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!)


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.


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.


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.


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

Teen Book Festivals

It seems like I keep hearing about more and more teen book festivals happening around the country. These one- or two-day events usually feature a large roster of YA authors to talk about their books and teen lit in general, sign books, and interact with readers. It looks like most of these festivals are teen-focused and are often organized by librarians and teachers, with assistance from local bookstores. I’m a little envious that there isn’t one near me, so I figured I’d live vicariously by visiting a lot of their sites and rounding up the festivals! Let me know if I’ve left any off the list.

NoVaTEEN Book Festival
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Arlington, VA

Colorado Teen Literature Conference
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Denver, CO

The Greater Houston Teen Book Convention
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Houston, TX

Pasadena Teen Book Fest
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Pasadena, CA

Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Rochester, NY

Round Rock, TX

Austin Teen Book Festival
Austin, TX

Charleston, SC

YAK Fest
Fort Worth, TX

Primarily for Librarians and Educators

YALSA YA Literature Symposium
November 14-16, 2014
Austin, TX

Young Adult Literature Conference
Naperville, IL

Major Book Festivals with a Large YA Component

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 12-13, 2014
Los Angeles, CA

National Book Festival
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Washington, DC

ALA Midwinter 2011 Recap

Since this year’s ALA Midwinter Meeting was within driving distance for me and I could crash at my parents’ house, I definitely had to make the trip. Overall, I had a fantastic time meeting up with old and new friends and learning about upcoming titles as well as some of the best of the past year!


After my 4-hour drive (and listening to half of How To Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford!), I finally made it down to the San Diego Convention Center around 5. I met up with some of my friends from library school to wander the exhibits. I managed to locate most of my most wanted ARCs and had a nice conversation with the people at Candlewick about Melina Marchetta and her new book, Piper’s Son. After dinner (Thai food, yum!), I headed to the YA Book Blogger meet-up! Drinks were provided by the lovely Baen Books. I got a chance to chat with Abby the Librarian, Kelly from Stacked, Julia from Spine Label, Sarah from GreenBeanTeenQueen, and Margo from The Fourth Musketeer. Great to meet all of you — your enthusiasm has encouraged me to blog more frequently this year!


My schedule for Saturday was pretty sparse. I hit up the exhibits again and introduced myself to Alexandra Bracken, a YA author who works in publishing and a fellow College of William and Mary alum. Later in the morning I went to the Harper Collins Children’s/YA preview. I love their new blog, The Page Turn, and was excited to hear about their spring and summer titles. Some highlights for me include: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson (sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes), Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer (about two girls competing in a singing competition), Pink by Lili Wilkinson (about a girl questioning everything about her identity and performing in a school musical), Bumped by Megan McCafferty (dystopian fiction about teens used as surrogate mothers), and Withering Tights by Louise Rennison (the start of a new series by the popular British author). I’m also interested in the upcoming kid’s book by the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy!

In the afternoon, I sat in on a committee meeting for Best Fiction for Young Adults for about two hours. Throughout the whole conference, they spent a few minutes talking about each of the 191 nominees for the list! I loved hearing other librarians’ opinions on books I’d read and getting a lot of new books to add to my ever-growing to-read list. Some books with lots of positive feedback from the committee included Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams, Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams, and The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith.


My primary reason for attending on Sunday was the teen feedback session for the Best Fiction for Young Adults list. All of the teens were fun to listen to, well-spoken, and didn’t seem too intimidated by sharing both positive and negative feedback with a room full of adults. One 14-year-old boy stole the show with his hilarious comments (re: Rick Riordan’s Red Pyramid, “Wow, Rick, didn’t realize you were just in it for the money.”) There was a lot of love for Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, The Cardturner by Louis Sachar, Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs by Ron Koertge, Green Witch by Alice Hoffman, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, Stolen by Lucy Christopher, Crazy by Han Nolan, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

The final BFYA list is up on the YALSA site!

I didn’t get to stay for the Youth Media Awards, but did watch the live stream. None of the Printz winners were big surprises (for a change) — now to actually read some of them!

