2018 Reading Wrap-Up

Here’s the 2017 reading wrap-up, with links to all previous years (through 2013). This year, I read a rather astonishing number of books: 597. But let’s start breaking down that number…

Partially-read and Started-didn’t-finish: 19. Some of these I read a few pages of, others a few chapters or chunks; there were some cookbooks, gardening books, and how-to books that I didn’t read cover to cover, as well as a novel I gave up on, a book of essays, and a book of poetry I read parts of but didn’t finish.

Early reader: 35. I created this new tag in LibraryThing this year as I started reading these with my daughter. They have more words than most picture books – certainly more text per page – but they still have illustrations on every page.

Picture books: 359. Yeah, here’s where it gets crazy. Almost all of these I read with my daughter, most more than once (some many times), and I probably used a few dozen in my storytimes.

Now we’re down to a much more reasonable 184 books this year, especially when you consider that a lot of those are middle grade or young adult:

Middle grade: 44

YA/teen: 41. (Some books (8) were tagged both middle grade and YA, because I don’t have a “tween” category.)

Graphic novels: 18. Nearly all of these were middle grade or YA, and thus are included in the numbers above.

Audiobooks: 25. These are also included in other tags, mostly children’s, middle grade, and YA, with the exception of one Agatha Christie (Murder on the Orient Express), Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman’s The Greatest Love Story Every Told, and Morgan Jerkins’ This Will Be My Undoing.

That brings the number down to 107 adult fiction or nonfiction books.

Nonfiction: About 32, including some how-to books on gardening, sewing, quilting, cleaning, and cookbooks, along with Big Biographies and Serious Works of Nonfiction and Critical Essays etc etc etc.

Fiction: 36

Short stories: 11

And people said I wasn’t going to be able to read as much once I had a kid!

Math whizzes will notice that the numbers don’t entirely add up; that’s due to overlapping tags.

 

Pie chart showing author gender
For as long as I’ve been a LibraryThing member (about 6 years now), my “author gender” pie chart has been very close to 50-50, tipping definitively female just last year. That trend continues this year.

 

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: I started using this tag in LibraryThing toward the end of 2017. I use it for books by authors of color (AOC) or about characters who are diverse in some way – their race, socioeconomic status, nationality, immigration status, abilities, etc. In other words, if it’s not straight, white, middle-class America, I’m trying to use this tag.

Five-star ratings: 36! I was much more generous this year than last year. Of these, 16 are picture books or early readers.  (Blog post about favorite books read in 2018 to come.)

Re-reading: As a kid, I re-read my favorite books all the time. Now I re-read less, in no small part because I worked in publishing after college and realized how many new books there are, and now I work in libraries and am surrounded by them every day. But I do believe in the pleasures of re-reading, especially after many years have gone by (or not). This fall I re-read the entire Harry Potter series start to finish (including The Cursed Child) and it was delightful to zoom straight through them all without having to wait years for the next one to be published. I also re-read some of Kate Milton’s Nagspeake books this winter, Ghosts of Greenglass Hosue and Bluecrowne. I re-read John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down because I read it so fast the first time, and I re-read Mandy by Julie Andrews, which I barely remembered at all but loved all over again. I re-read Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, which I hadn’t read since my first semester of college, and The Princess Bride by William Goldman, and of course I read many, many picture books over and over.

Another year of reading is off to a great start – 21 books already in January, include Kelly Link’s excellent story collection Get In Trouble, which I’ve been meaning to read for years, Kelly Loy Gilbert’s astounding YA novel Picture Us in the Light, and Laurie Colwin’s 1988 book of food essays/memoir, Home Cooking.

 

 

Advertisements

Accio Firebolt! Harry Potter trivia at the library

Cardboard Hermione
Cardboard Hermione says: Have you done your homework?

Several months ago, I was talking to the Assistant Director at our library, and then I found myself planning an all-ages Harry Potter trivia event at the library. (Does this happen to you?) Last Saturday was the big day, and all our preparation paid off! It helps that Harry Potter is perennially (permanently?) popular, so registration filled up well before the day of the event, and we had a long waitlist. Nearly everyone who had a spot came, which meant we had just over 60 people, and everyone seemed to have a great time – kids, teenagers, and adults alike.

