The good news: #PLA2022 hosted multiple sessions on intellectual freedom and book challenges. You can guess the bad news: there has been an uptick in book, service, and program challenges so there is a big need for these sessions.
At the Friday morning YA crossover panel—featuring three authors live and in technicolor and one author writing in answers from a quarantine bubble—I was once again reminded of how exciting the coming weeks and months of the publishing landscape will be.
I spent Thursday totally fangirling over the abundance of authors present everywhere – in the exhibit hall signing autographs, at the children’s author breakfast, and participating in panel discussions such as the Mystery Author Panel and the Press Play Audiobook talk. The authors in the audio book panel discussed the challenges of finding voices for their characters and how to make the storytelling come alive. Brian Selznick spoke about the challenges of translating a book like The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which has such a large visual component into an audio book. Jordan Ifueko, author of the Raybearer series spoke about growing up in a family with a strong oral storytelling tradition and how to successfully weave the components of that tradition into her audio books. What I remember the most about the day was that each of the authors talked about the real world events that influenced their stories…
Thursday morning I had the absolute pleasure of sharing breakfast with a room full of librarians and listening to four stellar authors speak about their books. I tweeted that it was the author panel of my dreams: Dhonielle Clayton, Alex Gino, Rex Ogle, and Traci Sorrell.
Each of the Career Self-Care Sessions offered at #PLA2022 Virtual encouraged learning from every situation and being positive as you move forward. As I complete my LIS degree and embark on a job search this spring, these were timely messages, but they are also applicable for anyone applying for a new position or seeking to grow in their career.
Censorship is a hot topic right now and a genuine concern for libraries everywhere. To my knowledge, my community hasn’t yet had any formal challenges. Still, I like to be prepared. So, I nervously and dutifully tuned into “Prepare Your Library for Today’s Censorship Battles.” As if the topic itself weren’t enough, the presenters were ALA staffers: Deborah Caldwell-Stone and Kristin Pekoll from ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and Megan Murray Cusick of ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office.
When I realized that #PLA2022 was happening in person, in Portland, I knew the one thing I had to do. Visit Beverly Cleary’s stomping ground! I had to pay homage to the dearly departed author of the enduring characters Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Henry Huggins. After the preconference I attended I took the tram to the Grant Park-Hollywood neighborhoods. The Multnomah County Library has a ”Walking with Ramona” walking tour map of landmarks featured in Cleary’s books and from her own childhood.
As those of us attending #PLA2022 signed in virtually for the opening session, there was great joy and energy from at least 38 of the United States, a number of our Canadian neighbors, and even attendees from Thailand and Lithuania. The fun music had us all dancing and we speculated on whether this music was playing in Portland or not as the audience seemed much calmer then we were. There was great collegiality in the chat, and much gratitude expressed for being able to participate from a distance.