Hello, fellow librarians. I know many of you just attended AALL this past July. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend; however, I was able to attend ALA—the American Library Association conference this past June. It was in Chicago at McCormick Place.
The best part about ALA is if you do not want to attend the entire conference, you can get an exhibit hall pass. The exhibit hall pass cost $75.00 dollars this year, but there was also an opportunity to get a free pass through RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System). The exhibit hall is both amazing and overwhelming. Those of you who have attended before can attest to this. There are authors, illustrators, vendors, presentations, and programs all happening at the same time.
I had the opportunity to meet Nikki Giovanni, and I could have gone home after that. I did not. I walked around for a few hours and met authors, and talked to vendors and, of course, other fellow librarians. ALA is geared toward public librarians, but I saw librarians who worked in every type of library from special, academic, to law. LexisNexis and Westlaw vendors were also in attendance. There were so many authors signing books, handing out ARCS (Advance Reader Copies), and just mixing with the crowd. I was told that Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, was in attendance and mingling with the crowd. I did not get the opportunity to meet her, but there were many who did.
Let’s talk about the energy. There is something about being in a space with thousands of librarians and book lovers. The feeling was electric and positive. I saw a group of high school kids entering the exhibit hall and one young man said: “This is the best thing ever!” Indeed it is. Just being around so many book lovers is both refreshing and energizing. Another great thing about ALA is that if you missed attending this year, no worries; it comes to Chicago every few years. The next dates are in 2020, 2021 and 2023. For more information, you can go to: http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/ala-upcoming-annual-conferences-midwinter-meetings.
So the next time ALA is in the area, you should get an exhibit hall pass and go see what all the fuss is about.