Here’s what we did, so you can do it too!

Preparation

This is not a program that one person can run alone, at least not the way we did it. Figure out the scale of your event, then how many people you need (or, figure out how many people you have, and then how much you’ll be able to do). This event can scale up or down; we had three staff people at the event, and decided to do food and drink, music and some decorations, and a photo frame, but you could skip those and just do the trivia, or you could make it even bigger (see: Brookline Public Library).

Here are the tasks we carried out before the day of the event:

  • Figure out a point person, who will visualize and organize the event, match people and tasks, and make sure everything is ready (that was me!)
  • Make up the questions! We had seven rounds (one for each book) of five questions each. Some were multi-part and worth more points. We also had a couple of practice questions, and some between-rounds questions (no points for those).

    img_20190112_134921
    Door prizes: House-themed tumblers (Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Slytherin)
  • Buy (or make) prizes. We got door prizes (House mugs) and prizes for the winning team (Harry Potter themed candy). The candy came with temporary tattoos, which we put out for all attendees to take and use.
  • Set up the scoring spreadsheet. We used Google Spreadsheets.
  • Test the tech. I had a hand-held mic, and played music from the soundtrack of the first movie using a projector as our CD player.
  • Add the event to the calendar on the library website, and manage registrations/waitlist.
  • Promote the event on library social media. We use Hootsuite to push to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (I posted several warm-up trivia questions to Facebook to gauge interest in the program before we officially put it on the calendar.)
  • Plan and prepare food and drink. One of our children’s librarians caters on the side, so she did 100% of the food and drink prep, including pretzel wands, “cauldron cakes” (pumpkin cookies), and Butterbeer (non-alcoholic, of course).
  • Design and create a photo frame. We have a very artsy teen librarian, who transformed mat board and paint into the front page of the Daily Prophet.
  • Make “quills”: Our teen librarian found fancy feathers and metallic tape to make Bic pens into magical quills (we also put an anti-cheating spell on them, of course).
  • Gather other decorations. I had access to a life-size cardboard Hermione, several owl puppets, some wizard hats, and some Golden Snitches.

Day of Event

Here are the tasks we handled in the hour before the event, during the event, and the hour after the event:

img_20190112_133021
Golden Snitches flying above the doorway
  • Set up chairs in clusters of twos, threes, and fours. (Some people also sat on the floor.)
  • Set up tech: Start the music and do a mic check. We had the soundtrack to the first movie playing at low volume throughout the event. A mic is essential for accessibility (and so that the MC doesn’t lose their voice after two hours).
  • Food and drink: Set up snacks and butterbeer, attend the snack table throughout the event, and clean up afterward.
  • Decorations: Hang up Golden Snitches, place owls and wizard hats around, set up cardboard Hermione.
  • Photo frame: Show people how to take pictures with the photo frame (get verbal consent – or signed waivers, if that’s what your library requires – to post any photos on library social media).
  • Greet attendees: I set up a small table at the door to the room so I could check people off the registration list as they arrived, then explain how to enter the door prize raffle, and give each team a quill and half a pad of post-its.

    Gold-tipped feathers attached to pens
    Quills (pens with fancy feathers attached)
  • Introduction, announcements, and reading the questions and answers! Make sure to point out emergency exits. And give people a few minutes to come up with a team name before the practice question.
  • Scorekeeping: We ended up conscripting a volunteer (thanks, Mom!) to assist our scorekeeper; see “what we’ll do differently next time” below.
  • Draw door prize raffle winners (a good time to do this is while the final scores are being tallied).
  • Announce winners and hand out prizes.
  • Clean up!
  • Post pictures to social media.

