When I became a children’s librarian in 2014, I tried to adopt the mantra of just try things. I took that attitude and applied for the Penguin Random House Young Readers Grant (and many other grants and programs).
I was fortunate enough to win the grant and attend my first full ALA conference in Chicago.
I had attended conferences before but there were five special perks from this grant that I would not have received elsewhere:
- The full experience. Because the 2017 conference was in my hometown of Chicago ,many of my friends and colleagues attended for a day or two. With my stipend, I was able to attend the entire conference from start to finish and truly reap all the benefits. (Example: a notebook full of awesome ideas I have already started to implement and a pile of amazing ARC’s).
- Opportunity to attend separate from my library. The stipend paid for my conference registration fees, which meant that my library was able to send an extra staff member. This meant my librarian partner in crime was able to attend too. So thanks Penguin Random House for giving us double the benefits!
- A ticket to the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet. As many people call this “library prom” this was one of the most amazing experiences ever. Kelly Barnhill’s speech gave me goosebumps and Javaka Steptoes speech left me truly realizing why I am a children’s librarian.
- Connections with individuals in other industries. It is easy to gravitate towards other librarians and build your relationships wit them- which is awesome an essential to any career. However, this award got me talking to people from the publishing houses and talking to them like they were my friends (not just someone who gave out free books). I’m looking forward to seeing these individuals at future conferences and continuing to build relationships with them.
- Recognition and honor. Like any typical Hufflepuff librarian honor and recognition can be a little awkward seeming. However knowing how many talented and amazing children’s librarians are out there and meeting the other award recipients was truly a humbling experience.
People at ALA have been to 10 or 20 or 30 conferences. Thanks to Penguin Random House, I will always remember my first.
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