ALA Annual in San Francisco (#alaac15)

by Mike Lauruhn

Following a fun day at the Jane-athon and a team dinner with friends and colleagues, I was ready for the weekend sessions at ALA Annual. Managing an ALA weekend schedule has always meant making decisions about what to attend and acknowledging that one simply cannot attend every session they would like to. For me, this year's case in point was the six Linked Data sessions crammed into to two back-to-back time slots on Saturday morning. Combine this with planned and spontaneous reunions and the allure of an enormous exhibits hall, the weekend is always busy and memorable. Nonetheless, I made my choices and got to hear some intriguing talks from a variety of organizations. With that as a background, here are a pair of highlights from sessions I was able to attend:

The Cataloging Norms Interest Group featured Diane Hillmann's talk about legacy bibliographic metadata issues as use of Library Linked Data, BIBFRAME and RDA are increasing. The talk was quite practical and emphasized the need to hang on to legacy metadata (i.e. MARC records). She stated her belief that new business models for metadata management will likely emerge, with local caches bypassing central cache management. She also noted that there are too many questions about what we (and those who come after us) will want from our legacy metadata. Instead of dwelling on what to keep, share, and map, just keep it ("Storage is cheap").

The ACRL Science & Technology Section hosted a panel about Federal Public Access Plans. The panel was designed to provide some examples of how Federal Agencies are developing plans to support access to publicly-funded research results in response to the 2013 memo from the Office of Science and Technology Policy. This was one of favorite sessions I attended over the weekend and featured two of my favorite talks (neither of which used PowerPoint. Coincidence?). The speakers included Pamela Tripp-Melby from the National Library of Education and Amanda Wilson from the National Transportation Library. For me, it was important and refreshing to hear about data planning and management needs for researchers and agencies outside the scope of health sciences, laboratory, and field sciences.   

Amanda Wilson, Director of the National Transportation Library, discussed the Public Access Plan for the Department of Transportation. She stated that they would not require depositing of data with the DoT, but researchers would need to self-certify a deposit with a repository that meets their standards, mostly focused on access and sustainability. DoT is also requiring ORCID IDs for researchers and DOIs for corresponding datasets. 

Similarly, the Director of the National Library of Education, Pamela Tripp-Melby gave an update on access planning for the Department of Education. For more than 50 years, the Department of Education has had the ERIC database as a source for literature. Perhaps the biggest revelation of the talk was how much exposure researcher's data management plans would receive -- with plans to include links to the DMPs in ERIC.

My favorite audience comment for the session [paraphrased] was: "let's not delay on putting teeth behind these mandates. Don't allow bad habits to continue".

Regardless of venue, ALA Annual is always a fun, inspiring, overwhelming, and enlightening experience. Hundreds of sessions, thousands of vendors -- there really is something for everyone (pardon the cliche). I always encourage anyone to attend. In the meantime, check out the conference scheduler page where many presentations have been uploaded.