Budget

This can be really flexible, but here’s about what we spent:

  • Food and drink: about $100 for ingredients, including “Butterbeer” (about 70 cups; cream soda, whipped cream, butterscotch syrup; 1 bottle of soda, 2 cans of whipped cream, and 1 bottle of syrup left over), “cauldron cakes” (60 pumpkin cookies, none leftover), pretzel wands (80 chocolate and 80 plain; pretzels, chocolate, sprinkles; about 6 plain ones left over); “Every Flavour Beans” (3 bags of Jelly Belly jelly beans, none left over).
  • Prizes: Mugs for door prizes were $17.50 each ($70 total for four), and the candy and tattoos were $30.
  • Art supplies for photo frame and decorations: about $20 for the mat board and feathers (cost of paint and paintbrushes not included)
  • Total: About $220, not including staff time

What worked

Really, almost everything. We’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from attendees so far, and most things went pretty smoothly – we even ran on time! It was really helpful to gather advice from other librarians who had run similar programs before, and let staff who were helping with the program play to their strengths/interests. We also had a lot of enthusiasm and support from our awesome Assistant Director! And the questions, it turned out, were neither impossibly hard nor too easy. However, there are always little improvements to be made, so…

What we’ll do differently next time

  • Questions and scorekeeping: The between-round questions were originally intended to be for points, but our scorekeepers were having a little trouble keeping up (there were 14 teams, all running up the answers to each question on post-its), so I made the on-the-fly decision to have those be hands-up questions for no points; most teams got a chance to answer at least part of one of the between-rounds questions, just for fun. Our scorekeeper said afterward that having a separate page for each round of questions and answers would have helped a lot (i.e., Round One questions and answers on one page, Round Two questions and answers on the next page, etc.).
  • Allow more time for everyone to enter and get settled. As I said, we ran on time, but that’s mostly because we definitely didn’t spend 2-3 minutes per question as I had budgeted. We opened the doors about five minutes before 2pm, and didn’t really get started until 2:15. It took a while to check attendees against the registration list and explain how the door prizes worked, and meanwhile people were taking pictures with the photo frame, getting snacks, forming teams, and choosing team names.
  • Remember to read the answers after each round! People want to know. Also, one of our answers had a mistake in it (eek! I had S.P.E.W. standing for the Society for the Protection of Elvish Welfare when it should have been the Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare. No surprise that the team that corrected me on that was the eventual winning team!).
  • Also, read the team names aloud. After round one would be a good time. They were so clever! We didn’t announce the scores halfway through like they often do at pub trivia, but you could do that if your scorekeeper is caught up.
  • Prizes: The door prizes were a great idea (yes, I’m patting myself on the back for that one), but it would have been nice to have prizes for the top three teams instead of just the winning team. The HP-themed candy is cool, but there’s not a lot of bang for the buck, so I’ll try to find something else for next time – Harry Potter coloring postcards, maybe?

So, we didn’t get 320% on our Muggle Studies exam like Hermione, but Harry Potter trivia at the library was definitely a success, and I’m already looking forward to running it again later this year, perhaps around Harry’s birthday – ten points to your House if you know when that is!

Library social media (Facebook, Twitter) posts from the day of the event:

wpl-tw-hp1

wpl-fb-hp1

wpl-tw-hp3

wpl-tw-hp2

 

#Libfaves18, or, Top Ten Books of 2018

#Libfaves18 is a Twitter phenomenon in which librarians tweet out their favorite books published in 2018, one a day, for ten days, and someone compiles a list. Librarians love their lists, and in fact we already have a “Favorite of Favorites” list from LibraryReads, but librarians just love talking about books. And also, the year wasn’t over yet when the “Favorite of Favorites” list was published – there’s still more reading time in the year! (By that logic, we should wait till January to make our year-end lists – some of us do.) Another difference is that, to nominate books for Library Reads, you need to get galleys, read, and nominate them ahead of time; with Twitter, anyone can jump in.

