This past weekend, if you were not aware of it, the ALA (American Library Association) mid-winter conference was held in Seattle which happens to be not very far from where I live in British Columbia, Canada. Since my program is located with the School of Library, Information and Archival Science (SLAIS for short) and since we are Children’s Literature specialists, we decided that we needed to go to this conference. For networking purposes, to meet authors and get a taste of the publishing industry especially with regards to current trends and expectations where writing and editing are concerned.
This was the first time I had attended such a conference. Usually they are way too far away from me to even consider going as I am perpetually poor. This time however, my school did give me a $100 grant toward the conference which helped rather nicely with my traveling. I took the Amtrack train from Vancouver to Seattle and goodness me, I never want to wake up at 3 in the morning in winter again. It hurt! The weather in Seattle is very similar to that in Vancouver except that it may be slightly warmer. Even though I live so near to the place, I have never actually visited Seattle so this was going to be my first time in the city. Plus, there were five girls, two hotel rooms and what felt like a three night sleepover.
Ah, yes, we stayed at the Travelodge by the Space Needle which was nicely far from everywhere and since, you know, we were operating on a budget and kind of crazier than the usual Canadian students (though to be utterly truthful, there was an American and a Brazilian among us) we decided to walk everywhere. Whether lugging bags of backbreaking books or purses, we persevered. It was crazy, we ached like crazy but we did it. Anyway, the conference. As I said, it was my very first time attending a conference centered around books, authors and librarians so there was an element of wide-eyed wonder at the people rushing around. We got there early enough, Aline and I, while the other three members of group were MIA, and we rather bemusedly got into line in front of the exhibit hall.
There were plenty of people to talk to, some librarians, some bloggers, some just part of the publishing industry who has come over to check things out. There was this one librarian behind me who talked. A lot. Her poor companion had this long suffering look on her face as the lady went on and one and on, sometimes without even pausing to breathe. How do I know she was a librarian and not someone else? Our name tags generally identify us.
The exhibit hall was kind of insane. I was overwhelmed and even though various people told me that this was a very small sample of what the annual conference is like, I still felt it was big enough. Hey, I’m from a small island country, okay? Most of the publishers/editors/people manning the booths were nice but I will be honest, I did feel some of them were rather dismissive. They seemed disinclined to engage in conversation with us once they found out we were students and did not in fact have the funds necessary to you know, buy stuff. On the whole though, I did not have any unpleasant experiences. There were books and people were giving them away and yes, I selected the ones that appealed to me most because I did have to carry them home somehow.
The lady who gave us those badges for our nametag was pretty darned awesome. In fact, I think we fielded the most questions about where we had gotten those badges though there was one person who rather snarkily remarked that the badges were meant for people with “seniority” but we are Canadian so we smiled, nodded and moved on. I think all of us were swept away by the posters. Forget books, the posters were what it was all about. Anyone who is attending the annual meeting will have to grab me a couple *cheese*.
It was wonderful meeting people who loved books as much as I did. I did got to the Blogger meetup on Friday but unfortunately, I was so tired and hungry that I had to slip out halfway to get some food and then when we came back, we just met the wonderful Kristen Kittscher (whose debut novel, The Wig in the Window, is being released on the 13th of June, 2013). Ah, but I did meet Julia Quinn, one of the most talented romance writers. I read all her books when I was into historical romances and she’s very down to earth and friendly in person. I also met Susin Nielson who is Canadian (awesome) and whose book, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larson, won the Governor General’s Award this year. She is very fun in person and I look forward to reading the book. I also met Kirsten Hubbard of Wanderlove fame at the Blogger meetup and I think I gushed about her book for several awkward moments. It was fun.
Seattle is a gorgeous city and unfortunately I couldn’t see much of it. However, my appetite has been whet so since I am so close to it, I will definitely plan a longer vacation. Pike Place Market is exactly the kind of place I could spend the entire day at. And I didn’t even get to go to the library. The buildings are beautiful and the people very friendly. I recommend visiting the city for the food and the architecture.
I am going to share a couple of pictures of the books I got, not all of them, but just the ones I thought were rather interesting. I understand that there is the whole resentment thing going on with teens and other bloggers getting books that are ostensibly meant for “librarians” but I don’t understand why no one has mentioned that everyone pays the same entry fee (perhaps ALA members pay less, I’m not sure) to get into the exhibit hall and the publishers are welcome to decline handing their books out to various people after they have been identified as industry people or not. I think considering that teens are the target audience, publishers and publicists would rather target them, no? Anyway, quibbling aside, here are the pictures: