I had the pleasure of attending the annual ALA (American Library Association) conference and this year it was in Las Vegas! ALA is 5 days of meetings, educational sessions, award ceremonies, a HUGE exhibit hall, author signings, ARC giveaways, after-hours meet ups, and networking. Over 17,000 librarians and library support staff took over the city that was 112 degrees everyday.
What I Learned
1. Don’t Cluster the Computers at your Library. Spread them out so that patrons have to walk through the entire library to get them.
2. Not all School Visits have to be Book Talks. Regular visits to the lunchroom gets you a larger reach. In addition to bringing books, promote your library with quick crafts and games.
3. A Good Teen Volunteer Program is a lot of Work. Monthly orientations/trainings, manuals, and discouraging helicopter parents are only three things that make a successful teen volunteer program. You have to be strict with your volunteers and require attendance to one orientation meeting. Teens have to be responsible and come to volunteer every day and on time. If they cannot make it, the teen and not the parent, must contact their supervisor. Teens must also notify their supervisor when their time at the library is complete or they won’t receive credit.
4. Foster Connected Learning. When teens join online fan groups such as deviant art or watt pad, that’s considered connected learning. Provide a space in your library for teens with similar interest such as Yu-Gi-Oh, cosplay, or creative writing.
5. Just Because Your Program Failed, it Doesn’t make you a Failure. (I presented this topic with a panel). Failure is going to happen. Learn from those mistakes and turn that program into a success. To do that, involve other staff in the planning process. If your makerspace if failing, have a variety of options and include a specific class. Your specific class can be coding, sewing, or 3D printing. If you are doing a reoccurring program such as a book discussion or a craft club, change your PR, your time of day, book/craft, etc until you come up with a formula that gets butts in the seats.
AUTHORS, AUTHORS, AUTHORS
I met many authors during ALA. Some of them I met with a table of other library professionals in a speed dating format, others I met during an in-booth signing.
I met more authors but I didn’t get their pictures.
What I Learned From Judy Blume
So, I was VERY excited to meet Mrs. Blume because I grew up reading all of her books. I stood in line for 1.5 hours for my 10 seconds of Blumeness and it was well worth it. I learned 6 things from reading her books.
1. Getting your period is exciting, NOT! Margaret, in Are you There God, it’s me Margaret was excited about getting her period and was upset when all her friends started and she hadn’t yet. I was about 10 when I first read this book and I wanted to get my period too. That was until I actually started. Margaret lied to me!
2. All girls want a big bust. I think all us girls recited that famous quote from Margaret-“I must, I must, I must increase my bust.”
3. Boys and their dreams. I had no idea that stuff happened to boys and at 11, I don’t think I was ready to know.
4. You are supposed to name your boyfriend’s penis. So I read Forever when I was about 11 and I probably shouldn’t have. I honestly don’t remember anything about that book except that she named her boyfriend’s penis and I think she named it Frank.
5. It’s not nice to make fun of others. Blubber
6. You should be proud of your freckles. I had a red-headed best friend and we actually tried that recipe from Freckle Juice to get rid of her freckles. It didn’t work.
Ann M. Martin
I was also was a big fan of The Baby Sitters Club Series and I had the pleasure of meeting Ann M. Martin
I came home with about 120 books! I will post a group picture when they are all arrive.
Overall, I had a great time and met some wonderful people all over America and other countries. If you’ve never experienced a library conference, even if it’s just the exhibit hall, I highly recommend it.