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Time to vote for libraries at SXSW

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Believe it or not, the annual interdisciplinary fete known as South by Southwest (SXSW) is once again around the corner – and, as in years past, we need your help to make sure libraries are well represented. Last year, with your help, OITP’s Larra Clark participated in the Austin-based event (which consists of four separate convenings – SXSW Interactive, SXSW Edu, SXSW Music and SXSW Film) with D.C. Public Library’s Nick Kerelchuk and start-up MapStory’s Jonathan Marino. Larra, Nick and Jonathan’s SXSW Interactive panel described how hundreds of U.S. libraries meet the needs of this country’s growing cohort of self-employed, temp and freelance workers by providing workspaces and programming that foster entrepreneurship and creativity.

This year, ALA once again hopes to make an impression at SXSW. The Office for Information Technology Policy proposed two programs, one for Interactive and one for EDU:

Technology Adoption as Policy Linchpin
As technology innovation speeds forward, the gap between early and late adopters is growing to the detriment of individuals and communities. Digital adoption is central to addressing a range of policy woes from underperforming schools to unemployment to housing security. Home broadband adoption took policy center stage in 2015 with President Obama’s Broadband Opportunity Council, the FCC’s Lifeline proceeding and HUD’s public-private ConnectHome effort. This session will discuss the gap, how to consistently link access and adoption across sectors, critically explore policy options, share exemplary examples and look to the future of continuous digital adoption in relationship to innovation.

Improving 3D Printing Workflow to Boost Learning
3D printing is taking off in libraries, schools and universities, expanding opportunities for creative learning and expression. But one of the biggest obstacles to helping all people benefit from this trend is a lack of capacity in these institutions – in terms of physical space, equipment, technical know-how, broadband capacity and person power. How can these learning centers lead everyone onto the 3D printing on-ramp without creating a logjam? It’s possible! Hear from a panel of burning souls from across the 3D printing world who have dedicated blood, sweat and tears to advancing the 3D revolution.

But wait, there’s more. Re:Create, a new copyright coalition of which ALA is a founding member, proposed this program:

Copyright & Creators: 2026
What does the future hold for copyright? Who are the gatekeepers and how does this power structure need to change to meet not only the needs of today’s digital age, but also the needs of future creativity and innovation? The Copyright & Creators: 2026 panel will speculate on where the innovations and advancements will be in 2026. Will our laws keep pace with the times or fall behind? And how will people continually interact with copyright? Moderated by a veteran reporter, panelists include a respected academic, a noted futurist and a fan fiction leader who will debate the trajectory of copyright law and where some of the future conversations and conflicts will be a decade from now.

And…Benetech, a non-profit social enterprise organization, proposed the following program for Edu to highlight its establishment of a new 3D printing coalition between libraries, museums and schools, in which ALA is involved:

No More Yoda Heads: 3D printing 4 diverse learners
Research suggests that 3D objects are important for learning and reinforcing complex spatial concepts that are difficult to convey or explore in any other way (e.g., cells and DNA). Although many schools have access to 3D printing technology, many machines are underutilized and used to print novelty items. In this session, learn about new collaborations with libraries and museums to help support teachers in providing multi-modal access to complex STEM topics as well as utilizing student talent to create innovative learning tools.

SXSW received more than 4,000 submissions this year—an all-time record—so we need your help to make the cut. Public voting counts for 30 percent of SXSW’s decision to pick a panel, so please support these great programs. It’s easy: Become a “registered voter” in the Panel Picker process by signing up for a free account here, and get your votes in before Friday, Sept. 4. Supportive comments are even more helpful in making one proposal stand out from another.

ALA also is a member of the SXSW library “team” that connects through the lib*interactive Facebook group and #liblove. Join the group and learn more about library proposals around the country.

Please share far and wide! Selected panels for SXSW Interactive will be announced starting Monday, Oct. 19, 2015. Those for SXSW Edu will be announced starting Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Thanks!

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Charlie Wapner

Charlie Wapner is an information policy analyst for the Washington Office.


  1. […] to grow a business. Last Spring, Larra Clark of the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy organized and participated in a program highlighting the growth of co-working areas in libraries at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) […]

  2. […] A couple of weeks ago, the ALA Washington Office urged support for library programs at South by Southwest (SXSW). The library community’s footprint at this annual set of conferences and activities has expanded in recent years, and we must keep this trend going! Now is your last chance to do your part, as public voting on panel proposals will end at 11:59 pm (CDT) this Friday, September 4th. SXSW received more than 4,000 submissions this year—an all-time record—so we need your help more than ever to make library community submissions stand out. You can read about, comment on, and vote for, the full slate of proposed panels involving the Washington Office here. […]

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