Friday, January 14, 2011

ALA Recap: BFYA, YMA, and Morris - Oh My!

In between Emerging Leaders duties and hearing about all the great books coming out this spring, I did manage to attend a few "session-y" events and these may actually have been my favorite parts of the conference.

Teens coming in
On Sunday, I attended a Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Input Session.  The BFYA (formerly Best Books for Young Adults or BBYA) Committee pared down the titles published this year to a list of 191 nominated titles.  One nice thing about BFYA is that they solicit teen input and consider the teens' comments when creating their list and top ten.  And let me tell you, hearing those teens' comments was one of the highlights of my conference.

The teens came from local libraries and schools and in order to participate, each teen had to read at least 5 books off the list and agree to stand up and talk about at least 2 of them.  Their comments, for the most part, were really smart and insightful.  And I also love that the teens did NOT hold back about books they didn't like. I live-Tweeted the session, so check out the Twitter hashtag #bfya to see what the teens were saying (scroll down for my live-tweets).

This session epitomized why I do what I do and why I love working with kids and teens.  Some of them are so passionate about books and the rest of them have the potential to be passionate about books if they're matched with the right ones.  Teens have something to say and they want someone to listen to them!

On Monday, bright and early, I got up with some of my librarian besties and we headed to the Youth Media Awards (YMAs).  We got there around 7 to ensure our pick of seats and we ended up sitting towards the front on the left side of the room.  Although I'd watched the YMAs on the live webcast before, it was a totally different experience actually being there when they were announced.  Librarians cheered when their favorites won awards (especially unexpected awards) and everyone got quiet when the clear Newbery favorite (One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia) was awarded an honor.  (I tried my darndest to purchase the Newbery winner before it was announced, but I FAILED.  I will rectify that ASAP!)

Besides the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz, there are a lot of awards that people tend to forget about.  I was giddy with glee when Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John and After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick were honored with Schneider Family Awards.  And I was giddy again when Love Drugged by James Klise earned a Stonewall Honor (I'm so glad they're presenting the Stonewalls with the YMAs now!).

And Monday evening, I was back at the convention center for the presentation of the Morris Award and the Excellence in Nonfiction Award.  All the honorees and winners who were able to be there gave acceptance speeches and they were marvelous.  And although it was nice to be part of a fairly intimate crowd listening to the speeches, those speeches were so moving and heartfelt that it is really a shame that they're done at Midwinter (and on Monday night, to boot!) instead of having a reception at ALA Annual like other awards.  They deserve a larger audience and I hope that someday that will happen!!

Emerging Leaders, sessions, and more books than you can shake a stick at... the ALA Midwinter meeting, my first ALA Conference, was simply an amazing experience.  And a big part of that was the wonderful people I met and hung out with at the conference.  When I was thinking back over my conference experience, I tweeted this:

Best thing about #alamw11? Just moved a bunch of blogs in my reader from the "librarian" folder to the "friends" folder. Awwwww. :)
And it is totally true.  Practically everywhere I turned at the conference, there were people who are just as passionate about books and kids and libraries as I am.  I spent a lot of time last weekend with some really excellent teen librarians and they've got me fired up about teen programs and services.  It's really a punch in the arm that I needed, since my department is in the process of taking over teen programming at our library.   These same awesome librarians got me thinking about reading YA more deeply and critically.  I look up to each and every one of them and they challenge me to be a better librarian in the best ways possible.  (Thank you, ILOAs!)

And that wraps up my ALA Midwinter recaps.  I have to tell you that being at the conference was like a breath of fresh air.  I was surrounded by MY PEOPLE and I came home exhausted, but exhilarated and raring to go.  THIS is why we attend conference.  THIS is why we volunteer for committees.  THIS is why our organization is worth the $200+ membership fees.

And that's all I have to say about that.
(Oh, it's not *quite* all!  Tune in on Sunday for a very special "In My Mailbox" to see my favorite favorite books I scored at the conference!)