ALA Professional Tools

By Melanie Kay

Librarians are a resourceful bunch. I find that most of the time, sending a query out into a circle of librarian friends can solicit a plethora of useful and helpful answers. But where can one turn when they just can’t find the answers that they seek? There could be many answers to this- but let’s keep it on a non-cosmic level here.

The chic, modern, librarian-in-the-know can always turn to the ALA’s Professional Tools page!

If you’ve got questions, ALA has answers! On the Professional Tools page, there is an A-Z guide addressing the most frequently asked questions on the ALA website. The pages that the guide links to are quick and easy references that cover a wide range of topics including funding, diversity, censorship, reader’s advisory, etc. The Professional Tools page also has links to the ALA’s responses to the most Frequently Asked Questions About Books and Reading and the most Frequently Asked Questions from Authors and Publishers. ALA also provides resources to help librarians challenge censorship and promote intellectual freedom. To see what questions your fellow librarians are asking, be sure to check out the Ask the ALA Library blog.

Happy searching!

How to Win at a Professional Conferences

By Lauren Seegmiller

Once you start wading into the world of professional organizations, you’ll find that there are almost as many organizational conferences as there are acronyms for them.  

This year, I attended the joint conference of the Colorado Library Association (CAL) and the Mountain Plains Library Association. MPLA/CALCon. MPLA/CALCon 2016 was the third professional conference that I have attended. One year before, I went to CALCon 2015 and then six months ago I attended the Public Library Association Conference when it was in Denver. Even in the course of a year, I’ve learned a lot about attending conferences and I feel like every successive experience gets better and better.

Why attend a professional conference?

I mean, in a word: “networking.” When I first started working in libraries, I had hoped that my wildest introvert dreams would come true and my professional qualifications would speak for themselves. Surprise! The library world is just like anywhere else: interpersonal connections are important. Conferences are a great way to make those connections and get outside your organization. Even if you’re not on the job hunt at the moment (though one day you could be), meeting new people can give you an insider’s view into how things work in other systems.

Speaking of getting outside your organization, conferences are a way to keep up with trends, perspectives, and practices occurring outside your library. Some states actually require librarians to log the hours they spend doing professional development as continuing education credits and conferences can fulfill this requirement. But whether you need them or not, library world moves fast and so these presentations can be a great opportunity to see what’s happening now in your arena or some others you may want to explore.

Tips for Maximizing Your Time at a Conference

Read carefully. I’m currently a paraprofessional and at my first conference I wound up at more than a few sessions aimed at supervisors. Look at who is presenting and where they are from if it’s listed. If you’re from a large urban library with multiple branches, will it serve you well to see a presentation given by someone from a single, rural library? Sometimes you have to read between the lines to figure out the presenters’ intended audience and scope.   

Plan your sessions. If you can get ahold of the program ahead of time either through an app or on paper, take some time to note what interests you. I like to sit down with a paper program, read through, and annotate what I’m interested in. This also reminds me that there are times when I have to choose between sessions and to keep revisiting as the day goes on.

It’s better to fade away than to burn out. You don’t have to attend every single session. If nothing spins your wheels in the 11am slot, you’re under no obligation to attend. Conferences are tiring and you don’t want to yawn your way through a presentation and get nothing from it. I know that when I get tired that I’ve stepped on the train to Cranky Town. If you need more sleep, leave early or arrive late if you have to.

Remember that you’re being watched. Not to be all Big Brother-y about it, but people can see and are seen at conferences. You’re constantly giving an impression of yourself, so be conscious of it, whether that means how you dress, what you say about your current position, how much you have had to drink, etc. I pack a hand mirror and little flossers because there’s always something in my teeth. You can’t and don’t have to please everyone but remember that people do judge you based on appearance, behavior, actions, statements, and spinach-teeth.

Take care of your needs. I already talked about sleep, but it’s a big one, and so are other physical needs like hydration. You also have other obligations. All the conferences I’ve been to have coincided with my being a grad student, so I’ve usually got a bag full of homework with me. If you have an assignment around or during conference time, consider asking for an extension. If you need to give someone gas money so you can do your reading in the car, do it. If not having protein gives you a headache, pack some jerky (and some mints, for afterwards).

