ALA Annual Conference 2011 Day One

Friday, June 24, 2011, was the first day of this year’s ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. I had a 6:00 AM flight, and ended up getting up at 2:30 in order to catch it in plenty of time. This was probably my worst bit of planning for the whole weekend, since I was tired the entire weekend, and never did make that up.

Still, I woke up super excited, so it was actually easy to get out of bed. Unfortunately, in order to get to New Orleans, I had to go to Boston first. The Dulles to Boston flight wasn’t bad at all, only an hour, and then I had a 3-hour wait in the Boston airport, and then a longer flight. Unfortunately, somewhere, either on the plane or in the airport, I left behind the book I was reading on that first flight, Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier, which was proving to be very captivating even though I hadn’t gotten very far. Fortunately, it was an inexpensive paperback, so I’ve already ordered a replacement copy.

In the Boston airport, I saw lots of librarians, including Martha Parravano from The Horn Book Magazine. I also saw author Nancy Werlin, whom I’d met at the Printz Awards Reception last year, and her husband. Book people tend to be very nice people!

The next flight was much longer, and by then I was exhausted and tried to sleep, which just gave me a crick in the neck. When I landed, around 3:00, I was starving. I passed several restaurants on the way to the baggage claim, but once you got your baggage, there were no restaurants at all. So when the shuttle got me to the Holiday Inn French Quarter, I tried to nap and utterly failed, and went to get food instead at the Checkered Parrot next door — before I fell over.

After being revived by eating, I went with my roommates to the Convention Center and got ready for the opening of the exhibits, aka “The Running of the Librarians.”

Now, since I didn’t drive to the Conference this year, I was telling myself that I would show restraint. HA! Once I got into the exhibits and the scent of books was in the air, I couldn’t help myself!

I picked up some Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) I’m tremendously excited about:

Bigger Than a Bread Box, by Laurel Snyder
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, (based on The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg)
Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
Under Dogs, by Markus Zusak
Seriously, Norman! by Chris Raschka
True Blue, by Jane Smiley
An Elephant in the Garden, by Michael Morpurgo
as well as lots of other books that look interesting.

And I purchased a copy of Divergent and got it signed by the author, Veronica Roth.

In the exhibits, I ran into Laini Taylor, her husband Jim DiBartolo, and her editor Alvina Ling. I was thrilled to meet her and got my picture with her. Today I got an additional thrill when my roommate tweeted that Laini Taylor posted a picture with me on her blog! (In fact, that picture’s better.) I was looking like someone who only got a few hours sleep and then spent all day on airplanes, but I was having a great time.

Laini Taylor and me

Also in the exhibits, I took pictures of my friend Kristin Wolden Nitz’s books displayed in the Peachtree booth. I liked it that they are getting publicity even though they are no longer brand new.

Here’s Suspect:

And here’s the middle grade gem, Saving the Griffin:

When my loot bags got so heavy I was close to falling over, I decided I’d better leave the scene of temptation. The Post Office in the exhibits was not open, but the UPS store in the Convention Center was, so I shipped a box of 23 books (which arrived today!).

Here are the books I shipped that first day.

After getting back to the hotel, I headed to the ALSC Happy Hour, which was taking place at the restaurant next door. I couldn’t beat the convenience, and knew I wouldn’t be able to stay awake very long. Right away, I saw Tony Carman, a youth services librarian from neighboring Loudoun County who is also in the DC KidLit Book Club, and who was starting his service on the Caldecott Committee with this conference.

I’m wanting to get more involved in ALA and the divisions I’m part of — ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children), YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), and PLA (Public Library Association). This was a good way to meet more people involved in ALSC, and was a great way to start off the conference before I turned into a pumpkin and went to bed.

So the first night was just a warm-up. Grabbing books. Meeting authors and librarians. Getting ready for great stuff happening all weekend.

Preparing for ALA Annual Conference 2011

I’m so excited! My flight leaves for ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans at 6:00 am on Friday morning! (I so hope I will wake up! But I think I will be too excited to sleep well.)

The first thing to do when preparing for ALA Annual Conference is figure out what programs and events you’re going to attend. This time I signed up for several things that cost extra, before I’d even seen the schedule, hoping that would make it easier to choose. It didn’t.

