Tuesday, September 18, 2012

ALA Annual 2012 Recap

As many of you know, I had the chance to attend one of the greatest library and bookish events of the year: the ALA Annual Conference, which took place in Anaheim, California.  While I encountered some people who know me from blogging and Twitter, I was also there as an MLIS candidate (which I have now earned, even though my degree has not yet arrived).  Not only did I snag some great ARCs and swag, I had the opportunity to attend awesome sessions, network, and meet lots of bloggers in person!

The conference began Friday, but because I couldn’t get away from work and school any earlier, I was unable to arrive in Anaheim until late Friday night.  I won’t bore you with the details of my travels, because I’m sure you can guess how they went: Liz drags herself and a suitcase to the airport, Liz embarks on two flights that are three hours apiece, Liz arrives and faceplants on her bed, etc.

I got up early Saturday morning, donned an outfit that included an absurdly pink dress (see photos for proof), and left my hotel around 8 a.m.   My morning included a few brief meetings, including the YALSA membership meeting.  At one point we were all asked to stand according to the duration of our membership, and I was the only individual in the room who had been a YALSA member for less than a year.  Between that and the hot pink dress, I suddenly felt as though I stuck out like a sore thumb.  Thankfully, as soon as the meeting adjourned, several very friendly people came over and gave me a warm welcome, including Alli (who is so sweet in person), and Jack, the YALSA president.

After that I decided it was finally time to check out the exhibit floor because I really wanted to meet Corey Whaley and get a signed paperback of Where Things Come Back.  At one point I stumbled into Kelsey and Farrah (who are lovely in person) and Gretchen McNeil, and it was awesome to see all of them.  When I saw Gretchen McNeil I definitely said, “Oh hey” and then went, “Oh, hey, you’re Gretchen McNeil! We’re Twitter friends!”  While I was wandering, I stumbled upon E.M. Kokie signing ARCs of Personal Effects, and eventually found Jordyn, who I have been Twitter friends with for quite some time.  I had somehow missed the fact that Simon and Schuster was stationed right at the door where you walked in, but Jordyn helped me figure it out, and I got to meet Corey Whaley.  Jordyn stood in line with me, and got to witness my hilariously odd conversation with Corey, which went like this:

Me (digging for bag in camera): I know it’s here somewhere…
Corey (to Jordyn): What is she looking for? Does she have a gun?
Me: No.
(At some point in the conversation, I was holding up my badge, because I was trying to indicate that I recognized Corey from social media.)
Corey: Why are you holding up your badge?  Do you think I’m the police?
Me: No, I commented on your Facebook status when you said you were here! I’m trying to prove that I’m human!
Corey: Oh, cool. I’m writing, “Liz, glad to know you’re human” in your book (that’s actually what he wrote).

So Corey is strange, but nice.  While standing next to Jordyn I asked about the copy of Second Chance Summer she was holding, and she pointed out that Morgan Matson was doing a signing in the booth at the same time.  Since I had heard so many rave reviews of Second Chance Summer and she was right there, I figured I was destined to get a copy of this book, and I am so glad I bought it.  I was craving this title right around the time of my graduation and it was so good that I literally shut myself in the bathroom until 2 a.m. to finish it because various members of my family were sleeping in the other rooms of my apartment.  It’s definitely one of my favorite books of 2012 so far and a title that I highly recommend (in case you couldn't tell from yesterday's review).

After that I grabbed a quick bite to eat and in the afternoon, stopped by a session on implementing Every Child Ready to Read 2 (ECRR2) in public libraries.  I was already quite familiar with ECRR2 thanks to a class, so I decided to head out and spend my afternoon visiting the exhibit floor.  I got to catch Maggie Stiefvater signing ARCs of The Raven Boys, plus she signed my finished copy of The Scorpio Races.  I also picked up  signed copies of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  I have yet to read Beautiful Darkness, but the hardcover of Beautiful Chaos was a mere five dollars and the line was short—I could not pass it up!
I planned to stop by the YALSA Happy Hour that evening, but got a bit turned around, and wound up calling Sarah to see if she wanted to go with me.  By the time we got there, it was so crowded so that it was impossible to move, and we decided to get dinner.  Melanie decided to stop by Anahiem Saturday night to meet people, so Sarah found her while I sat and rested my tired feet.  Serious thanks to both of these ladies for being patient with me while I was disoriented and exhausted.  Once Melanie joined us, we decided to get dinner at a hotel restaurant where we knew there would be a blogger meet-up later in the evening.  It was fantastic to sit and chat books, careers, and life with these ladies while enjoy a good meal.