If you’ve been to a conference, leave us a comment with your tips. Also, check out what our friends over at Hack Library School have had to say about conference attendance!

Start of the Quarter!

Thank you to all of the new and returning students who attended iWelcome Week at MGH!

Since this week is Banned Books Week, each day we will be featuring a favorite Banned Book by one of our sALA Officers – This will be crossposted on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday: Lauren Seegmiller

Banned Book Monday

Tuesday: Matthew Goldman

Banned Book Tuesday

Wednesday: Melanie Kay


Thursday: Stacey Akahoshi


Friday: Emily Pearson


iSchool Welcome Week 2016

Congratulations to the incoming students in the MLIS program!

UW sALA will be hosting two events during iSchool Welcome Week.

Wednesday September 21 @ 5:00pm – Trivia Night with sARSL at College Inn Pub
Saturday September 24 @ 12:30 – Seattle Public Library Field Trip (Meet Outside Mary Gates Hall) We will travel together.

We will also be present at the iOrgs Fair as well as around campus. Please check your UW inbox and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for details regarding the iSchool Welcome Week agenda and meetup places. We hope to see you there!

You may find the iSchool Welcome Week schedule here.

sALA Mixer September 25th

sALA Mixer - Postcard

Attention new and returning MLIS students! As part of iWelcome Week sALA (the student chapter of The American Library Association) is hosting a social mixer at Big Time Brewery. Relax at the end of a busy week with some good conversation and free pizza!

  • What: Social Mixer
  • When: Friday September 25, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Where: Big Time Brewery, 4133 University Avenue4133 University Ave, 98105

See you there!

sALA Celebrates National Library Week

i love libraries chalkboard

National Library Week is April 12 – April 15 and we’re celebrating!

sALA is hosting a Q&A with select Seattle librarians about what they do and what motivates them. This event will be simulcast, so you can attend either online ( or in person (MGH 258).


Azusa Tanaka  (iEquality focus) UW Libraries

Robin Chin Roemer  (sALA focus) UW Libraries

Jude Anderson   (sARSL focus) Granite Falls branch of Sno-Isle Library

The event is from 12:30 – 2:00 pm, and there will be snacks. Join us!

What: Seattle Librarian Q&A

When: Tuesday April 14th, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Where: MGH 258 or online via Adobe connect:


sALA goes to Vancouver, BC to visit UBC sALA!


sALA officers unite!


In January, sALA UW officers Twanna Hodge, Sarah Leslie, Heather Newcomer, and Xochitl Rocha went to Vancouver, BC over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. They participated in an exchange with the University of British Columbia ALA student chapter members. The previous year sALA officers invited UBC students to UW and this year the exchange was reciprocated. On Friday officers toured different departments at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre on the UBC campus, including the ASRS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System), the Digitization Center, and the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS).

On Saturday we started out the day by visiting the Out on the Shelves Library at Qmunity, Vancouver’s queer resource community center. The library has more than 3,500 LGBTQ books. It is evident that the library serves as an important resource for the community and was a pleasure to hear about what all they were doing. Following the Qmunity tour three out of the four sALA officers had their first poutine and proceeded to walk to the Vancouver Public Library, Central branch. Other UBC SLAIS students met sALA officers and their hosts for a VPL tour by a librarian. It was very interesting to see what the Vancouver Public Library has been up to. The tour was both architectural and gave overview of the different departments and services offered. Some fun tidbits are that VPL has a gym onsite at the library for staff to use. Also there is only one information desk (besides the one on the children’s floor). There are seven levels open to the public and on each floor there is a reference telephone rather than librarians staffing a reference desk. A librarian will come to the patron after the inquiry has been made. The Children’s area and Special Collections were the highlights of the library visit. After the tour all enjoyed a delicious sushi dinner and sALA officers drove back across the border the next day.

Thank you to UBC ALA members, especially Matthew, Anna, Mark, Apple Berry, Chloe, and Megan for arranging the awesome tours, showing us your city, and for being such wonderful hosts. We hope that the exchange can continue with new officers!


Vancouver Public Library


Qmunity Library, a LGBQT library in Vancouver.

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Heather in front of VPL

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What is a trip to Canada without some Poutine!

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Qmunity Library, a LGBQT library in Vancouver.