ALA Annual 2010

My First ALA Annual Conference: Reflections from a Penguin Award Winner

I have had an incredible week at the 2010 ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC. By the fifth day, I got out of bed at 7:00 am and hobbled to the bathroom on swollen feet. I cursed my shoes and decided that fashion be damned, I was wearing my dirty running shoes to the conference that day. Certainly there was little time for running or working out in the swanky gym at the Grand Hyatt.

My husband and I arrived by train on Thursday and after a night without sleep, I was ready to get settled and unpacked in our hotel room. Early to bed, I arose the Friday morning refreshed and headed to the preconference, Drawn to Delight sponsored by ALSC at the Corcoran Gallery. This was a delightful day. One of the best conferences I have ever attended, I was able to spend time with Timothy Basil Ering, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, William Low, Tad Hills, and Javaka Steptoe. I was astounded by Brian Selznick as the opening speaker, and humbled by Jerry Pinkney as the closing act. This truly was an amazing day. With an under graduate degree in Art History, I found this to be a fascinating experience.

The next day consisted of getting my registration materials, and attending the AASL Presidents Program. Afterward, I spent some time with my husband learning the metro system and visiting museums. By Saturday night, it was back at the hotel getting ready for the Penguins Young Readers Group dinner at the Sofietel. What an evening of laughter and appreciation of all the comments made by editors and authors at this high class dinner. I kept pinching myself so I knew that I wasn’t dreaming. I was amazed to see David Small, John Green and David Levithan, Rosemary Wells, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jacqueline Woodson, and Nancy Werlin among others.

On Sunday, I was up bright and early for the Scholastic Breakfast at the Mayflower Hotel where Brian Selznick spoke again and was equally amazing as the first time I saw him and next, a shared cab ride to the Convention Center for the Young Authors Coffee Klatch. The line up was amazing James Kennedy, Kekla Magoon, Holly Black, Simone Elkeles, Laurie Halse Anderson, were just some of the authors that came to my table. I would have been happy sitting there for the next hour. I was always intrigued to find that the writers were just normal people who liked to write not unlike myself. They just took their desire to be a writer to the next level. After the coffee klatch I was back at the stacks collecting posters, books and other sundry items along with autographs. I found out the night before that I was invited to attend the Newbery/Caldecott Awards Banquet but I had already made plans. I had hoped to secure a ticket for my husband but they were already sold out. I felt a little guilty leaving my husband and friends on Sunday evening so I stuck to our original plans and missed the banquet much to my chagrin. I will watch it on Youtube when made available, plus I had already seen Jerry Pinkney at the preconference.

Monday proved to be a busy morning attending the ALSC Awards Presentations and Member ship Meeting, then the YALSA Membership meeting after that. Afterwards, it was time for a little site seeing at some of the Smithsonian museums. My final day at the conference was attending the Library Advocacy Day up on the Hill which I felt to be quite successful. It was well attended and I believe our meetings with the Ohio Congressional members were productive. First we met with Senator Brown’s aide and then representative Sutton’s aide in her office. I felt the group of librarians from my district was an articulate, well-spoken group and was very proud to be a part of that delegation.

As we made our way back to the hotel we stopped by Fords Theater and then packed and prepared for our flight back from Reagan International Airport the next day. In so many ways it was a wonderful trip. Washington DC is a great city and easy to maneuver using the subway. I never felt threatened or ill at ease. The museums were great and the restaurants were wonderful. The conference was energizing, and I feel very determined to continue advocating for libraries and look forward to attending next year’s conference if possible.

Susan Ridgeway, MLIS
School Librarian, Streetsboro City School
Streetsboro, Ohio

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