ALA Midwinter = unexpected, but a lot of fun

So, ALA Midwinter was in Boston last week. After my experience in Chicago, I was completely hooked and was a little sad that I couldn’t swing it. However, after arming my boss with a good wish list I was okay just knowing that good books would still make their way back to me! And after all, I’ll be going to the next 2 years worth of Midwinters & Annuals thanks to my new committee position. Of course (as most of you know by now) plans got changed…a lot. My boss unfortunately was unable to go and offered me a chance to go in her place. (Have I mentioned I have the BEST boss?) And while it was less than 24 hours before I had to leave, well, this was not something I could not say no to! After a little scrambling to do last minute packing and securing a ride to the airport (<3 you Jess!) I was ready to head off to Boston!

Friday morning saw me up at 5am in order to get ready and get to Midway in time for my 9:30am flight. (Again much, much love to Jess!) Bags checked, planed boarded, and soon I was in Boston, MA! Right away, I knew my day would be a full one. I barely had time to eat lunch, check into the hotel, and get my badge before running off to a meeting with EgmontUSA. This had to be my absolutely favorite part of the conference. I got the chance to sit one-on-one with people from EgmontUSA. As some of you may know, I love EgmontUSA and already try to do my best to keep up with what they’re doing. I think I surprised them by how much I did know, especially when I was like “Already know that one!” and would ramble on about it. Yes, there was indeed lots and lots of rambling mainly thanks to favorites like The Cinderella Society. After a while, they started to joke that I should stand at their booth and “sell” the book to others! (And, really, any time ladies!) In the end, I left with several fantastic ARCS that I can’t wait to read, such as False Princess, Things I Knew About Love, Raised by Wolves, and The Rise of Renegade X.

After the meeting, I had just enough time to swing by the early opening of the exhibits and managed to score my top-wants including Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Radiant Shadows, Perchance to Dream, and Guardian of the Gate. To say I walked away a very happy girl was an understatement! But there was no time to rest because I had to hurry back to hotel for a dinner at Sel de la Terre. Oh my god, can I just rant about the food for a bit! It was absolutely fantastic! I had sweet potato soup, Roasted Chicken, and ended it with a chocolate cake, marshmallow, and ice cream dessert. I was a bit out of my realm here, but it was fun to connect with other librarians and even a new twitter friend! We got back to the room quite late and I was more than ready for bed!

Saturday morning offered no chance for sleep! I was up and out of the hotel in time to catch the shuttle to make a 7:15am breakfast with HaperCollins. Can I just say ARC-Heaven?! This breakfast was for their juv/ya fiction and they had almost every upcoming title out to take. But, you should be proud of me, I practiced restraint and choose carefully which books I wanted. (Ok, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t still get a bagful, but it’s for the teens, right?!) Breakfast was very nice and I got to talk to several HaperCollins reps and fellow librarians. It was a very pleasurable experience and one I hope to get a chance to go to again!

After breakfast, I ran back to the hotel, dumped my books, and then headed back to the exhibits. I was lucky enough to met up with Gail and walk around with her a bit. I would tell you some of the cool titles I got, but my exhibit time is starting to all run together and I can’t remember what I got when. (When my box arrives I’ll make a master list of all I got) I do remember leading Gail around and making sure she got the books she really wanted. We must have spent a good 3-4 hours walking around with a lunch break thrown in, too. As we walked, we bumped into both Laura and Mitali. At this point, a migraine and exhaustion got the best of me and  I headed back to hotel for a while.

After a little nap, I was feeling a bit better and decided to try the Tweet-Up. Oh my, can I just say I felt so overwhelmed at this? There were at least 100 people in a small space and it was utter chaos in my eyes. My shy nature took over and I was very ready to run away. I managed to last an hour before I slipped away. My next adventure was go to another dinner, but by the time I got back to the hotel I was feeling sick and decided to stay in for the night. I enjoyed a little twitter talk before collapsing for night.

