ALA Report #3: Distance Learning Section programs
The official DLS program was a bit of a disappointment to me as a new member of the Distance Learning Section. The topic was "Distance Learning: We Know Where We've Been, but Where are We Going?" I arrived a bit late, so the first speaker was already talking. His theme was that of the greying profession and the upcoming gap in leadership. Like so many young librarians, and as a member of a search committee for a position where we have 120+ applications, I just don't buy into this myth. There are tons of librarians out there eager to work and ready to step into leadership roles. The presenter during this part was one of the authors of the AL article on the ACRL heads' desired leadership traits in new librarians that got everyone so riled up a few months ago.
The second presenter had an interesting look at diversity issues in distance education. Unfortunately she didn't have a lot of statistics or examples to back her up and her presentation showed it. Still, it was good to point out that we need to be aware that distant students are different from the traditional on campus population.
The final speaker askd whether new grads were ready to provide distant library services. She concluded that for the most part they were. Gee thanks!
The DLS also hosted a breakfast and business meeting. This was a much more enjoyable and valuable experience for me as a new member. I got to meet a lot of other distance librarians and came to understand that part of the problem is that everyone at the conference had been in the section for a very long time and many of the librarians in the section seem to be nearing retirement. So I guess they have a bit of a biased view, with so little new blood coming in. Hopefully I and the other new, younger people in attendance helped ease their fears a bit. They are a very welcoming and friendly group of people and I have never felt more at home going into an ALA meeting. So, all my fellow newbies take note--here's an interesting part of the profession that we can get involved in!