A Trip to DC for the 2022 ALA Annual Conference
Published: July 12, 2022 by Alicia Perez
This past year for me has been a rush of information, opportunity, and comradery. I did not think at this point last year that I would be in the middle of a summer graduate course, working towards my MLIS, and have the opportunity to travel and experience a conference to see my fellow peers, potential co-workers, trending authors and illustrators, and more! Thanks to the generosity of San José State University’s iSchool travel grant, I was able to visit Washington, DC this past June 25th to 26th to see the first annual conference held by the American Library Association post-COVID-19 quarantine.
The capital of the United States, Washington, D.C., hosts a plethora of history and rich information sure to appeal to any and all library and information science students (and alumni)! Some of the highlights of the conference include a visit from Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, who discussed the role of libraries and librarians in the misinformation age. There were visits from authors, such as John Cho, R.L. Stine, Celeste Ng, Tiffany Haddish, Vanessa L. Torres, and Kami Garcia. There were events that spoke to librarians in certain hardships and how to overcome them, such as adding diversity through sensory spaces, marketing for small libraries, discussing digital equality, exploring censorship in digitalization, and discussions on misinformation and disinformation. This year also marked the 100-year anniversary of the Newberry medal, the world’s first children’s book award, and a celebration dinner was hosted during the conference. There were live podcasts hosted by authors, a petting-zoo bunny exhibition, a short film festival called The Festival of Shorts, counselors to help market your skills via resume update, a job fair, ALA Trivia, and tours of the Library of Congress and D.C.’s local library, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.
I enjoyed exploring the exhibit booths, pursuing the free books and swag, discussions, author signings, and up-and-coming technology to help librarians of all avenues. I loved the positivity and creativity of the exhibitors, the cheerfulness of the attendees, and the overall optimistic feeling of the conference. Everyone experienced a hardship together with the pandemic, but with a combined effort and forward thinking, there were many new ways exhibitors have shown to help make way for the future of the library world. I loved the political activeness that was expressed, such as the unity against book bans and the threat of violence in libraries, as well as the progressive measures for diversity and LGBTQ+ in literature. I enjoyed reading my fellow SJSU peers’ poster presentations on their research from over the year, whether it was by themselves or with a group. Although I have not had a chance yet to do my own research, I hope to be a part of this experience in the future. If you would like to read their presentations from this summer, please see the following link: https://ischool.sjsu.edu/post/community-impact-poster-presentations.
To end my fun day in D.C., I enjoyed helping set up and talking with current SJSU students, professors, and staff members at the reception hosted at the Renaissance D.C. Downtown Hotel on Saturday evening. The poster presenters had their posters up for everyone attending to view, there was a great buffet of food, drinks, and dessert, and there was of course SJSU iSchool swag! Dr. Chow demonstrated the virtual reality exhibit that was the center of focus, along with the students’ experiences, at the ALA exhibition. It was a fun, relaxing evening, one where I could put faces to names and enjoy discussing what life is like for other students.
Although I had to cut my trip short due to a death in my family, I sincerely enjoyed my trip to D.C., and cannot wait for the conference again next year, which will be hosted in my hometown, Chicago! Thank you SJSU for the great summer memory, I cannot wait to participate more in graduate activities as I continue in my MLIS journey.
Editor’s Note: The SJSU iSchool highly encourages students to attend professional conferences but also realizes that it can be cost prohibitive. Travel grants are available to eligible students to help lessen the financial burden and increase conference participation. iSchool student Alicia Perez received one of these travel grants.