Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Destination: ALA Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois

(This is a modified version of the notes I am passing along to the library administrators and the board)


During the wee hours of the morning on July 10, I boarded a train bound to Chicago. Upon arriving to my destination later that day, I spent the afternoon getting settled in my hotel and figuring out where I needed to be and when.

From 5-7 that evening, I attended a lovely reception hosted by Holiday House, where I was able to view several of their newest publications and to network with others in the library field.


Saturday brought the real beginning of the busy weekend. Bright and early I, along with L, caught the shuttle bus to the McCormick Place. Over the weekend I spent many hours shuttling from one place to the next. Once we arrived at the McCormick place, we both went to registration to receive our badge holders and conference materials. After a quick stop at the Internet Café to check my email, I then visited “The Stacks” (as the vendor area is called) for a quick perusal of the goodies offered, before returning to my room to finish viewing DVDs before my meeting.

I had a meeting at another hotel at 1:30. As became a theme of sorts over the weekend, the shuttles were running long and behind. Since I had to go from my hotel to the McCormick Place to catch the shuttle bus to the meeting hotel, I left early. It took nearly two hours before I arrived at the Palmer House! Once there, I attended the meeting for the 2010 Carnegie Medal committee, where we learned more about our committee work, viewed several past winners and discussed the videos. From what we’ve been told, there will be a lot of DVD viewing going on later this year, as items finally arrive for our consideration.

After another shuttle bus experience, I arrived back at the hotel in time to get ready and taxi, along with L, to a dinner at the Navy Pier hosted by BWI. This was an excellent opportunity to talk with various BWI employees – and other librarians – about the services we utilize. The view from the restaurant was lovely as well!


Sunday brought another day of non-stop running around. I left my room early in order to attend the Young Adult Coffee Klatch. This event allows librarians to meet and speak with several YA authors in a short period of time. Additionally, during the event is the presentation of the William C. Morris Award, given to a debut YA author. The author, Elizabeth C. Bunce, gave a delightful speech eliciting much laughter and applause from the audience. There were nearly 40 YA authors in attendance at this event, and we had about four minutes with each one. The ones I was able to meet include: Elizabeth C. Bunce (sweet – only had about 2 minutes to talk), Patricia Wrede (interesting. The first author to sit at our table), Jacqueline Woodson (very cool. Talked a bit about music, which makes since since that is central to her Newbery Honor book), Silas House (seemed nice. I need to look for his book. Has a great Appalachian accent), Simone Elkeles (seemed edgy and cool), Janet Lee Carey (weird is the best way to describe her), Lisa Greenwald (seemed nice. Not sure that her book is my type), Stephen Bloom (didn’t seem to fit with the other authors - but I do want to read his book) and Kristina Springer (seems fun, as does her book).

After this event, I raced to the session on evaluating audiobooks for children and teens. This topic was presented by the first Odyssey Committee. I enjoyed hearing about their learning experiences while on the committee…and delighted to find out that notes, the PowerPoint and even an audio recording of the session would be available online, especially as I had to leave this session early in order to make it to the PR Swap and Shop before heading to the (free) EBSCO luncheon.

The PR Swap and Shop is an excellent service, allowing for libraries throughout the country to showcase their wonderful PR ideas and for librarians to pick up some great new ideas for programming and promoting the library. I picked up several items to share with others in our library…and even let someone record me saying a few words about the Swap and Shop.

The EBSCO luncheon was an opportunity to learn what is new with the database company. They began with information on how the recession that is unfortunately affecting public libraries ability to afford many of the database products they once purchased is also affecting the companies that provide those services. Due to this, they have repackaged and rearranged several of their products in order to make more affordable databases available to those who need them. After this introduction, they began showcasing their new databases and the changes that have been made.

Again, I had to leave this event early in order to make it to another event. And, yet again, I had to shuttle from one location to another.

The afternoon was spent at the Pura Belpré Celebracíon, which is a delightful event that highlights the importance of Hispanic children’s literature. The winners and honors of the Pura Belpré award are presented their medals and give speeches. The event concluded with entertainment provided by a local troop of Mexican dancing youth and with the whole crowd holding hands and singing De Colores. This was one of my favorite programs last year, and I was ecstatic to attend yet again.

My evening was the highlight of the whole trip. L and I attended the Newbery/Caldecott awards banquet. All of the award winners who spoke that evening were superb. Caldecott winner Beth Krommes was heartwarming as she described her reaction to the news of her win, including jumping and dancing around the house with her young daughters. Newbery winner Neil Gaiman’s speech was mostly hilarious – namely his reaction to hearing the good news, with a touch of sorrow when mentioning his father’s recent passing. And, as I later heard, he was posting on Twitter (photos even!) during the event! Ashley Bryan, the winner of the Laura Ingles Wilder award gave an energetic and dynamic speech, all the more impressive when learning he was just hours from his 86th birthday. What a wonderful way to end a day!


Monday was a tiring day.

L and I both woke early and headed to the McCormick Place. After waiting in line for The Stacks to open (and being amazed at the long line of people waiting in line to meet and get an autograph from Neil Gaiman), we hit up several of the vendors for information…and a few goodies. We then attended the ALSC awards and member meeting. At this program several awards and grants are given and acknowledged, including the Carnegie, Geisel and Siebert awards and scholarship and programming grants. The ALSC President then gives a “year in review” type of talk before opening the floor to the members. The meeting ended with a memorial for Kathy Krasniewicz and Kate McClelland, two ALSC members who died in a tragic traffic accident on their way to the Denver airport after the ALA Midwinter Meeting this past January.

After the ALSC meeting, I briefly attended the session And the good news is…. This session was about the impact of Summer Reading Programs on the reading abilities of children (i.e. Do children who participate in SRPs maintain reading abilities over the summer?). I left this session early in order to find lunch before rushing to my planned afternoon activities. Well, and I was starting to fall asleep. I am not a fan of overly academic type sessions. Just give me a handout of the research perimeters and tell me about the results.

Unfortunately, fates had different plans, as the food court in the McCormick Place had pretty much ran out of food. This required attempting to find a restaurant near on of the hotels…which meant taking a shuttle bus yet again. I left the McCormick place around 2:30. Due to the lovely long waits for the buses, I was not able to return until after 5…and even missed the tail end of the session I had wanted to attend.

An hour later, I returned to my hotel room and packed my backs, preparing for my early morning departure to the train station and the return home.


Now, here I am sitting on an east bound train, heading for Detroit. The weekend was a whirlwind of activities and learning experiences. I look forward to sharing the ideas I’ve gathered with my fellow staff members, and thank the library for the opportunity to and support in attending the ALA Annual Conference.


Anonymous said...

Wasn't Bryan's speech incredible? I thought it was the highlight of the weekend, and that's saying something!

Ama said...

That really is! You also gave a wonderful speech. I've told anyone who will listen about it...especially the part about having an award made just for you. lol

It was great meeting you at the Coffee Klatch! I look forward to reading more of your work. :)