RUSA President’s Program

Reflections on the RUSA President’s Program 2015

On Saturday, June 27 from 4-5:30 we were able to welcome danah boyd, Founder and President of Data & Society to present, “It’s Complicated: Navigating the dynamic landscapes of digital literacy, collapsing contexts, and big data.” We had close to 700 people in attendance to hear danah speak. She provided a rapid-fire presentation packed with content, so I do strongly encourage everyone to watch the video recording! It’s available to all ALA members. Simply go to and log in with your ALA membership ID. One of the themes that danah focused regarded the consequences of information in all its forms being reflected in contexts that it was never originally intended. The effects can be devastating, especially for a young person who posts comments in a social media environment intended to preserve their own safety and relationships within their peer group, but then these comments are viewed very differently as they shift into college and career environments. Young people have also come up with very innovative ways to manage their own identities and privacy in online environments, such as deactivating and reactivating a Facebook account, with the intention of asserting control over their presence and allowing comments by others to only take place when they themselves are also online. Another theme of danah’s presentation focused on the algorithms that drive advertising in web environments. These algorithms have a definite impact on what we see on the web and greatly influence how we perceive the world. What can librarians do? Be active champions of information literacy and information access. Fight for the rights of the people in your community and be their advocate.

I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg on what danah covered, so in addition to watching the video I do encourage you to be on the lookout for a column that will appear in the next issue of Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) authored by Cathay Keough, member of the RUSA Just Ask Task Force. I want to share my personal thanks to the members of the RUSA President’s Program Planning Committee, the RUSA Just Ask Task Force, the RUSA staff, and members of the RUSA Board of Directors for their support. I’m especially grateful to our president’s program committee chair Peter Bromberg, who maintained our great relationship with danah and her agent, created our Facebook event page, and led our awareness campaign so that ALA’s conference attendees could be ensured to know about the program. I also very much appreciate the work by Cathay Keough for writing the forthcoming RUSQ column, Marianne Braverman for her promotional efforts, and Andrea Hill for handling the editing work and getting the video posted.

Thanks again to each of you and everyone who helped make the program a success!

Joe Thompson

RUSA Past President