Public libraries, the Affordable Care Act, and news in 2014

With the initial healthcare insurance enrollment period, and the attendant media running up to and during those months, just fading in memory, it’s already time to use what we learned and improve on the remarkably smooth Covered California/California public library interfaces we began to build a year ago. WebJunction has been pursuing the study and documentation of public library processes and lessons in various states. Reading their report on the California experience offers insights on what worked here and why.

The second open health insurance enrollment period is scheduled to begin November 15. The Affordable Care Act includes many directives besides this particular and complex one. Now is a good time to review the various aspects beyond insurance coverage that might be affecting your community and be prime to target by library staff as local information development needs.

This year at CLA, a program featuring Covered California, the community aware staff at Alameda County Library who gave a star performance connecting community to Affordable Care access and information the first year out, and Infopeople, which continues to update and provide free access to the independent online series Affordable Care Act @ Your California Public Library, is slated for Sunday afternoon.

Do you have programming experiences around Affordable Care you’d like to share? As WebJunction notes in its report, our collaborative capacity is a California library strength.

Browsing as an art and lifeskill

One of this year’s recurring topics at Book Expo revolves around the current book industry reconsideration of DRM (the digital rights management coding that essentially keeps ebooks and eaudio locked from the user’s attempt to copy–and, too often, from accessing a rightfully owned file  due to technical incompatibilities between  file and player or other downloading snafus). As digital intellectual property becomes increasingly accessible, both technically and popularly, some of us librarians here in the digital collections conversation are identifying the need to create the opportunity for collection users to engage in physical browsing.

This, for me anyway, is an unexpected lapse in the rich world of digital collection use habits: youth readily scan web pages, sample music, and put their eyes, ears and imaginations to the end of sorting among options to find what fits the moment’s need or want, from an information standpoint. Browsing, however, has become a stranger. Browsing–be it among horses in a meadow or middle schoolers in the school media center– is a physical activity as much as an engagement of thoughts/feelings elicited by auditory or visual stimuli. Confronting three potential resources for pursuing research on Egyptian jewelry making is, of course, a lot about what visual scanning–and in the case of a video’s soundtrack, in this example–sound resonance. Engaging one’s evaluative powers, however, can be enhanced by leafing through plates that were set in just this specific order, noting that the volume offers a biographical note about its author who turns out to be a noted jeweler, and how this volume’s smell contrasts with the scent of that other one which has beautiful little pen and ink sketches and no photos of artifacts. And, oh look, this third is printed on heavy stock that seems to promise its contents are similarly substantive…but are they? Can one judge content worth by its package…oh, look, another now personalized question to explore by the beginning researcher….

The intrinsic difference between this kind of browsing and online research scanning is subtle. No superior term paper grades abound to demonstrate the academic worth of touching, turning, riffling and hefting as part of the resource selection process. And yet, these browsing activities call up resources within budding researchers’ awareness. It’s not just who said it, when it was said, and whether it works in my information gap context; it’s also about learning to learn, and learning is an engagement with the world in its concrete aspect as well as the abstracted formulations we can draw.

From #noise to #change

he California Library Association’s 115th annual conference is now history–and, as with any event in history, it offers information and insights we can use now in the present and take into the future. This year, the programs werre particularly impressive for their diversity, professionalism, and, most importantly, their subsuntative content. As we move from #clanoise to the road that will bring us to the 2014 conference theme of Be the Change, a couple of these programs deserve specific shout outs here.

Infopeople, along with the CLA Legislative Committee, sponsored a preconference in Long Beach titled “It’s All about Them.” In a jam packed three hours, Craig Gerhart, of the International City/County Managers Association, ignited participants’ understanding of, and enthiuiasm for, getting outside the traditional library mindset of looking to ourselves and working to get others to attend to what we think is so special about us, to recognize that public libraries–and staff–are (important) parts of a much larger web of community service. Mr. Gerhart, whose understanding of public libraries is deep and admirable, walked us through how librarians can be effective community change agents through our ability to demonstrate leadership where it is needed in other civic service and engagement processes. You can view his slides and visit the Twitter thread (#allthem) posted throughout the morning for details.

A day later, the impressive crew from Santa Ana Public Library–many of whom are Eureka Fellows–shared their compelling experience with mentoring youth right into professional librarian positions. In Seeds to Trees, Cheryl Eberly, Lynn Nguyen, Patty Lopez, Manuel Escamilla, and Silvia Cisneros told their personal stories as players in the process and also provided immediately usable take-aways. One of the latter–among the several noted in the Twitter thread (#seedstrees) that documented the hour–was the discussion of how connecting local youth to their own community’s roots through historical document work can broaden their views of their own possibilities within the community.

Combining some of the learnings from “It’s All about Them” and “Seeds to Trees” points up how community recognition can promote individual achievement, as well as how recognizing the community can lead to achievement in an individual sphere. When we see ourselves as a part of the community, we can be more effective as elements within it. True for people, true for libraries. With a mere eleven and half months to go before CLA2014, we can begin already to Be the Change.

Time flies (so do airplanes) and here we are!

There is, indeed, a whole lotta noise happening in Long Beach, as the California Library Association swings into its 115th annual conference. In spite of airport closures and cancelled flights, everyone is now here and catching the sound waves as we learn about “It’s All about Them,” with Craig Gerhart of the International City/County Managers Association; Eureka! at the Carnival aisle (425/426) in the Exhibits; the new immigration education project rolling out from the USCIS and IMLS agreement; and more, more, more!

To learn more about yesterday’s excellent and timely preconference with Mr Gerhart (whose appearance was sponsored by Infopeople and CLA’s Legislation Group), see #allthem with #clanoise on Twitter.

To enjoy the Carnival, visit the Infopeople booth during the no conflict times at conference, this afternoon at 2 pm and tomorrow morning as well.

Other programs that look really good for this afternoon’s appreciation and information are “Career Vision: A new approach for job seekers and career changers in the public library,” which will be tweeted out by Infopeople as #careervis with #clanoise, at 1 pm; “Seeds to Trees: Grow your own future bilingual library professionals and advocates,” to be tweeted as #seedstrees with #clanoise, at 2:45; and “Quiet Riot: Activating change from every organizational level,” to be tweeted out as #quietriot with #clanoise, at 4 pm. And that’s just where this attendee will be tweeting. There’s lots, lots more in the ways of programs across the next five hours! Go forth and make some noise!

CLA Annual minus 72 hours…checklist

You’re registered. You’ve made some social plans. You have your eye on a particular program, speaker, exhibit and/or event. Now, let’s run through what else you need to collect sooner rather than later–just for peace of mind.

The extended weather forecast shows warm days and cool nights. Check the specifics herebefore making final wardrobe packing decisions.

The conference Twitter hashtag is #CLAnoise. Lots of aspects of the conference will be live-tweeted, so if you have been shy of following a professional event via this method, this might be the time to give it a try. It’s easy. You can take a look at the Twitter Support pages here.

Long Beach is an easy city to navigate. If you are likely to use public transit during the conference, here is a quick link to all things Long Beach transit.

The Exhibits promise to be, as we have come to expect with CLA, just the right mix of essential and informed businesses and agencies with surprises and fun! You can see which agencies and businesses will be present–along with hyperlinks to what each offers. Taking a look at this now can help you note your “attack plan” in the Exhibit Hall, so as to maximize the information flow there and, well, tap into the fun!

We’ll update the countdown tomorrow and give you some peeks behind the published materials.