Here are my #Libfaves2018:

  1. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (adult fiction)
  2. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (young adult fiction/fantasy)
  3. The Witch Elm by Tana French (psychological mystery/suspense)
  4. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins (picture book)
  5. Transcription by Kate Atkinson (adult fiction/historical/suspense)
  6. The Boy From Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis (middle grade fiction/fantasy)
  7. I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell (memoir)
  8. Julian Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love (picture book)
  9. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll (young adult graphic novel)
  10. Call Them By Their True Names by Rebecca Solnit (nonfiction essays)

This list may look quite different from my list (coming soon-ish) of best books I’ve read this year, because many of those were published before this year. For example, I just finished listening to the audiobook of Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, narrated by Jim Dale, and it was magical, but it’s from 2011 and therefore doesn’t qualify for #Libfaves18.

What are your favorite books that you read this year? Published in 2018 or not?

Updated 12/19/2018: The blog RA for All has a more thorough explanation of #Libfaves18, and past lists are hosted at EarlyWord.

Imagine it changed

Follow my breadcrumb trail…from a Booklist e-mail to “Maggie Reagan’s fantastic long-form review of Laini Taylor’s Muse of Nightmares” to this part:

In her Printz Honor acceptance speech, Taylor discussed the importance of fantasy, now more than ever. “Human decency depends on empathy,” she said. “Empathy depends on imagination.” And what fantasy gives readers, especially young ones, is the ability to imagine worlds that can be remade. They can look at a community that mirrors our own and imagine it changed, and only by imagining it changed can we hope to change it.

That reminded me of what Neil Gaiman had to say on the topic of fiction and empathy. I’ve quoted from this speech of his before, but here it is again, slightly abridged:

“And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy….You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed…

You’re also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it’s this:

The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different.

….Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.”

The bit above in bold (emphasis mine) is crucial. I included it in a slide when I presented on “Readers’ Advisory in an Age of Uncertainty” at MLA last spring, alongside recommendations of fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, and other speculative literature.

Personally, I haven’t encountered anyone who has flat-out declared that fantasy books are lesser than other books. Certainly, there are people who say they don’t like the genre, and that’s fine – every reader their book, etc. – though in closing oneself off to entire genres, one is likely to miss some great stories.

Cover image of Strange the DreamerBut Taylor makes a good point about fantasy being important “now more than ever.” I went looking for the full text of her Printz honor speech and couldn’t find it (let me know if you can!), but I did find a post by Karen Silverman about Strange the Dreamer on the SLJ blog “Someday My Printz Will Come.” Between Silverman and Reagan, I’ve been convinced to make Strange the Dreamer my first Laini Taylor book (finally!) and continue straight on to Muse of Nightmares.

As a side note, SLJ and Library Journal are pretty much the only places on the internet where the comments are constructive, intelligent, interesting, and relevant. Elsewhere, I usually stop scrolling at the end of the article and pretend comments don’t exist.

On the topic of fantasy, The Atlantic recently ran a piece entitled “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories.” I forwarded it along to all my children’s/YA reader/librarian friends, and while a few objected to the competitive aspect of the comparison (“There are so many good books on both sides of the pond!”), I won’t hesitate to admit that many of the magical books I loved as a kid (and still love) start with that tear in the fabric between our world and the other: “A tear in this fabric is all it takes for a story to begin.”

Of course there are incredible, magical, fantastical books from the U.S. and the U.K. (never mind all of the other countries in the world). But I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, read by Jim Dale, and I shivered when I heard Wendy ask, “Boy, why are you crying?” Pure magic.

2018 Mid-Year Reading Wrap-Up

It’s almost time for the mid-year wrap-up of books I’ve read and liked best so far this year. There’s still plenty of June left, but I’m preparing for a book talk later this month, so it seemed like a good time to go over the past five months of reading in my LibraryThing catalog. This isn’t BuzzFeed so I won’t be doing a “Top [odd number] Books You MUST Read RIGHT THIS SECOND” style of list, but I have separated them by category. As always, these are books I’ve read in this time frame; some are recently published, but others are older.

There are a lot of picture books, because we read a lot of picture books (and, at about 32 pages each, you can read many more of those – even with repetition – in the same amount of time it takes to read an adult book). So we’ll start there, and if you have no interest in picture books, then skip ahead!