ALA 2011 Midwinter Meeting

I can’t believe it’s only days away from the 2011 American Library Association Midwinter meeting! This year, the meeting will take place in San Diego from January 7 to 11. The meeting mostly involves association business — committee meetings, discussion groups, institutes, and other meetings related to the nitty-gritty work of the association — but still has plenty of options for those not involved with those groups. Luckily I live in Southern California and get to crash at my parent’s house for the weekend, so I get to catch a few days of the meeting without breaking the bank.

I’m looking forward to:

  • The Great YA Librarian Blogger Meetup: Looking forward to meeting some other YA bloggers! I hope it won’t be as crazy overwhelming as the tweet-up at last year’s midwinter
  • Publisher previews: Many of the major publishing houses have preview events during the meeting where they booktalk their upcoming titles and usually give away advance copies. A good way to get some inside scoop!
  • Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Feedback session: Hear local teens talk about their favorite picks for the 2011 BFYA list. This is a great event to hear teens talk candidly about the books they’ve been reading, especially if you’re not currently working in a library or don’t have an active group of teens.
  • Other committee meetings: A lot of committees have closed meetings, but there are enough with open sessions to keep conference goers occupied. Fully-registered attendees are welcome to stop by the meetings for as long as they want and listen in on the discussion. Popping into meetings is a great way to spend some downtime.
  • Exhibit hall: Of course the exhibit hall is always full of fun and shiny things, like raffles, free swag, and best of all, ARCs! I definitely have a couple books I’m looking for (Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, and What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen are at the top of my list), but the best part is picking up a few hidden gems you haven’t heard about yet.
  • Youth Media Awards: While I won’t get to attend the event in person, I’m still looking forward to seeing what the committees select for the big children’s and YA awards! I will be posting a compilation of Mock Printz lists later this week to see what the buzz in the library world is like.

Read on for some more tips on attending the meeting (reprise of my post from last year)…

Continue reading “ALA 2011 Midwinter Meeting”

ALA 2010 Midwinter Meeting Tips: Part 2

This is part 2 of my tips for the ALA 2010 Midwinter Meeting. For more, see part 1.

Recommended Events for Youth Services Librarians

YALSA 201 from 4 to 5 p.m., Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Room 160A: Chat with: 1) members of YALSA’s Nominating Committee, which identifies candidates for YALSA’s Board of Directors and certain awards committees; 2) members of YALSA’s Publishing Committee, who help oversee YALSA’s book publishing program; 3 ) various committee chairs & conveners and learn what it’s like to lead a YALSA committee, jury, taskforce, discussion group or interest group; 4) and more!

YALSA Happy Hour from 5 to 7 p.m., Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Grand Ballroom Foyer. Enjoy free drinks and hors d’oeuvres, mingle with other YALSA members, and win cool YALSA swag. This event is sponsored by Disney/Hyperion Books.

Games, Gadgets & Gurus from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center Room 153 A/B. Come play games — both board and video; demo gadgets — like e-readers, mobile phones, digital audio recorders, video cameras and the latest software; and take advantage of the opportunity chat one-on-one with a tech guru who will work with you to troubleshoot your most pressing tech problem. Ticketed event, $40.

The Boston Public Library (BPL) Teen Librarians invite fellow Teen Librarians to come to the BPL Young Adult (Teen) Room, located at 700 Boylston Street. Tours and a meet and greet will be provided from 9 to 12 noon and 2 to 5 p.m. Coffee and refreshments will be available in the morning.

NMRT Orientation from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center room 151 A/B. The program will provide a fun and informative introduction to the Midwinter Meeting. You will learn from the pros how to decipher the conference program, navigate the exhibits, the structures of ALA and NMRT, and ways to get involved.

YALSA Leadership Development from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Boston Park Plaza Imperial Ballroom. This is a leadership training session for YALSA’s Committee, Jury and Taskforce Chairs. Never been a Chair, but thinking about being one? Come to this event to learn the leadership basics. A continental breakfast will be served from 8:00 to 8:30.

Visit The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Bus leaves at 10 a.m. from the Convention Center. Includes presentations by children’s book historian, critic, and author of Golden Legacy, Leonard S. Marcus and award-winning author, Norton Juster; lunch; opportunity to visit the rest of the Museum; and a reception with the authors. $50 per person. RSVP directly with The Carle by Friday, January 8, 2010, at (413) 658-1155 or by email to

HarperCollins Spring/Summer 2010 Title Presentation from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Westin Boston Waterfront Burroughs Room. Light refreshments will be served.

