ALA Annual Washington D.C. 2010 Recap

ALA Annual was a blast this year!  It has taken me a bit to get my recap together as I am working summer school right now, but here it is.  (Better late than never – behind the cut!)

Got in to DC, checked in to hotel and picked up badge holder and other stuff at the convention center.  YALSA asked me to represent them at the Spectrum Scholars Professional Options Fair.  I’m so glad I did!  I met some great people who are new/new-ish to the professional and had a chance to tell them all about the benefits of being a YALSA member.

I registered for the day-long YALSA pre-conference, It’s Perfectly Normal: Dealing with “Sensitive” Topics in Teen Services.  It was a good session.  A panel of various experts talked in the morning, and then in the afternoon we heard from authors that have written about sensitive issues (David Levithan, Laurie Halse Anderson, etc).

I came away with one point stuck in my head.  During a discussion on providing teens with LGBTQ literature, someone brought up the political desire for libraries to provide a “balanced” perspective on homosexuality.  Someone else pointed out that when it comes to minority groups, homosexuals are usually the only minority on which we are asked to provide a “balanced” view.  We don’t balance our collections with materials that say being female/black/Asian/etc. is immoral/a sin/etc.  We provide different opinions on subjects that might have to do with those minorities (feminism, immigration), but most libraries quit carrying the KKK-associated materials by now.  This point has really stayed with me.

After the pre-con, I attended YALSA 101 as the Local Arrangements Committee chair to answer questions about D.C. and navigating Annual.

Then, I met up with my friend Anne and we made a quick stop in the exhibits before heading to YALSA’s happy hour, where I was able to catch up with Jeff, a friend of mine from grad school.  After that, we headed to the Kidlit happy hour, where I caught up with Tiffany, and met Michelle and Kelly for the first time (although I had already become internet friends with them). By then, I was tired and the happy hour was crazy loud, so we called it a day.

Saturday morning with YALSA Leadership Development.  YALSA offers this for chairs at Mid-winter and Annual and it is always extremely beneficial.  The YALSA All-Committee immediately followed, where I was able to meet fellow members of  Organization and Bylaws, one of the committees I am on for the coming year.  Afterwards, I fulfilled one of my duties on the Local Arrangements Committee and helped set up for the Margaret A. Edwards luncheon.

I had some free time so I perused the exhibits some more before I attended a couple of programs.   Finding the Right Balance looked at kids’ privacy rights, parental “demands,” and how we as librarians fit in to that.  Lights! Cameras! Booktrailers! was a great program.  The panel was made up of librarians who have created booktrailers or had students create them, and an author who is heavily involved in creating trailers for her work – Simone Elkeles.  She is a riot and her booktrailers are awesome!  All the booktrailers shown were very inspirational.

After a day of conferencing, I went to have dinner with a great group of people!  Tiffany planned the dinner at Austin Grill where there had to have been around 20 of us.  Michelle recaps it better than I can in her ALA post.

I had to be at the YA Author Coffee Klatch at 8:30 to help set-up so I was only able to catch the first 20 minutes of the session devoted to book blogs done by Liz Burns, Mother Reader, and 100 Scope Notes.  What I saw was great, though!  Then it was off to the Coffee Klatch, where I was able to grab a spot at a table after setting up.  It was a whirlwind of authors, and I wish it was longer than one hour (especially because it took about 15 minutes to get going) but I loved it!

The Alex Awards were up next where David Small spoke. He is amazing!  I then attended a program on self-censorship in libraries.

After that was over, I realized I was hitting my ALA overload.  I had done myself a huge favor by getting a hotel room so I wouldn’t have to commute in and out every day.  To save money, I was sharing the room, which is great for the bank account but not so great for my sanity.  As I have gotten older, I have accepted my need for a certain amount of quiet and my own space.  As polite and easy-going as my roommates were, by Sunday my limitations were getting the best of me (and the hotel bed was doing a number on my back).  I called my husband, who came downtown to rescue me for the evening since I didn’t have anything else going on that day.  (He is a saint.)  This worked in my favor as it gave me a chance to get a bunch of books and other swag home in his car.  I was able to decompress, hang out with him and Brinkley (who had a happiness meltdown when I got home), and get a solid night’s sleep in my own bed.

(Side note: My friend Sean shared with me that he has a three-day rule when it comes to conferences. He knows he can go for three days, and after that he needs to go home or at least get a break by doing something non-conference related. Sunday afternoon was three days to the minute, since I got in to town Thursday afternoon, so I think I need to adopt Sean’s three day rule for myself.)

I went back in to D.C. on the metro, arriving a bit late due to a broken train.  (I am not sure I have ever had a 100% successful ride on the D.C. metro.)  I attended a program: Reaching Reluctant Readers through the YALSA/WWE WrestleMania Reading Challenge. I was disappointed in the attendance considering John Green was a speaker, but I guess they didn’t advertise this.  I’m the incoming chair of the WrestleMania Reading Challenge Jury so the low-level of interest is something I want to ponder.

Next on my agenda was the YALSA Membership meeting, and then I wandered the exhibits a bit more.  I didn’t stick around too long; I kept getting snapped at by both vendors and attendees for “cutting in line” for the end-of-conference giveaways when I was just walking down an aisle or perusing a booth.  Now that I know that the final afternoon is really only for people wanting the free stuff and not for people who might actually want to spend school budget money for the upcoming school year, I’ll be sure to avoid the exhibits on the last day.  Sheesh.

Back to the hotel, and then back to the convention center once more for the Printz awards.  I was there early to help set up so I was able to score 2nd row seats – right behind the photographer and videographer.  (Local Arrangements Committee again – score!)  The speeches were amazing and very emotional.  So emotional that we noticed that a certain male superstar YA author was crying during Libba Bray’s speech.  You can watch them all at the YALSA blog.  (And get an idea of how fantastic our seats were since we were right behind this camera!)

Adam Rapp, author of Punkzilla:

Afterwards, I hung out with Tiffany and Kelly:

Chatted with authors Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Diana Peterfreund:

(Jen is not only an author, she is also pursuing her PhD at Yale!)

As we were getting ready to leave, I finally got up the guts to ask John Green for a picture.  He not only agreed, he even took it for me!  He has great aim with self portraits!

It is a little blurry, but I love it just the same.

After the Printz, I headed back to my hotel and hung out with Susan for a little while (she was one of my roommates) before crashing.  The next day, I packed up my stuff and headed home on the Metro.

It was a packed, fantastic conference!  It was the first time I attended a library conference where I actually knew several people and didn’t feel alone.  My Local Arrangements Committee kicked *ss in getting YALSA locally arranged and I am very proud of the work we did.  If you ever have the opportunity to serve on that committee, take it!  I feel like I got a lot of the whole conference in various ways: building my own skills as a member of an organization, building my skills as a librarian, and getting better at socializing outside of my comfort zone.

I’m really excited about my YALSA involvement in the coming year: member of the Org and Bylaws committee, member of the YA Galley committee, and chair of the WrestleMania Reading Challenge Jury.  I know I will have a full plate, but I believe strongly in YALSA (and ALA) and am excited to help the organization accomplish things in the months ahead.  I am already excited for Midwinter in San Diego and Annual in New Orleans!


1 Comment

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One response to “ALA Annual Washington D.C. 2010 Recap

  1. Holy smokes superwoman! You did a lot during the conference. I’m supremely jealous.

    I was so glad to have finally met you in person. Hopefully we’ll be able to take the time to get together again soon. 🙂

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