Monday, January 10, 2011

Quick Trip to the ALA

by Sophie

ALA Winter Meeting - I Was There! (With Martha!)

The topic this week is family, and I do have one, and I love them deeply, but I'm just back from the American Library Association meeting and I'm bubbling over with enthusiasm for everything I saw and read and experienced in the last two days and I want to share - okay with you?

First wonderful thing about the weekend is that I got to room with Martha. Of all the Pens, she and I probably live the furthest apart, and we don't get to see each other as often as I would like. Yeah yeah yeah, she knows all kinds of fascinating people and is scary-smart and all, but mostly I just enjoy her company, even/especially when she's not feeling great so we just watch hotel TV. (I had never in my life watched The Bachelor and last night we watched a rerun with Martha's running commentary and I nearly fell out of the bed laughing, despite the fact that I have never seen a more insipid gathering of doltish people anywhere.)

the view from our hotel room - amazing!

But to stay on-topic - on the topic which isn't on-topic - let's talk about librarians: they LOVE books. They talk about books with reverence. They handle them with great care. They light up when they meet new authors, they roam the show floor tirelessly looking for new things to read, they talk about their collections with obvious pride. I ADORE THEM. Everywhere I went - whether to get a soda from the hotel shop, or lunch, or strolling along the marina, there were clusters of librarians talking about books, carrying books in their bags, buying books, sharing books.

It's not like I never met a librarian before. I've written before about how much I adored my college library (fun fact - Lisa and I went to the same university at the same time and never knew each other!) and someday I will share what my hometime library meant to me, though that will take many many words....but I have never seen so many in one place before.

I was at the convention to sign ARCS of my spring release, A BAD DAY FOR SCANDAL (ThomasDunne/St. Martin's/Minotaur, June), and my friends Hank and Rosemary invited me to participate in a series of mystery panels. Now I've done panels where three people showed up, all of them my friends, their sole purpose to hurry me along so we could go to the bar, and I've learned to keep my expectations...moderate, shall we say. But at our early morning panel yesterday, hordes (okay, maybe exaggerating a TINY bit) of eager librarians showed up to listen and discuss mystery novels. It was a delightful experience.

One other thing I'd like to tell you about before I stagger off to bed (it's well after midnight, and I only got home from the airport an hour ago) - I attended some panels of high school librarians who were in the process of creating a list of recommended novels for their kids. I was blown away by the enthusiasm, professionalism, conviviality, and focus of this group. Simply put, they care very deeply about bringing the best books to their readers. At one point they invited a panel of teen readers to address them, and it was the best-attended session I saw. Every librarian and audience member listened with great care to the teens who shared their reviews of '10 reads. It was truly awe-inspiring.


Rachael Herron said...

Ooooh. I want to go next year. It sounds AWESOME. Also, someone sent me a twitpic of my ARCs there! And one librarian tweeted me to say she was going to read it on the way home!

Martha Flynn said...

My recommendation before attending the next ALA is to get in a lot of pushups because your arms will nearly fall off from carrying around all the pretty ARCs!

(And omg, many thanks to Sophie who got me ushered to the hotel room with a bottle of water and a ginger aleish drink when things were not going so well - speaking of family, being mothered like that is SO WEIRD)

Gigi Pandian said...

I LOVE librarians. How does one get to attend ALA?

Mysti Berry said...

Contact high from book love!!!!

Unknown said...

This sounds like a fabulous time. It's easy to forget that lots of people LOVE books (most especially librarians) when we're sequestered away in our writer cocoon trying to work out the plot :) thanks for sharing the pics and the enthusiasm :) :)

Adrienne Bell said...

I'm so glad you both had a great time. I know I'm jealous that you got to spend the weekend with Martha.

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