ALA After-Hours Social from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. at The Black Rose, 160 State Street (between India St & Chatham Row).

Chair & Convener Drop-in Web 2.0 Training from 8 to 9 a.m. at Seaport Hotel Waterfront IB/IC. Get some hands-on help and practical tips from the Web Advisory Committee on how to use YALSA’s password protected wiki, ALA Connect and other online resources to help you accomplish work and connect with group members between conferences.

YALSA Candidates’ Forum from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Seaport Hotel Waterfront III. Meet the candidates for YALSA’s 2010 election slate and participate in a Q&A.

Best Books for Young Adults Teen Session from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center Room 258 A/B. Hear local Boston teens talk about their favorite picks for the 2010 BBYA list. This is a great event to hear teens talk candidly about the books they’ve been reading, especially if you’re not currently working in a library or don’t have an active group of teens.

YALSA Discussion & Interest Group Open House from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center Room Room 153 A/B. Want to get more involved in YALSA? All of YALSA’s Discussion and Interest Groups will be at this event. Come learn a little about each and decide which one(s) you’d like to opt into, or learn how to start a new one.

YALSA Blogger Meetup from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center Room 153C. For current YALSA bloggers to meet and for interested members to learn more about contributing to the blog.

Freedom to Read Foundation’s (FTRF) fifth annual author event, to be held in conjunction with ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table Midwinter Social at 6 p.m. at the Community Church of Boston, 565 Boylston St. Lesléa Newman (Heather Has Two Mommies) and Michael Willhoite (Daddy’s Roommate) will be discussing and signing copies of their groundbreaking books. GLBTRT’s Stonewall Book Award Ceremony will begin at 7 and the authors will speak and sign books beginning at 7:30. Refreshments will be provided. Donations will be accepted at the door to cover costs and support the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Conable Scholarship Fund, and the GLBTRT is conducting a book drive of “useful and current” titles for GLBT youth to donate to the Community Church of Boston’s resource library.

Youth Media Awards from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Grand Ballroom. Awards to be announced include: Alex Awards, Andrew Carnegie Medal, Coretta Scott King Book Awards, John Newbery Medal, Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, Margaret A. Edwards Award, May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award, Michael L. Printz Award, Mildred L. Batchelder Award, Odyssey Award, Pura Belpré Award, Randolph Caldecott Medal, Robert F. Sibert Medal, Schneider Family Book Award, Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, and the William C. Morris Award.

Joint Youth Division Member Reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Westin Copley Place America Center. Come here to unwind, mingle with peers and enjoy light hors d’oevres as well as a cash bar.

Morris & Nonfiction Award Program & Presentation from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at the Westin Copley Place Essex Center/South. Come to this new and free event and help YALSA celebrate the 2010 winners for the Morris Award and first-ever YA Nonfiction Award! Open bar and light hors d’oeuvres from 7:30 to 8. From 8 to 9:30 authors are invited to speak about their winning titles. Mingle with the authors and enjoy more refreshments from 9:30 to 10. Authors attending include nonfiction nominees Sally Walker, Tanya Stone and Phillip Hoose.

Harry Potter fans may also want to check out Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Museum of Science. The exhibit features more than 200 authentic costumes and props from the Harry Potter films, all displayed in settings inspired by the film sets. View iconic items such as Harry’s original wand and eyeglasses, the Marauder’s Map, and even pull your own Mandrake. Adult tickets are $26.

See the YALSA Wiki for more about the conference and things to do in Boston. The YALSA blog also had a post about the best of Boston.

Also check out the public Google Wave for the conference, the Official Midwinter Wiki, and the midwinter Twitter account @alamw.

ALA 2010 Midwinter Meeting Tips: Part 1

The American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting is coming up quickly. This year’s conference takes place in Boston from January 15 to 19. The meeting mostly involves association business — committee meetings, discussion groups, institutes, and other meetings related to the nitty-gritty work of the association. I’ve never attended the midwinter meeting, but I’ve attended a couple Annual Conferences. I thought I’d share some general conference tips for first-timers and those looking for new ways to enjoy and benefit from conference attendance.

