ALA Annual 2014 Recap

This year’s ALA Annual Conference was my fourth. I also attended in 2007, 2008, and 2012, but this was my first time attending as an employed librarian. (I actually did my first round of interviews for my current position back at Annual in 2008!)

Friday

An early morning to get to the Flamingo hotel for the YALSA Pre-Conference Workshop. There was some disorganization on YALSA’s part — there were not originally enough chairs for participants because they let in people who had not pre-registered. They eventually got it all worked out, but not the best way to start the day. The workshop ended up not really being what I thought it would be (I was expecting a more hands-on workshop related to collaboration and connected learning), but all of the presenters were fantastic and it was an invigorating start to the conference. I wrote up a full recap for the YALSAblog, so check that out for more details related to the content.

To kill a bit of time, I visited the Polaroid store (fun!) and got a Sprinkles cupcake (yum!). Then I met up with a library school classmate to hit the exhibits opening, which was, as usual, a complete madhouse. (And, as usual, I never found the free champagne.) I was very judicious with which ARCs I picked up, but I did get a couple that interested me including Garth Nix’s Clariel.

Saturday

First thing Saturday morning, I hit up Guerrilla Storytime. This was hands-down the best conference learning experience I’ve ever had. Though I’m solely a teen librarian at the moment, I still hold a torch for children’s services. Kudos to all of the storytime ninjas for coming up with this format and spreading it far and wide over the last year. There were so many great ideas shared and now I want to be a children’s librarian! All of the notes from the weekend are already up on the Storytime Underground site. I would also love to use the format to share ideas for teen services. (Maybe look for a future post on this topic?)

Later in the morning, I also hit up a Reader’s Advisory panel, since I’m on my system’s Reader’s Services committee. Some of my takeaways from this presentation:

  • Reading is not passive, it’s creative. Every reader rewrites a book as they read.
  • The library is not in the business of books, it’s in the business of reading.
  • Libraries should help people find what they like, help them understand why they like it, help them make connections from books to their lives, and help them share
  • In finding materials to enjoy, scarcity is not the problem, there are endless to choose from. It’s picking just one that is hard. That’s where librarians come in.
  • Library should focus on finding specific things for each patron, beyond what’s popular
  • When creating booklists, it’s good to include one or two popular items that people will recognize to validate the other choices on the list.

In the afternoon, we had our first in-person Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers discussion. I’m the administrative assistant for the committee, so I don’t get to discuss titles, but I help keep the meetings running smoothly. It was fun to meet everyone in person and there were some lively discussions about the first half of this year’s nominated titles.

After our meeting concluded, we zoomed over to the Wynn for the Penguin Young Readers cocktail party. We had a special cocktail called “The Librarian” (delicious) and got to hear from several authors, including Jandy Nelson (love), Marie Lu, Katherin Howe, Ally Condie, and Meg Wolitzer. In the evening, I was treated to dinner by Egmont USA with some other librarians and Len Vlahos, author of The Scar Boys.

Sunday

More authors were in store for Sunday morning at the YA Author Coffee Klatch. This is basically speed dating on steroids, with dozens of tables full of librarians and YA authors rotating around every few minutes to talk. At my table we had Marcus Sedgwick, Paolo Bacigalupi, Matt de la Pena, Mary Pearson, Caragh O’Brien, Ryan Gaudin, Jim Di Bartolo, and Jonathan Maberry. I also hit up the The Future of Library Services for and with Teens session. I didn’t take any notes, but I did do a couple tweets!

In the afternoon, we had our second Quick Picks meeting to discuss the rest of the nominated titles so far. We don’t make the final list until Midwinter, so nothing to report yet. We love field nominations, so if you’ve read anything that might resonate with reluctant readers published between July 2013 and December 2014, please nominate! Then I was so tired from the heat and the walking around, that I lounged around my hotel Sunday night and did some reading.

Monday

Back home. Looking forward to Midwinter in Chicago (except for the cold)!

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