Imagine it this way: There are a series of programs about libraries and authors and serving various customer groups and so many other things. There are at least five or so very interesting choices at each time slot. Then there’s the whole author signing schedule, which doesn’t correspond to the program schedule in any way. Then add into that Publisher Previews where editors talk about the books coming out in the Fall that they’re most excited about. It’s really hard to pick what you want to go see. I did learn from previous conferences when I wedged into a room without enough space for everyone that you definitely need to have an alternate plan. (That’s not hard to do. The hard part is realizing that you really won’t get to very many of your alternates.)

I also needed to make my schedule before I figured out what to pack. It will be HOT in New Orleans, and I definitely want to dress up for the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet and the Printz Award Reception, so I’ll have to build in enough time to go back to my hotel. Maybe maybe rest while I’m at it? And should I bring my laptop? I won’t have much time at all to use it, but right now I’m leaning toward bringing it, if only for the time sitting in airports.

I looked at the signing schedule and tried to figure out which ones I could go to while still hitting as many programs as possible. I got it “down” to 20 authors whose signings I will try to attend! Yikes! (I will try to figure out how to mail the books home. I believe they usually have a place you can do that.) But I really hope to see Marilyn Johnson, signing the book I gave to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Laini Taylor signing her new book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone (want! want! want!), Alex Flinn signing Cloaked (I have it but want to meet her because she’s so brilliant), Franny Billingsley signing her incredible new book Chime, Catherine Gilbert Murdock signing her new book Wisdom’s Kiss (want! want! want!), Brian Selznick signing her new book Wonderstruck (want! want! want!), and Maureen Johnson, the very funniest person on Twitter, signing her new book Name of the Star (want! want! want!).

Of course, if any of these have long lines, which they well may, I may not get to the others. Though that might be a good thing, as it looks like I am going to be weighed down…

For programs, the ones I splurged for a ticket are:

The Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet. Attending this was a highlight of my year last year. I wouldn’t miss it.

The Printz Award Reception. Where ALL the brilliant authors honored give speeches.

The YA Author Coffee Klatch. Where you get to meet lots more authors, all award winners.

The Margaret Edwards Luncheon. Alas! Terry Pratchett isn’t healthy enough to come in person, but he’s going to send a video acceptance speech. And that’s one day when I’ll take the time to eat a good lunch.

This year I also decided to buy a ticket to the Gala Author Tea, honoring some writers for adults (to broaden my horizons), and a Walking Tour of the French Quarter, since I know nothing about New Orleans and it seems a shame to be there but only stay in the hotel and the convention center.

This doesn’t leave a lot of time for other conference programs! But some I’m hoping to attend are:

A panel with Nancy Pearl talking about Reader’s Advisory Research and Trends. (What? That doesn’t sound super exciting to you?)

The movie “Library of the Early Mind,” a documentary film exploring children’s literature. (Again, I’m really looking forward to this!) Here’s the trailer:

I’m thankful for the tip from Travis Jonker at 100scopenotes to attend the Notable Books Committee meeting, where they talk about the best books of the year.

And to Abby the Librarian for the tip to attend the Best Fiction for Young Adults meeting where they have actual teens (gasp!) come in and give feedback on the books.

I’m not sure whose blog tipped me off to go to the Odyssey Awards, but when I saw that slot was free and read the outstanding audiobooks that are being honored, I got excited about that event.

Because the SCBWI KidLit Drink Night last year got me off to a fantastic start at meeting people, I’m planning to attend the ALSC Happy Hour Friday night, and hope it will be as good. Oh, another reason I have to attend is that Google Maps reports that the walking distance from it to my hotel is 22 seconds! Not one minute, not half a minute, but 22 seconds! How can I resist going and timing myself? Besides, it will be easy to get to my room if I conk out early.

And, definitely, attending ALA is about making connections. I really love meeting authors and telling them how much I love their books. (And I hope to be one of them some day — I’m still seeking an agent for my middle grade fantasy novel.) I also love meeting other librarians who are excited about librarianship, and especially touching kids’ lives with books. I recently volunteered to be on an ALSC Committee and was appointed to the Children and Technology Committee. My term doesn’t start until after ALA Annual, but I hope to meet other committee members. And I was delighted when I learned that bloggers extraordinaire Travis Jonker of 100scopenotes and John Schumacher of MrSchuReads are on the very same panel! This will be my first committee experience, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m a relatively new librarian, and I don’t want to lose my enthusiasm, which gets endangered when I stay local and think about things like RIFs and budget cuts.

So, I can’t think of a better way to build my enthusiasm for being a Librarian! On to New Orleans!

(And now I’d better go pack!)