General Tips

  • Wear comfortable, ice-friendly shoes! Conferences always involve a lot of walking and a wintry Boston will provide additional obstacles.
  • Dress presentably and in layers. You will be networking with colleagues, so look professional, but the combination of cold weather and unpredictable meeting room temperatures require some flexibility.
  • Have business cards on hand with at least your name and e-mail address. Also include your Twitter name, website, or any other social networking contact info to expand your online network. VistaPrint offers 250 free cards with a preset template or more flexible options starting at $20.
  • Travel light. You will accumulate lots of freebies, handouts, and other documents, so start the day with minimum accoutrements, especially if you don’t plan on returning to your hotel room during the day.
  • Don’t try to do everything. It’s tempting to attend every meeting, speaker series, and social event, but you will get tired eventually! Take a leisurely lunch or plan an afternoon to see some Boston sights for a break from the conference.
  • Strike up conversations with people you don’t know. Making connections and sharing ideas are the most valuable aspects of a conference, so introduce yourself to exhibitors, people you see at mixers, and those sitting next to you on the shuttle buses.
  • Step outside your librarian comfort zone. Just because you’re a public librarian or a school librarian doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mingle with academic librarians. Attend events that sound interesting, even if they don’t directly apply to you or your current job. You never know what you might learn!

Exhibit Hall Tips

All fully-registered attendees can enter the exhibit hall, as well as anyone who purchases an Exhibits Only registration. The hall will be packed with booths from lots of library-related vendors including publishers, book wholesalers, software companies, library supply companies, furniture vendors, and more. Plus, the various divisions of ALA will have displays and people on hand to discuss what they do and offer for members. If you’re not in the market for anything in particular, I recommend browsing the aisles one by one to see what’s out there. For the most part, exhibitors are there to sell stuff to librarians, so they’re open to conversation if you have questions about their products. Some booths will definitely be more eye-catching than others and many will offer freebies ranging from pens and buttons to bags and books. You don’t need to engage with every booth you pass by — that would take forever — but it can be nice to make conversation with exhibitors of products you’re currently interested in, or might be in the future. Your exhibits card allows the exhibitors to swipe the magnetic strip and load up their database with your contact information. They often require this to enter into a contest (no more dropping off your business card) or to sign up for a mailing list. It’s really easy and there will be lots of fun giveaways, but be prepared for some e-mail marketing after the conference.

A big draw in the exhibit hall, especially for newbies, are the publishers’ booths. This is where you’ll find the Advance Reader’s Copies (ARCs) and the author signings. Many publishers will also have books available for sale at a discount and copies of their catalogs for perusal. They are also a great place to make connections with the sales teams and hear about upcoming books. ARCs will usually be piled in stacks around the publisher’s booth. These are free for the taking! Obviously don’t grab 10 copies of your favorite author’s new book, but if something catches your eye, it’s yours. Publishers often stagger the ARCs they put out, so you can find something different on Sunday than on Saturday, or they may have certain ARCs by request only. Really popular titles, like last year’s Catching Fire, might have an advertised release time that people will line up for. Others may only be available when the author is signing. If there’s something specific you’re looking for, inquire with the publisher, otherwise just pick up what’s available and maybe you’ll find your favorite book of 2010. Remember that wheeled carts aren’t allowed, so come prepared with a sturdy bag or plan to grab a freebie bag. ALA even has an onsite post office to mail back the books and other giveaways you accumulate. Located in the Exhibit Hall at the back of the 2500 Aisle, the post office is open Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and Monday 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Attendees receive one mailing envelope or tube, compliments of ALA. Additional ALA envelopes or tubes are $1.

To map out your exhibit hall visit in advance, take a look at the 2010 Midwinter Meeting Cognotes Preview. It includes an alphabetical listing of exhibitors and a map.

Open Committee Meetings

A lot of committees have closed meetings, but there are enough with open sessions to keep conference goers occupied. Fully-registered attendees are welcome to stop by the meetings for as long as they want and the committee chair will often ask for short comments from the audience. Read more for a schedule of open meetings.
Continue reading “ALA 2010 Midwinter Meeting Tips: Part 1”