Cover image of A Different PondPicture Books
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
There Might Be Lobsters by Carolyn Crimi (illus. Laurel Molk)
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
A Different Pond by Bao Phi (illus. Thi Bui)
Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins (illus. Paul O. Zelinsky)
Henry & Leo by Pamela Zagarenski
Sleep Like A Tiger by Mary Logue (illus. Pamela Zagarenski)
Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar
Cover image of Henry & LeoThe Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman
88 Instruments by Chris Barton
More More More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) by Barbara Bottner
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Fiction
Interestingly, all of these fall under the umbrella of “speculative fiction.”
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Cover of StarlingsAn Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
Starlings by Jo Walton
Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill (esp. the novella “The Unlicensed Magician”).

Nonfiction
Daemon Voices: Essays on Storytelling by Philip Pullman
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Cover of So You Want to Talk About RaceWhen They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

Cookbooks
Dinner by Melissa Clark: lots of good ideas to follow or riff on, all based on the idea of a single dish being a whole meal (though that single dish usually has many components)

Middle Grade & Young Adult
Stella by Starlight and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Cover image of The MarvelsThe Boy From Tomorrow by Camille P. DeAngelis
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson & Emily Carroll (graphic novel)
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
And this batch of novels, each of which is satisfying if you’re looking for contemporary realistic fiction with some romance and diversity: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman; The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler; When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon; Puddin‘ by Julie Murphy; You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Looking ahead to the second half of the year, I’m excited to read new novels by Kate Atkinson (Transcription), Rebecca Makkai (The Great Believers), Angie Thomas (On the Come Up), Hank Green (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing), and Therese Anne Fowler (A Well-Behaved Woman). Looking back at a to-read list from November 2017, there are still a few titles there I haven’t gotten to, and more coming out all the time….What books are you looking forward to reading?

PLA, day three: “The big ideas of the Internet were beautiful”

IMG_20180324_083431
Tim Wu at PLA

Tim Wu is a lawyer who clerked for a Supreme Court justice, worked at a Silicon Valley startup, then moved into academia; he’s now a professor at Columbia and a columnist for the New York Times. But if his name rings a bell for you, it’s probably because he coined the term “Net[work] Neutrality” in 2003.

The fundamental idea of Net Neutrality, said Wu, is that the user should decide what the internet is. The carrier (Internet Service Provider, or ISP) shouldn’t get in the way. ISPs should be “a medium in the true sense of the word medium, respecting the wishes of those on each side.” They should be “faithful agents” providing reliable service, not blocking, discriminating, or censoring.

The federal government adopted Net Neutrality as a rule under the Bush administration, but the Trump administration killed it (though it’s likely to return under the next administration). Why were they focused on that? “Free flows of information can be very threatening to those who wish to consolidate their power. The censorial instinct remains very strong.”

The next issue threatening our democracy, said Wu, is the “crisis of attention.” (His newest book is called The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads.) “Our attention has become our scarcest and most valuable resource…[and] when you have a purely attention-based business model, the competition runs to the bottom. It’s not who can be the most accurate, it’s who can capture attention.” 

As Cory Doctorow says, if you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product. Wu put it differently, as he described an 1830s New York newspaper publisher’s idea to re-conceive the audience as a product to sell to advertisers. The advertising model, he said, is “the harvesting and resale of human attention.” And this is the “original sin” of nearly all of the Internet’s giants: they “embraced advertising as their only business model and tied themselves business to attention harvesting.” (Wikipedia, as a recent New York Magazine article pointed out, is an exception.) This, despite Google founders’ early recognition that “advertising-supported search engine will always be biased, always serving two masters (users and advertisers) and cannot be expected to produce reliable results.”

