seamlessly) with the new version after our Annual Conference. Then the “really big plans” kick in.

We’ve worked with ALA President Jim Rettig to implement two exciting  initiatives from his campaign. We plan to integrate a mentoring network by the end of July and an “opportunities exchange” by the end of August (think grants, volunteering, fellowships, awards, etc.). After that, we’ll be implementing a new search engine and then the new conference event planner for Midwinter 2010.

It’s a pretty packed year for Connect, and your feedback will be critical as we implement all of this. Let us know what you think!

Increasing Usage of ALA Connect

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Last month, I highlighted some early statistics about ALA Connect, and while I would hardly call the middle of May “late,” I thought I’d post an update on those numbers. We won’t keep loading up your stream with Connect statistics, although we do hope to see usage increase leading up to, and after, ALA Annual Conference in July. Until then, here are some aggregate figures for the site’s first five weeks.

  • Total # of logins: 2,220 (1,950 ALA members + 270 non-members)
  • Total # of posts: 243
  • Total # of online documents: 210
  • Total # of calendar events: 181
  • Total # of polls/votes: 22
  • Total # of discussions (in forums): 66
  • Total # of images: 29
  • Total # of comments: 479
  • Total # of member-generated communities: 40

There’s also been a lively discussion about Connect on the ALA Council mailing list for the last few days. If you’re interested in reading some councilors thoughts on using (or not using) Connect, go to the May 2009 archive and start with May 8 (09/05/08 in the list).

Some other views of Connect: ALA Connect: The Mother Ship Evolves from School Library Journal and Why We Should Adopt ALAConnect: A brief review and rumination on ALA’s new online community from In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

The ItLwtLP site also has an interesting post from October 15, 2008, titled On the ALA Membership Pyramid. It has 43 comments on it, which contain some truly interesting ideas for ALA. If you’re one of the 2,000+ people who has logged in to Connect, I’m curious to know if you think it can fulfill some of the points made in the comments? It can’t solve all of them, but how can we take the advice from both ItLwtLP posts to make Connect work for those “level 1” members who aren’t part of committees and who aren’t able to/don’t want to come to conferences?

Have You Connect-ed Yet?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Just a quick note to say how happy we are about the response to ALA Connect. We’ve received many positive emails, tweets, and more about the site, but even better – folks are checking it out and using it. This can be difficult to see, as many working groups are not posting their content publicly, but we’re only a couple of weeks into this new endeavor, so we expect content in the working groups and communities will continue to grow, especially going into Annual Conference.

Here are some early numbers from the site’s first two weeks:

  • 1588 people have logged in (1395 ALA members + 193 non-ALA members)
  • # of new communities created by ALA members and staff: 22
  • # of posts: 124 total
  • # of online documents: 124 total
  • # of calendar events: 125 total
  • # of polls/votes: 14 total
  • # of discussions: 32 total
  • # of images: 24 total

So stuff is happening on the site – what’s happening in your groups?

Welcome, ALA Connect and Greater Privacy Options

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

I’m late announcing it here, but the official pronouncements are popping up everywhere else – ALA Connect is finally live! I feel a little like Dr. Frankenstein – it’s aliiiiiive – but so far the patient is doing quite well. Even though we’ve been gamma testing for the past three weeks, we officially launched the site on Monday (April 6) with a virtual bottle of champagne across the virtual bow.

I won’t go into detail about what Connect is in this post because there’s a lot about it here, including a Roadmap for future development. If you’re the explorer type, you can skip this post altogether and go play for yourself – just head over to and log in using your ALA website username and password. If you’re not sure what those are, you can find them here.

We’ve worked very hard to provide members with a more robust level of privacy options than they’ve ever had before on both sides of the scale. If you want to be more open about displaying your ALA information, you can display your entire profile publicly. This isn’t the default, but if you’re the 2.0 type who wants everyone to know about the great work you do for ALA, you can toggle this option in your profile to display those affiliations publicly.

If you’re the kind of person who’s worried about sharing too much online, we’ve got you covered, too. In the current member directory on the ALA website (which will be going away in the near future), you can’t hide any of your affiliations – everything is there for other members to see. However, in Connect, you can actually opt out of displaying all non-committee affiliations on your profile. You can choose on a group-by-group basis to hide your affiliation with a community, division, round table, or section. For what we hope are fairly obvious reasons, you can’t hide your participation on an official committee. For more information and instructions about how to do this, read the FAQ about Privacy in ALA Connect.

So here’s a quick overview of how privacy works in ALA Connect.

  • The public sees only your name.
  • Other ALA members see your name, institutional affiliation, and ALA affiliations.
  • You can add more information about yourself, like a short bio, your interests, your job description, links to your blog/Flickrstream/etc., and more. If you don’t fill these things out, though, no expanded information appears on your profile.
  • You can choose to display your profile (minus your contact information) to the world. Add it to your signature file, put the link on a resume, or link to it from your blog.
  • Other ALA members you manually make part of your network see all of the above plus your contact information.

If none of these options appeal to you, you can log in to the ALA website and exclude yourself from the member directory, which will remove you from ALA Connect altogether. Be aware that this means you won’t be able to log in to Connect at all, although this doesn’t affect any other part of your membership or website access.

The exclusion options are also completely separate from your communication preferences, which control how much snail mail and email you receive from ALA. We’ve again tried to err on the side of conservatism while providing members with options, so by default, you won’t receive email from any of your ALA groups unless you log in to Connect and manually turn on email notices. Even better, you can do this on a group-by-group basis. So if you’re on a committee or other official ALA working group, you can turn on email from that group but not from other ones.

So consider this an important heads-up to read about how to set your email preferences in ALA Connect, too.

Please let us know if you have questions about any of this. We’re very excited about this new service and its future!

