By GAIL FINEBERG
When librarians get together, they discuss subjects as esoteric and varied as Chinese place names, use of site maps to improve Web site searching, a new standard for an online serials record and "de-coupling user interface from the back-end systems." Those are just some of the topics of the sessions held at the Library of Congress during the annual conference of the American Library Association (ALA) in Washington, D.C., June 21–27.
The Library hosted some 30 events during the ALA conference, most of them restricted to attendance by those who had pre-registered. The Library also sponsored some open events to which Library staff members were invited. These included open houses in various divisions and the Main Reading Room, a meeting of research library "Big Heads" and a C-SPAN interview with the Librarian of Congress taped before a live audience.
In addition to these events held at the Library, staff throughout the Library presented a robust series of daily programs at the Library's booth in the exhibit hall at the Washington Convention Center. In all, some 60 Library staff members led tours, hosted open houses or made presentations.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington hosted a two-hour reception for elected and appointed leaders of the ALA on the evening of June 25 in the Great Hall. At this invitation-only event, the Library displayed some of its treasures in the Main Reading Room and the Members' of Congress Room and extended its exhibition hours in the public spaces of the Great Hall.
In addition to open houses, special tours were conducted for ALA members and Library staff. The Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate (ABA) offered an acquisitions-to-access view to more than 80 visitors, taking them on behind-the-scenes tours of the office. Staff led tours of the receiving and routing area; various cataloging offices, including serial and music cataloging; the Electronic Resources Management System; Electronic Cataloging in Publication; the ABA workflow redesign; and JACKPHY (Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian, Hebrew, and Yiddish) scripts cataloging.
Martha Hopkins of the Interpretive Programs Office Center and John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book, led a Shakespeare-themed walking tour of the Jefferson Building. The tour, which began at the "Shakespeare in America" display case in the "American Treasures" exhibition, highlighted Shakespearean images and words in the Jefferson Building's corridors and ceilings and in the Main Reading Room.
The Preservation Office offered several tours for ALA participants, and buses took attendees to visit the Library's book storage facilities in Ft. Meade, Md.
Staff throughout the Library of Congress offered special information sessions for visiting librarians. The Law Library organized a two-hour program on "Legal Reference Research for Generalists in the Digital Age." Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters updated ALA visitors on the changes in her office as copyright registration and searching go digital. The Office of Strategic Initiatives offered three workshops: one on Library of Congress Metasearch, one on using site maps to improve Web site searching, and one on integrating primary sources into the K–12 classroom. Staff who oversaw the Library's conversion from the Wade-Giles romanization of Chinese place names to the Pinyin system presented an overview of establishing Chinese geographic names according to AACR2 and the Library of Congress Rule Interpretations. The Federal Libraries and Information Center Committee (FLICC) and FEDLINK hosted a program on careers in federal libraries, presented by the Federal and Armed Forces Librarians Roundtable. Staff from the Children's Literature Center presented a program on "Pop-up Books and Paper Engineering."
The Library took advantage of this large gathering of the nation's librarians to launch two major initiatives: a new Ad Council campaign to promote lifelong literacy and the 2007 National Book Festival to be held on Sept. 29. The Library's Public Affairs Office announced these initiatives at a press conference on Friday, June 22, at the Washington Convention Center.
Gail Fineberg is editor of the Library's staff newsletter, The Gazette.