Editorial Note

Our Spring meeting generously hosted by Ed Miner at the University of Iowa started on Thursday, May 8 and ended on Saturday, May 10 of 2008. The traditional committees met to deliberate, determine activities for the future and formed new sub-committees, work groups to actualize our plans. Kudos to the ALC members who willingly rolled up their sleeves and volunteered as sub-committee members!

Our first one hour and a half hour-session on Thursday was devoted to a new addition to our usual agenda, Public Services Issues Discussion. Librarians exchanged notes about expected responsibilities in multiple areas of service such as teaching and giving individual consultations to develop information literacy; spending scheduled or on-call hours at the reference desk; actively working as liaison persons with departments, centers and students; embracing technological innovations to maximize service to our patrons via use of (email, chat mail, instant messaging, text messaging, webcast, blogs); establishing and maintaining Web presence for African Studies. Some concerns were raised about effectively performing all these tasks as well as having sufficient time to spend on developing our library collections, strategic planning and budget planning.

After a short break we regrouped to discuss developments in the Google partnership with the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) to digitize library collections. A short break afterwards and another regrouping to discuss ABPR issues chaired by Jill Coelho who made an appeal for more volunteers to help compile and contribute citations. So dear colleagues, let's pitch in!

All our hard work so far was deliciously rewarded with an aromatic array of Ethiopian cuisine that tickled our noses and whetted our appetite as soon as we walked into University of Iowa Museum of Art. We were welcomed by Ed Shreeves, the Associate University Librarian & Director, Collections and Scholarly Communication who gave us a brief overview of the long history of African Studies in the University of Iowa. He also announced that our very own Edward Miner had been named as the 2008 recipient of the Arthur Benton Excellence in Reference Services Professional Development Award. Congratulations, Ed! We relished our dinner breathing the same ethereal air as, albeit at a respectable distance from, Nigeria's Igbo maiden spirit mask , Sierra Leone's Gola Sande mask, an Nkisi female figure of the Songye people (DRC), a Bushoong Nyata mask (DRC), the Mbulu guardian figure of the Kota people (Gabon) and we imagined Luba royalties making majestic pronouncements from their royal stool. Oh yes, we had worked hard and we were splendidly rewarded and energized to work even harder. ALC members join me in expressing our appreciation to Ed Shreeves, Ed Miner and the University of Iowa Library team!

The Executive Committee had an early morning meeting on Friday during which a Nominating Committee (Loumona Petroff and Yousef Caruso) was formed to oversee the election of new officers. Members also agreed it was time we reviewed our ByLaws. The Bibliography Committee met shortly afterwards and some of the many issues discussed included Tom Nygren's progress report on Aluka's Pilot project with CAMP and a new pricing model based on JSTOR categories; the abrupt suspension of the Conover-Porter Award and the positive end result of its temporary reinstatement resulting from Ruby Bell-Gam's letter requesting a decision review; an update from LC-CAP, read on behalf of Pamela Howard-Reguindin by Marietta Harper, highlighted the addition of 1,008 records to the Quarterly Index, LC-Nairobi's revised and updated website, ability to forge ahead in spite of budget constraints, a stormy political environment and staff retirement/relocation, the need for more volunteer off-site indexers, and appreciation of prompt payment by members. Also discussed were some electronic databases and subscription issues; the new web host for AfricaBib; a brief report on the IMLS digitization project; State Visits Project and other digitization projects at the Library of Congress; and DLIR's e-books collection of African language materials.

The Cataloging Committee met shortly after lunch. In addition to the many cataloging issues discussed, a 42-page packet was handed out to members. This packet contained minutes of the annual meeting of the CC-AAM (ALA, Jan. 2007) and six appendices outlining and reporting on CC:DA actions on description and access of Asian and African materials; OCLC progress report on formulation of a policy for cataloging non-Latin script materials; guidelines for MARC 21 non-filing control character technique and much more.

At the ALC Business Meeting, members talked about setting up a round table at the next ASA conference; the upcoming election of new officers (Chair/Elect, Secretary, Member-at-Large). A Public Service Committee, an ALC By-Laws Review task force, and a work group for ALC Archives/Record of Activity were set up. Members had an opportunity to meet a visiting archivist from Senegal, Mr. Faye, on internship at the University of Iowa Library (also interned at Columbia University and UCLA). Information was also shared about an internship program for SLIS students interested in working in Africa.

At the CAMP Business meeting on Saturday morning, members received lots of updates on several projects and pilot programs including CLR's new projects and programs such as the Global Resources Network, their growing digital delivery program and NewsBank of digital international newspapers; Aluka's digital selection and exploration of collaboration models; and some cooperative archives projects. Members voted on fund allocation for new microfilm projects and some volunteered to explore means of providing better bibliographic access to microfilm collections.

This is obviously a very brief overview of activities at our Spring 2008 meeting. Fuller and more detailed minutes will be made available as soon as they have been approved at: http://www.library.upenn.edu/collections/africa/ALC/

On a final note, thanks to Marion Frank-Wilson, ALN now has a new web designer/encoder, Jeremy Kenyon (Indiana University). Welcome Jeremy! Also, the ALN team join me in thanking all contributors, past, present and future, for your support and participation!

Bassey Irele
Harvard University

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