ALA in a Nutshell

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

  1. 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.)
  2. 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)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


ALA: More than Books!

I’ve said it before that ALA is not about books. Yes, it’s a perk, but ALA is about the meetings and networking. So here are some events you should think about checking out.

Selection Committee Meetings

There are some selection committees that are open to the public. In fact my group Fabulous Films for Young Adults is open! And I can tell you we will be voting on titles and discussing new additions. If you want to check us out, we meet Saturday and Sunday 4:00 -5:30pm in the JW Marriott Endymion room.

Another open meeting that is well work the time is the Teen Session for Best Fiction for Young Adults. This is perhaps the one of my favorite things to attend. It’s great hearing what teens say, which often times surprises me. I can’t wait to see what they say this time! The session will take place 1:30 – 3:30pm in Conference Hall Rm 255.

Conference Sessions

There are other sessions that are going on, but these are the ones I’m the most excited about and planning on attending. To see all that YALSA is offering check out the YALSA Wiki

Serving Older Teens and Twenty-Somethings, Saturday 8:00am to 10am in Conference Hall Rm 383. Join YALSA’s Serving New Adults Interest Group to explore ways that libraries are reaching out to this unique but often underserved group.

Best Practices in Library Websites for Teens, Sunday 8:00-10:00am Conference Hall Rm 356. We’ve all seen the statistics about how much time teens spend online. So, is your library’s web site attractive and engaging to teens? Attend this session to find out simple and inexpensive strategies that other libraries have successfully implemented to ramp up their online presence and draw teens to their web resources. Tips for using youth participation to retool and expand your web presence will also be explored.

Trends in YA Services: Using Mobile Devices to Serve Teens, Sunday 10:30-12:00 in Conference Hall Rm 383. More and more individuals, including teens, are relying on smartphones and similar devices for Internet access, communication, information and more. Attend this session to hear about how some libraries are connecting with their teen patrons via mobile devices and explore simple strategies that you can implement at your own library, regardless of the size of your budget or your technological expertise. Speakers include: Patrick F. Taylor Sci & Tech Academy students Enjoli Gilbert and Courtney Beamer, Jennifer Valesquez, San Antonio Public Library, Renee McGrath, Nassau County Library System, Long Island, NY, Kerrilynn Hurley, Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library, and Jack Martin, New York Public Library.

Networking Opportunities

While I can’t share the deets on the publishing opportunities I get to attend there is a couple open events that anyone can attend.

ALA Dance Party, Friday, June 24/Saturday, June 25 10:00pm – 4:00 am at OZ New Orleans (800 Bourbon Street)

The Great YA Blogger Meetup, Saturday, June 25 from 8:00-11:00pm at Tommy’s Wine Bar (746 Tchoupitoulas Street)


If you’re coming to NOLA I hope to see you there! And if you’re not, I promise I’ll be doing write-ups of all these events and much more when I get home!

ALA: Floor Tips

Soooooo, Katie is STILL without power so I’m winging this one alone. Today I’ll be discussing ALA Floor Tips.

Clothing Tips

  1. Wear business casual. Yes, technically you can wear whatever you please, but this is a professional conference. Dress the part. Not only will you blend in better, but you will be treated professionally as well.
  2. Wear comfy shoes. This goes without saying since you’ll be doing a lot of walking!
  3. Wear two layers of socks. Believe me, you’ll thank me later when your feet aren’t screaming as much.

Floor Tips

  1. Take it easy. The ALA floor is huge and there’s no reason to sped through it! Take your time and relax if you need a break.
  2. Bring a good bag. You can get tote bags on the floor, but a backpack really goes a long way for your shoulders.
  3. Have plenty of business cards. Believe me you’ll need them!
  4. Be considerate. I think this goes both for when talking to people, when walking, and when taking books. Being pleasant will get you a long way.
  5. Don’t just grab! I know ARCs are pretty and it’s tempting to take every one you see. But, really, DON’T! Take what you can read/what you’re interested in. Remember a lot of librarians use ALA as a chance to see what is being published. And in my case, all my ARCS go directly to my teens. (Who LOVE to see what I bring home!)  ALSO, talk to the publishers. See what they’re recommending. It’s a great way to make new connections with the publishers.
  6. Network, network, network. Seriously. People think ALA is about books, but it’s not. It’s about the people you meet and the connections you make along the way. It’s thanks to ALA that I have an AMAZING support group of other librarians!

I think I covered the major tips, but if you have questions about anything don’t hesitate to ask! Leave it in the comments and I promise to respond.


Any Suggestions?

Okay, so today I totally fail at posting. It’s been a crazy, long day. My teen program is doing way better than expected. Now this is NOT something to complain about, but when I found out that we’re already out of first level prizes, well it threw a tiny wrench in my plans today! But honestly, I am NOT complaining. I’m just a little shocked still. I don’t think I’ve ever had 79 teens signed up this fast! But yeah, so that’s why I don’t have a full out post today.

HOWEVER, this is a slightly good thing! ALA is next week and I’ve been thinking I want to do a tips/pre-conference highlight. What I would love to know from you guys is what you would want to know! This will be my 5th ALA and I’ve learned a lot along the way that I would love to pass on. SO, in the comments ask me anything you want to know about ALA and I’ll cover it in a post next week.

ALA Recap: Being on a Committee

As some of you may know I was appointed to a YALSA committee this year: Fabulous Films for Young Adult. I filled out the selection form on whim and never in a million years thought I would get one. Believe me when I say there was lots of jumping/squeeing when I got the email. Luckily, my library was just as excited and gave me the green light to participate.

Serving on Fab Films has been amazing. It may be one of the lesser known lists, but that doesn’t mean it is any less work….or fun. We had well over 100 films nominated for our theme “Other Places/Other Times”. While this was a GREAT theme, it was very hard to define. What qualified as other places or other times? I think this what we debated about the most throughout the year. It wasn’t until the Midwinter meeting that we truly gave it a definition, which helped narrow the list down some more.

I’m not sure what else I can or cannot say about the decision process. We were an open committee, so I don’t think things have to be hush-hush, but I’m going to err on the safety. I will tell you there wasn’t a lot of fighting or debating during our meetings. There are only one title that I can think of that got even close to heated, but in the end we came to a mutual agreement. I was glad that several of the movies that I loved got onto the list, such as Pan’s Labyrinth, Serenity, and  League of their Own. All in all, I am very happy with the 40 titles we selected!

Since this is a two-year commitment, I will be serving again next year. We have some ideas in mind for a theme, but won’t be able to vote on it until Feb 1st when our new members officially start. However, if the one we have in mind wins, it’ll be a GREAT theme. I’ll be sure to let you guys know when it’s official and hope all of you will nominate a title or two!

If you have any specific questions about being on a committee, don’t hesitate to ask! I’ll answer any question that I can.