People told me that the ALA Conference would be big. I saw the numbers and told my husband, friends and family before I left that tens of thousands of librarians would be there. Still, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the sheer size of the event when I finally got there. Do I go to awards events and see authors speak? Buckle down and try to attend informative programs that could help me be a better children’s librarian in the future? Sit in on meetings to learn more about how to get involved in ALA? Take some time out and “do Chicago”?
In the end I did a mix of all of the above. The Newbery, Caldecott and Wilder Award speeches were definitely a highlight. Eighty-six year-old Author/Illustrator Ashley Bryan gave a warm, invigorating speech with call and response that touched everyone in the audience and brought them to their feet. Neil Gaiman’s speech wasn’t too shabby either.Another highlight was Chicago itself. I made time to visit the Field Museum, resplendent with pirate paraphernalia and the Chicago Art Institute where all of the paintings from the board game Masterpiece live.
Despite the feeling of “so much to see, so much to do @ ALA Chicago” I left feeling that I had managed to schedule in the perfect mix of business and fun. Next time I attend an ALA Conference (and I am sure there will be a next time) I hope to do so as a part of a committee. On Tuesday morning, I left ALA Chicago with a warm, fuzzy feeling that should keep me going strong as I finish up my MLIS and move out into Libraryland.
ALSC Student to Staff Volunteer