For the last several years, I have attended ALA Annual Conference. A few reasons why it’s worth the time and expense:
- Hearing about new books
The whole conference is abuzz about upcoming releases! From the exhibit floor, booths, and Book Buzz Stage to the publisher previews and special events, it’s all about new books. Hearing about the upcoming titles allows you to start building your book order lists and to start imagining which readers will love each new book. You may also be lucky enough to leave with a few ARCs and F&Gs to get a head start on your reading!
- Celebrating literature
Annual Conference is where the authors and illustrators who won the year’s literary awards are honored. These gatherings are such uplifting celebrations of books, creators, and the impact literature makes on lives. For several years, I have had the honor of attending the Newbery Caldecott Wilder Banquet, and it is always an absolute joy. Everyone is dressed up, the speeches are heartfelt and emotional, and each evening is unique. It’s librarian prom! This year was no different. I particularly enjoyed Javaka Steptoe’s speech, his reference to Langston Hughes’s poem Genius Child, and his message about sharing the truth from children.
For the first time this year, I attended the Coretta Scott King Awards Breakfast. It was absolutely unforgettable. It started with a phenomenal prayer and singing, and then preceded with stirring speeches from today’s literary greats. Luckily my friend April, a seasoned pro, came prepared with tissue! I left with no make-up, but completely energized, invigorated, and so thankful to be somehow involved in the world of literature. If only every day could start like that!
The first time I attended the annual conference I only knew a handful of Texas librarians who were also in attendance. At several of the events I didn’t know a soul; but, I introduced myself, had some great conversations with new people, and joined committees. Now, I am fortunate to know librarians and people in the book business from all over the continent. Each summer I look forward to the conference as a time to reconnect and catch up. And each year, I meet more lovely people and continue expanding my circle!