My favorite part about ALA is that every conference is a different experience. Midwinter was about connecting with other librarians and discovering an amazing support system that I totally depend on now. This time around I would say it was more about connecting with authors and publishers. It was an amazing all around experience, my only sadness was I wasn’t able to see my girls more than I did. It will be a long six months before I get to see them all again.
There were several sessions I tried to make it to this time around. I think the most useful one for me was the Website session. While I already do a lot of the things they spoke about, I walked out with several ideas I’m hoping to add to our teen site. Although, if I had been able to stay for the full mobile service session I’m pretty sure I would have walked away with even more useful tips. I am extremely anxious to get my hand on all the resources that will be posted on the YALSA blog soon. I walked out with great information in just the first 45 minutes!
Unfortunately, the session I was looking forward to the most is the one I willingly walked out of. I didn’t need to waste an hour being told that there are challenges to serving older teens and 20-somethings. I already knew that, which is why I was at the session. I was looking for useful information to help me overcome those challenges. Yes, it is possible that that information came in after I walked out, but it shouldn’t have taken over an hour to get to it. And believe me, I was definitely not the only one who walked out of this session. It still makes me quite sad, especially since I would love to help out this age group since they don’t fully belong anywhere on the library service scale
My committee meetings went amazingly. I’m so excited about how much work Fab Films has already accomplished this year. While I can’t say how our voting went, I can say I am very happy with the results so far. It will be an interesting Midwinter though! I am still very nervous about how long it will take us to narrow it down to 25 titles. We have so many good nominations this year. AND we’re still looking for more. If you haven’t already, be sure to go to our nomination form and help us out.
My floor time was extremely limited this time around. I spent maybe 3 or 4 hours total over the 4 days. And a lot of that was spent in lines to get autographed copies as prizes. I will say the floor was extremely hectic and chaotic. I have never seen it this way, especially on Friday night. ARCs were gone before you could blink and it was just overall crazy. There were even boxes of books that came up missing, making be feel extremely sorry for the publisher reps. This does mean I missed a lot of the “hot” books, but that’s okay. My teens sent me with a wish list and I managed to get the bulk of what they wanted, which makes me feel accomplished. The only true downside is that I didn’t get to find out what the reps where most excited about beyond a few publishers. Without Tess, Variant, and You Against Me were three that stuck out in my mind as MUST READS thanks to small talks with reps. I have made a full list if anyone is interested in seeing what I was able to get.
The meat of my time was spent with publishers and, OH, how much fun did I have! I won’t bore you with all the details; instead I’ll give you some highlights of my favorite moments
- Sitting next to Katherine Tegen during dinner and hearing about some possible upcoming books and her view on some teen issues. It was great giving feedback on the “darker” issues for teens. (As a side note, this dinner was truly fabulous and one I’ll never forget.)
- Being at a dance party with Laini Taylor. And while I didn’t participate in the conga line I did tape it! Something that fun needed to be documented and I was more than happy to do it. It was also fun to give Laini one of out ILOA buttons. (Two others were given to Kirsten Hubbard and Blythe Woolston)
- Being about to sit down with Lerner Publisher and give them feedback on teen books and more. While I can’t talk about what happened during this focus group, I will say it was a great discussion. While there were only about 5 other teen service librarians there we were able to give a lot of insight on what our teens are looking for. It was fascinating to see the similarities and differences between our teens.
- Finding out that Jessica Martinez could have been an almost teacher! We were talking before the panel/speed dating began and I found out that she taught at my high school the year after I graduated. Talk about small world! Of course, finding out she’s a violinist, has a literary crush on John Green (for his intelligent writing), and knits just made me like her even more.
- Hearing Michelle Hodkin describe her book as Romeo & Juliet meets Alfred Hitchcock. That line alone made me want to read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer even more. Of course, learning that she was a lawyer and some of the cases she worked made her fascinating as a person. I wish we could have talked to her for hours instead of just 8 minutes.
And that my friends, is my ALA in a nutshell. Other than that I discovered how passionate I am about seeing changes happen in YALSA and hope to somehow help them come about. I know I left a lot of things out, but I feel like this post is too long as it is! If there is anything in particular you want to know about, just leave me a comment.