Groups of crows are a called a murder. Groups of alligators, a congregation. And groups of cobras, a quiver. I’ve often thought that librarians should have their own group name as well. Perhaps they could take their title from starlings and become a murmuration, or maybe they could borrow from wombats and become a wisdom. I think, however, that librarians best suit a name that storks already use: a mustering.
And a mustering of librarians has been very busy these past few days.
Along with a football game and a large march, Atlanta hosted the American Library Association’s (ALA) Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference. At Midwinter, thousands of librarians gather to talk about library news, challenges, and roles. The meeting is also an opportunity for the library community to present awards to books and individuals that have made an impact.
Because Midwinter was so busy, I am only highlighting a few of the happenings here. (If you are so inclined, however, you can still explore the full schedule online.)
Keynote Speaker: W. Kamau Bell
This year’s Midwinter had Emmy Award nominated author, activist, and comedian W. Kamau Bell as its keynote speaker. He told librarians that:
“We have to see each other, we have to be here for each other, we have to honor each other. And the people in this room, librarians, have to be actively expanding everyone’s idea of what this country is supposed to be. As I said, you are on the front lines. You put books in people’s hands, and you have to make sure that the books you put in people’s hands are a wide array of ideas, and a wide array of authors, of diversity, of color, of sexuality, of gender orientation.”
The graphic novel trilogy March by Congressman and Civil Rights leader John Lewis won the 2017 Printz Award. The books describe Lewis’s experience striving for equal rights for African Americans and serving as the chairmen of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Other Award Winning Books
In addition to March, many other books received awards at the ALA. These include the Newbery Award for The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, the Caldecott Award for Javaka Steptoe’s Radiant Child, and the Stonewall Award for Rick Riordan’s The Hammer of Thor among many others.
Several libraries received monetary support as well. Librarians at public libraries across the United States received grants from Penguin Random House to support projects “that engage citizens in reading and strengthen the social and cultural fabric of their community.” First place grant recipient Kay Marner from Ames Public Library in Ames, Iowa received $10,000 for the program “Small Talk Story Country”.
Though libraries will continue to evolve, this year’s ALA Midwinter Meeting indicates that they remain dedicated to finding the best ways to support their local communities. Librarians, it seems, will continue their mustering for years to come.