Sunday was definitely my busiest day. I was up and out very early again for another HarperCollins breakfast. This time it was for picture books. This is one of those events my boss hinted that she wanted me to go to, so I made sure it happened. Again more talk with fellow librarians and reps and a few picture book galleys to take back to the office/co-workers. Then it was off to the exhibits, but I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the book section. Instead I wandered over to the other side and hit up the more research/services area. I got to see a demo of an online-based summer reading, which I’m crossing my fingers that we may eventually end up on! (Or at least something similar!) After that, I raced off to Random House’s Spring/Summer preview. It was fun to hear them talk about the different titles coming out. Several I had never heard of and really am kind of excited about like Party and Folly.

I got a little break for lunch before heading over to the BBYA Teen Session.  I managed to catch one of the committee meeting last time and was excited to see what the teens had to say. I ran into Mitali and sat with her during the session. I was kind of surprised by what the teens did and didn’t get up to talk about. Some of the books they were excited about flew under my radar, while I was sad to seem some of my favorites passed over. I think my favorite quote come from one of the teens as she said “do all authors think that teens are depressed? If we are, it’s because we read books like this!” She got quite a bit of applause and it was a good reminder to all that just because teens have issues, doesn’t mean they want to read about them! Don’t forget that authors! In other words, please, please keep the fun, less-angsty books coming!

It was back to the hotel to get ready for another dinner at Restaurant Stella. Mm, a girl could really get used to this stuff! The food here was my favorite of the whole conference. They had these rice balls with Parmesan cheese that were to die for! Ok, maybe I was a little out of my element again, but who can complain about good food and fun company? Not to mention, I ran into one of my old co-workers/friends and got to catch up with her a bit. I think seeing her was one of the best surprises of the trip!

Monday still did not allow for any sleeping in. I mean, I had to be up to “hear” the Youth Media Awards announced. I wish I could have been there in person, but the shuttle schedule didn’t allow me to get over there in time, so I settled for the webcast/live chatroom.There were a couple of surprises, especially for the Printz. I haven’t read ANY of the Printz winners, so I’m withholding my comments right now. However, I don’t know that the winners have high teen appeal, but at this point I’m not sure that most of the Printz winners really do. At any rate, it was nice to experience the announcements with some of my other twitter friends.

After that, it was back onto the shuttle to mail a box of books home (48 lbs!) and walk away thankful that no one stabbed me because I had the tape/labels/any other shipping supplies. I have learned that going to ship books on the last day right when they open is a bad, bad idea! Never, ever again! My ALA experience ended with another short walk around the exhibits to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Plus, since it was the last day, display books were dirt cheap! I walked away with Naughty List and Match Made in High School for $4.00! Got to love that!

And that my dear readers, it all I have to tell. I’m sure I’ve missed some things, but that is all the major highlights. To say I had fun is an understatement. To say I left exhausted is an even BIGGER understatment! But all in all, it was a great experience. I can’t wait for Annual in D.C., which promises to be an even bigger deal. After all, putting Katie, Sarah, and myself in the same hotel = party time. Only 5 more months!!!! I swear it needs to get here faster!

6 comments

  1. Party hotel, here we come!

    I cannot wait for ALA. Started looking at what programs I’ll be attending and I just cannot contain my excitement!

  2. Sounds like it was a blast! And yes, annual needs to get here fast so we can party!:) I don’t think I could handle the tweet up either-too crazy.

    And I agree that not many of the Printz winners have a lot of teen appeal. I hope that starts to change. I’ve only read Charles and Emma from this year’s list and I enjoyed it and was surprised by how much I liked it, but I still don’t think it’ll be picked up by a lot of teens. I’m hoping to read all the others before ALA so I can chat with everyone about them.

  3. Don’t forget you’ll get to see me some too!! 😉

    It sounds like you had a fantabulous time in Boston. I’m jealous for two reasons, awesome books and you were in my hometown! I wish my work was as cool as this sounds!

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