ALA Annual 2010

To Thrive on Change: A Student Perspective of ALA Annual

Being a part of the 2010 ALA Annual Conference was incredible. The energy and sheer scale of the conference was at times overwhelming, and I was so fortunate to be able to experience it as both an attendee and a volunteer through the Student to Staff program working with ALSC.

At the ALSC preconference “Drawn to Delight,” I recorded the dynamic Timothy Basil Ering improvise a landscape in ink and acrylics. I was struck by his words as well as the artwork forming in front of my lens; he delighted in spontaneity and insisted that mistakes were just opportunities for change. As wet ink dribbled down the paper, his eyes lit up in recognition of not an irreversible error but a chance to turn a landscape into a waterscape.

What a great lesson for me as a conference attendee! As the weekend flew by, I found a willingness to adapt to be hugely valuable. A cancelled flight to D.C., a bit of rain on my site-seeing day, and occasional conflicting programs could have been sources of frustration for this persnickety traveler. But after some schedule adjustments and a deep breath, I discovered that there is always an opportunity to learn, grow, and enjoy. When I could not meet up with an old friend, I discovered a chance to meet someone new. A too-long line for an author signing meant I could fit in another program. And even an hour of rain gave my poor feet a chance to relax after all the exciting bustling through the exhibit hall!

The crowning event of the weekend was something I could not miss: I had been given a ticket to the Newbery-Caldecott Banquet. The night seemed to shimmer, at times literally (did you see Brian Selznick’s shoes?), but mostly in anticipation of the speeches of two beloved creators of children’s books. The 1,200 people cheered with the most sincere love for Jerry Pinkney, whose bright smile and expression of gratitude for his family brought tears to my eyes. Thom Barthelmess, President of ALSC, said it for everyone in the room: “it’s about time.” Rebecca Stead positively glowed in describing her Newbery phone call as a “lightning bolt of joy.” I am sure everyone in the room could feel the electricity of her moment.

I am so fortunate to be able to take these memories and lessons home with me. Though we librarians can never compromise our values and commitment to excellence, adaptation is vital for our future. Patrick Losinski, recipient of PLA’s Charlie Robinson Award for a library director’s implementation of innovation, said in his acceptance speech, “We have learned not only to accept change but to thrive on it.” However difficult it seems, a need and desire to adapt can create something even more exciting, fulfilling, and beautiful than ever imagined, whether on the canvas, at the conference, or in the library.

Allison Parker
Dominican University MLIS Student

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