Monday, January 30, 2012

ALA Midwinter Recap

Dallas at night!
The day I got home from ALA Midwinter 2012, I slept for 15 hours.

Maybe some people make sure they get decent amounts of sleep during Conference, but I (apparently) am not one of them. And that kinda shows you what kind of a magical land the ALA Conference is: a place where networking, discovering new books, comparing library programs, meeting authors, finding solutions to your library problems... all of those are more important than sleep.

I know joining ALA is expensive and attending conference is expensive and not everyone can afford it on our librarian salaries and not everyone's library can or will pay for them. My dues are coming up at the end of January and I've been putting it off. But after that fabulous conference, I suddenly find that I don't mind writing that check. What I'm saying is that it is so worth it.

If you're not going to get involved, if you're not going to take advantage of the opportunities that ALA can offer (networking, committee work, conferences, etc.), then you're right - ALA membership might not be worth the dues you're paying. But a lot of the youth librarians I know are the only librarians in their department. Joining and being active in a professional organization offers you the opportunity to find people to share ideas, ask for solutions to problems, and possibly become lifelong friends. Of course you can do those things online, but there's something about meeting face to face, about talking books over a couple of margaritas (or Diet Cokes)...

We saw the van! 
Even though conference totally exhausted me, it also completely refreshed me. I returned, ready to dive back in to my work.

In other news, there's been a bunch of blogger drama surrounding this conference and I don't really want to get into all of it, except to say that I second what Kelly said and what Jennie said and I'm so heartened to hear a friendly publisher rep weighing in and saying just what I'd like to say, but in a much kinder way.

Instead, I'd like to tell you how fabulous it was to sit in a ballroom and hear many, many teens repeatedly coming up to the mic to talk about their favorite (and least favorite) books on the Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees. Check out the #BFYA Twitter stream for more details about what teens said.

Theater for the YMA announcements
It was amazing it was to sit in a theater with hundreds of librarians, holding our breath as the Youth Media Awards were announced. The screams of joy and occasional hushed silences as favorite books were recognized or other favorite books were seemingly overlooked. (The selection committees put their heart and soul into their choices, so even if some of my favorites didn't get stickers, I appreciate the difficult decisions the committees had to make!)

It was wonderful to connect with publishers on the exhibit floor and find out what books they're excited about. They were just as interested to hear what the kids at my library are excited about. I attended several of the publishers' preview events and it's always nice to hear pub reps talk about the books they've got coming up. I can read a jacket flap, but hearing someone close to the book talking about it is a completely different experience.

It was four days of talking books with awesome people nonstop. It was four days of meeting new friends, putting faces to names I'd only seen online. It was four days with My People. And I'm already looking forward to the time that I might get to be back with My People again.

Thanks, ALA, for a great conference!