Conversations at ALA

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Active participation in the conversations that keep an association “live” have a long history at ALA. After all, “conversation” is an association “c” — along with continuity, context and community. There are approximately 5,000 people in “official” committee and board positions (i.e. listed in the ALA Handbook of Organization). That’s a good number — but there are more, many more, involved in discussion groups and interest groups (both face-to-face and electronic). Over the last few years, ALA “participation” has become increasingly varied and diverse.

Preparing to contribute to a couple of panel discussions on online communities and social networking at DigitalNow, I realized my current sense of the volume of social network and online community activity at ALA was “lots” and “more” — generally correct, but hardly specific. So, I went in search of some data. Here’s what I found — and it represents an impressive contribution from both members and staff. As of about April 22, 2008, ALA’s “footprint” in the worlds of social networking and online communities looked like this:

There were 2,671 participants in ALA’s Facebook group as of April 18 — with about 15 more joining the group every day. Four divisions and four round tables had groups in Facebook. There are ALA Students Chapters in Facebook, as is the Office for Intellectual Freedom. The Freedom to Read Foundation has a group in Facebook — with 146 members after one month — and is beginning to raise money in Facebook.

In Second Life, ALA’s National Library Week 2008 events attracted 2800 visits from around the globe (plus staff visits). ALA president Loriene Roy spoke in Second Life. AASL’s Doug Johnson gave a presentation, as did Jenny Levine (on gaming in libraries). YALSA streamed podcasts. The many contributions of Lori Bell (Alliance Library System) to ALA in Second Life were recognized. After the Banned Books Week events in Second Life, ALA had 89 people in its ALA SL Notification group; that number is now 245. (And there’s also an ALA Member Initiative Group: Virtual Communities and Libraries — which held its first face-to-face meeting at the Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.) To teleport to the ALA Island/ALA Main Stage, go to: . Also, Valerie Hawkins in the ALA Library has prepared an extensive guide to SL, at .

On Ning, current statistics show 357 members (most, but not all, ALA members) in an ALA-labeled group in Ning. See . YALSA also has a Ning site for student members. There are other library-related, but not ALA-specific, groups in Ning, too — e.g. Second Life Librarians.

About a year ago, I asked how many blogs and wikis had been developed in “ALA space.” The answer then? More than 30 of each — and growing. The answer now? There are 70 blogs and 125 wikis that we know of — and still growing. Most of these can be accessed through the ReadWriteConnect link on the ALA home page.

Looking at “old” social networking technology, ALA has 948 active email discussion lists on Sympa (1095, counting inactive lists with available archives). There is no up-to-date count on the number of ALA email lists (lists using the name of ALA or one of its component groups) on external servers, such as campus servers. How many people participate on those lists? That, I don’t know — but we’ll add it to the list of “counting” tasks.

Several years ago, ALA implemented an Online Communities platform using DotNetNuke. There are 281 “online communities” currently. Implementation of a range of new online community/social networking features (“ALA Connect”) using Drupal, an open source platform, is underway — but that’s a future post.

Looking at social media, American Libraries‘ series of short videos for National Library Week 2008 received 78,400 views. The single most popular video in the series (The Reference Desk) received 23,530 views. These statistics do not include the views through various external blogs and websites in which they were embedded. We have no count on embeds. Comments appeared on AL Focus, Blip and YouTube. In case you missed them, catch the fun at and .

There are other indicators of the changes in the conversational mix. At the 2007 Annual Conference, a LITA Interest Group (BIGWIG) held an “unconference,” using a variety of social networking tools, including Twitter. As of last week, there were 45 people signed up to follow the 2008 Annual Conference on Twitter ( — and there’s a short thread there from the 2007 Annual Conference. YALSA is also on Twitter.

ALA has a 100-seat (divisible) classroom/meeting room in OPAL, an online meeting/conferencing facility for libraries, which uses a blend of VOIP and text chat. ALA president-elect Jim Rettig has met with his advisory committee in OPAL. Units can reserve space through staff in Outlook.

I know there’s more — and still more coming. If I take another “snapshot” a year from now, how much will have changed? I’m not sure I know how it will have changed — or how much — but I’m sure I’ll see change and that the path will not have been boring.

Thanks to ALA staff colleagues Matt Ivaliotes, Donavan Vicha, Tina Coleman, John Chrastka, Jenny Levine, Don Wood and Beth Yoke who did the counting and provided all the information.

NLW Videos Available to Libraries

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

AL Focus, the video arm of American Libraries, is in the middle of releasing a string of eight videos promoting National Library Week based on the 2006 Quotable Facts about America’s Libraries brochure. Feel free to point users to them, embed them in your own sites, or re-use the intro on your own videos. Here’s the one on salty snacks and yes, these pretzels are making me thirsty!

Second ALA Life

Friday, March 14th, 2008

ALA continues to work with its members and the public to experiment in the virtual world Second Life. We held a party in-world for Banned Books Week last year, and this year some very knowledgeable students in San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science helped rebuild our island. We went from a fairly static, sectioned presence to a more interactive and visually interesting one. There’s a new events area, information about each of our divisions, general information about ALA, some games, and other things to explore.

By the memory game

Book Stage at Sunrise

Besides wanting to publicly thank Jeremy Kemp, Bernd Becker, Daniel Brunk, Susie Quinn, and Robin Williams for all of their great work and SJSU SLIS for giving their time to us, I also want to note that we’ll be advertising SL events soon for National Library Week. In the meantime, please be sure to stop by and play around with some of the more fun things on our island. More to come in the future.

ALALibraryVal Miles poses beside the 2008 National Library Week Kiosk, wearing the free t-shirt available.

ALALibraryVal Miles accesses and wears the free National Library Workers Day t-shirt from the 2008 National Library Week Kiosk