Eventually, people started trickling in for the blogger meet-up, which was organized by Kelly, along with the folks over at the YAHighway.  I had the chance to chat with Kelly, plus some bloggers and authors I’d met earlier that day. I also met Lindsi, H.D., and Kim Purcell.  To be honest I left quite early because I didn’t feel like myself, but I had a great time.  When I got back to my hotel I may have fallen asleep with my computer next to me on my bed.

I slept in a little bit later on Sunday, but got to the convention center by nine. I hustled over to the Disney Hyperion booth and was able to grab ARCs of The Archived as well as The Darkest Minds.  After that I went to a session on iPad apps for children’s librarians.  What I loved about this session was that two school librarians spoke and then two public librarians.  I’m not qualified to be a school librarian, but more tips never hurt anyone.  I also just got an iPad a week ago as a graduation gift, so I’m pumped to refer back to my notes and pick out some apps.

After lunch, I stopped by a speed-networking session that was hosted by YALSA’s Gretchen Kolderup, who was super friendly and welcoming.  I had the chance to talk briefly with lots of awesome people, including Drea (although we didn’t realize that we were Twitter friends until later) and Brianna.  Before too long, I headed back to the convention center, where I went to signings for Leigh Bardugo and Gennifer Albin (I have already read Shadow and Bone and hope to review it on the blog soon).  While I was in line to meet Leigh Bardugo, I got to chat with Katie, Bailey, and Jessica, all of whom are really nice in person.  I also stopped by Lindsey Leavitt’s signing of A Farewell toCharms.  I haven’t read Princess for Hire, but Lindsey and I are Twitter friends and the line was short, although I did get the chance to chat with Jennifer, who is very nice.  At some point I also picked up Eve & Adam by K.A. Applegate and Michael Grant.  This might have been right before the networking session, but truth be told I’m not sure anymore.  I finished off my day by attending Kelly and Jackie’s session Passive Program That Is Anything But: Reaching Young Adults Subversively.  The knowledge I gleaned from this session will be great if I ever get to work with young adults.

Sunday evening was mellow for me—I needed some time to do homework, so I ordered room service, watched a tiny bit of t.v., and worked on assignments.

Monday I woke up and headed to part of a session on children and technology.  At some point I wandered back to the exhibit hall.  Even though I already owned a finished copy of Daniel Handler’s Why We Broke Up, I got in line for his signing with Maira Kalman, because I loved A Series ofUnfortunate Events as a child and knew that I needed to have something signed by Handler.  After that I attended a session that was all about implanting Teen Advisory Boards in libraries, and grabbed lunch with a friend from school.

By this point of ALA I was pretty tired.   Monday afternoon all the publishers were packing up their exhibits and getting ready to leave California, so a lot of books that were previously for sale were free. I grabbed With or Without You from Simon and Schuster and Love that Dog by Sharon Creech, but soon left in favor of tea and preliminary packing in my hotel room.

I walked back to the convention center around three-thirty or four with the hope of attending one last session.  The one I was initially interested wasn’t at all what I hoped it would be, so I stopped by a few other sessions before stopping by one about gay literature. I’m not sure exactly what it was called but it was mildly interesting.  I followed that up with a brief dinner with someone I’d met at a networking session.
Eventually, 8:00 rolled around and it was time for the Printz Program and Reception.  I loved hearing everyone speak, and especially liked what Maggie Stiefvater had to say. No one, however, topped Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman.  Daniel played the accordion and the duo sang a song called “Without Libraries We’d Be Dumb.”  It may have been my favorite part of ALA.  After there ceremony, there was a reception.  I finally met Liz, and got to speak briefly with Corey Whaley and Daniel Handler again. This time, I was able to get a picture with Daniel Handler. We were told to look distinguished, so this happened.

I didn’t stay too long because I had to get a shuttle back to my hotel and finish packing.

I headed out fairly early the next morning—I won’t bore you with the details of my travel, except to that between leaving my hotel at 9 a.m. PST and arriving home at 1 a.m. EST, I finished The Scorpio Races and read all of Waiting, in addition to starting Shadow and Bone.  My second flight was on a small plane and it was so loud that I couldn’t sleep.

Overall, ALA was productive, fun, and exhausting for me.  I learned a lot as a professional but also had a great time meeting people and being able to chat with so many awesome, bloggers, and librarians in person.  Hopefully I get to relive the experience one day at a future ALA. In the mean time, check out the video where I tell you all about the books I picked up (as demanded by Misty and Allison). 

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