The dark consequences of this setup are clear, with new examples in the news every day (most recently, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal). Sites and platforms based on an advertising model are driven to capture people’s time and attention, and to learn more about them in order to offer targeted ads – or to manipulate them.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 11.23.15 AM

“We’re at a moment in our democracy…information flow has changed how this country is governed.” What can be done? What should be done? Wu asked. Whose responsibility is it, who are the trustees of our time? He argued, “The largest information intermediaries of our time…must start operating with a true sense of fiduciary public duty or face regulatory consequences….The goal of aiming for truth is something that the tech industry needs to learn right now. The time has come.”

For the final two programs of the day, I indulged my YA-loving side. First was “How to Adult: Teaching Life Skills to Teens” presented by Kayla Marie Figard of San Mateo County Libraries and Elizabeth “Biz” Tanner of the County of Los Angeles Public Library. Their “How to Adult” programs teach “life hacks,” i.e. necessary life skills like healthy cooking, public speaking, car maintenance, etiquette, time management, organization, stress management, mindfulness, finding a first apartment, money management, self-defense, first aid, laundry (and sewing and mending), and the list goes on!

IMG_20180324_093428
A slide from “How to Adult” shows a word cloud of some popular topics

The presenters provided many short activities (tongue twisters for public speaking; a “multitasking is a myth” task) and a very handy program planning worksheet (see below). Some of their workshops for teens were single events, while others were a series. Nearly all included food, a surefire way to boost attendance at any program. Librarians ran some workshops, while others were conducted by outside presenters. With some research, you can find willing partners, like county/city/town departments, credit unions,  and local businesses; some presenters may come for free, others may charge a fee.

IMG_20180324_101954
Program planning worksheet

To decide on the topic(s), ask teens what they want to know! Think about your own young adult life – what did you wish you had known, and what surprised you? Talk to teachers at local high schools – they will know what school does(n’t) offer and where students’ knowledge gaps are.

Along with planning and running the programs, the presenters discussed evaluation and measuring outcomes – required for grant-funded programs, but good for every program. They suggested: (1) determine anticipated outcomes, (2) ask: do the programs teach teens something? Do they feel better prepared for adulthood? (3) conduct pre- and post-program surveys to assess growth.

This was an excellent program: the presenters were good speakers, and came prepared not just with their slides, but with copies of their worksheets, planning documents, examples and activities from their workshops. A+!

For the very last PLA program, I went to the YA Crossover, or “AAP Crossover Appeal: Books that Work for Teens and Adults.” Despite the program’s title, it didn’t really focus on the “crossover” aspect so much as the teen aspect, except in the sense that some of the audience had read some of the authors’ books as young adults, and still loved them.

Luanne Toth of School Library Journal moderated the panel of four authors: Ally Carter, Carolyn Mackler, Gayle Forman, and Ashley Woodfolk. Woodfolk is a debut author (The Beauty That Remains), and the other three are further into their careers. Mackler’s most recent book, The Universe is Expanding and So Am I, is a sequel to The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things (a Printz honor book in 2004).

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 11.24.41 AM

Here are a few quotes and paraphrases from the panel:

  • “I write about young people but I don’t write young stories” -Gayle Forman
  • “Young people are given license to feel your feelings.” There’s this idea that as you age you don’t feel things as strongly/intensely. You do have to moderate your feelings but you do have them. Satisfying as a writer and a reader. -Gayle Forman
  • “A lot of what happens in high school shapes your adult life….And you don’t really get it until you get older.” YA writing is cathartic because it helps revisit and dissect what happened & what you felt. -Ashley Woodfolk
  • “The world would be a lot better if we all read more broadly and more representatively.” -Ally Carter
  • “Libraries are our outposts in every corner of the country” (some places don’t have bookstores or people can’t afford books) -Ally Carter
  • “Encourage people to read everything…a kid might want to read something you won’t expect they want to read. Find out what a kid wants/needs” – Ashley Woodfolk
  • “Every book is a mirror. No matter how different somebody is from you, there is still an emotional through-line.” -Gayle Forman

And that is a wrap! See all PLA 2018 posts here. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go to this conference, and I think I made the most of it, attending a variety of sessions and programs. I do wish I had a Time-Turner and could have been to even more. If you were at PLA, or followed along via a great blog or Twitter thread, please share your favorite links!

