ALA Chicago

I didn’t get to attend ALA’s Annual Conference in Chicago this year, but I followed along virtually on Twitter (#ala2013) and through others’ blog posts and articles.


On June 27, Maureen Sullivan announced the launch of the “Authors for Library eBooks” initiative. A District Dispatch blog post, “Bestselling authors call for library ebook lending,” quotes Jodi Picoult: “Whether it’s a digital file or a paper copy, I want readers to find my books—and all books—in their libraries!” (As readers of this blog know, not all publishers make all their ebooks available for libraries to purchase.)

My friend Brita, who attended the conference through the Student-to-Staff program (the same way I did in 2011), wrote this great piece on Ann Patchett’s PLA President’s Program: “Ann Patchett, Readers’ Advisor Extraordinaire.” She also created a Bibliocommons list of Patchett’s top ten recommendations.


YA Authors Decode Dystopia“: I would have loved to have been in the audience for this author panel on dystopian fiction, featuring Lois Lowry, Cory Doctorow, Veronica Roth, and Patrick Ness. The authors identified “an important component of dystopian fiction that makes it so appealing: the ability to place oneself intimately in the action. The ‘what if’ factor draws readers into dystopian fiction, making them imagine how they would react if faced with calamity.”

I would have loved to sit in on PLA’s “Long e-Overdue” panel as well, which featured Jamie LaRue of the Douglas Country (CO) Libraries, Mary Minow of Library Law, and Michael Porter of Library Renewal. The idea of “library-managed e-content platforms”  as an alternative to middleman-style vendors such as OverDrive and 3M is a great goal to aim for.

I also followed along with the “New Adult: What Is It & Is It Really Happening?” panel on July 1 via Twitter (#ala13na). The panelists provided a huge list of “new adult” resources, including articles, blog posts, and booklists. Depending on who you listen to, “new adult” is either a “hot new category” in publishing, or a useless and annoying marketing ploy; it’s either fiction that features main characters in the 18-25 (ish) age range, bridging the gap between YA and adult, or it’s typical YA but with sex scenes. It’s definitely an emerging niche, though, and there’s lots to discuss.

Finally, from American Libraries Magazine, there’s a list of “10 Steps to a Better Library Interior.” The first step (“fresh perspective”) even includes one of my favorite cleaning/de-cluttering tips, which is to take everything out, then only put back the things you really want to keep. (Or at least imagine you’re doing so: obviously it’s impractical to move computers, furniture, and tens of thousands of books out of the library and into the parking lot.)

Conferences are both exhausting (travel, long days, rushing from one room to another, meeting lots of new people) and energizing (meeting new people, encountering new ideas, thinking about how you can bring those ideas back to your own library or workplace). I’m glad I was able to follow along virtually this year, thanks to those who wrote, tweeted, and linked.

Edited to add: My friend and fellow Student-to-Staffer (2011) wrote a great recap of all the programs, panels, and roundtables she attended at ALA 2013, including sessions on young adult literature, graphic novels, ARCs, and the New Adult panel. It’s worth a read, especially if you’re a YA librarian and/or a school librarian.

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