 

 

PLA Conference 2018: Imagine the Possibilities

IMG_20180321_160127Despite “winter storm Toby,” PLA went more or less as planned. Over the next week or so, I’ll be condensing and revising my sixteen (16) pages of notes into a more easily readable, digestible format to share here, but for now, here is an outline of my conference activities:

Wednesday: Drove from the Boston area to Philly. Definitely not the worst weather conditions I’ve ever driven in, but bad enough to keep lots of people off the road, so no traffic! Arrived safely and in good time, checked in at the hotel, and went to the convention center to sign in and walk through the exhibit hall. Met some friendly vendors (especially from Charlesbridge and Candlewick), and picked up several Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs).

IMG_20180325_141615
Adult fiction and nonfiction

 

IMG_20180325_141700
YA and children’s

Thursday: Started bright and early with the morning’s “Big Ideas” talk, with author Elizabeth Gilbert. The exhibit hall opened up after her talk, and I was able to meet a few authors and pick up a few more galleys (Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead!). Then I caught a quick (20-minute) talk at the PLA Pavilion about “Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR): Play in the Library,” and – on the other side of the exhibit hall – caught part of the AAP Children’s Publishers Book Buzz, where we heard about upcoming titles.

For the first program of the day, I chose “Talking is Teaching: Opportunities for Increasing Early Brain and Language Development,” where we heard about a partnership between the San Francisco Public Library and Too Small to Fail. Then I zipped back into the exhibit hall to meet Simon Winchester and pick up his upcoming book, The Perfectionists. Lunch, and then the first afternoon program, “Push Comes to Shove: Supporting Patrons of Color in Your Institution.” At the break between that session and the next, I caught some of the AAP Adult Publishers Book Buzz. Finally – and this was the hardest time slot to choose a program, because so many looked so good – I went to “Lost in the Library? Never Again with User-Centered Design.”

IMG_20180323_123916

Friday: Another visit to the PLA Pavilion for a quick session on “Early Literacy Enhanced Storytimes: Intentionality is the Key,” then over to sit in on part of the Children’s Book Buzz. (I ran into an old acquaintance from publishing, Juliet Grames, who is now working for SoHo Teen!) The morning program I had planned to go to, “Re-envisioning the Library: Engaging Staff and Building Capacity for Change” with Maureen Sullivan had been cancelled, so I went to “The Path to U.S. Citizenship Can Start at Public Libraries” and learned about U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Following a tweet from NYPL Recommends, I went to visit Gwen and Frank to talk about books, and I might have been on a podcast. (Do you listen to NYPL Recommends? Let me know!) They were excellent to talk to (and they were handing out neat “The Librarian Is In” buttons). I grabbed a quick lunch from Reading Terminal, then sat on the floor to listen to some of the Adult Book Buzz before it was time for the afternoon programs: “Refuting the Idea of ‘Neutral’: Supporting Civic Engagement & Information in the Library” and “The Information Needs of Citizens: Where Libraries Fit In,” the latter with Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center.

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 9.32.26 PMScreen Shot 2018-03-25 at 9.31.45 PM

Saturday: Started the day early with the final “Big Ideas” speaker, Tim Wu, at 8:15. Two more sessions after that – “How to Adult: Teaching Life Skills to Teens” and “AAP Crossover Appeal: Books That Work for Teens and Adults” – and we were packed up and on the road back home.

IMG_20180322_203438Throughout the conference, I met library people from all over. I tried to strike up conversations everywhere, and met people from Grand Forks, North Dakota; Peterborough, New Hampshire; The Portland (ME) Public Library; Arkansas; New York (the Brooklyn Public Library and the NYPL); and Calgary, Canada. The Convention Center itself was also great: easy to navigate, pretty temperate (many conference centers are either overheated or like refrigerators), and full of art. And the section of Philly where it’s located is on that lovely, lovely grid, which makes it so easy to get around. Overall, a great conference!