When I heard that the American Library Association Annual Conference was going to be in Chicago this year, I thought it would be the perfect excuse to visit some old friends in one of my favorite parts of the country while also schmoozing with librarians, publishers, and other literary-minded individuals and gaining insights into new trends in the profession. Then I learned that the trip I hoped to take to Israel through Birthright would be at the same time as ALA. I know Birthright is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and there will be other chances to go to ALA, but missing out on Chicago and on some of this year’s sessions still wasn’t the easiest decision to make.
Since I still don’t have a formal itinerary for Israel yet, and since Library Journal just (at the time that I’m writing this; here’s to scheduling posts in advance!) published their preview of ALA, I thought I’d take a look at the conference schedule. Talk about overwhelming! I’m a little relieved I won’t have to try to decide which sessions to attend — at some points there are three or four things I’d like to go to happening at once. I’m most interested in the sessions focusing on reader’s advisory, emerging technologies, and programming. A few that jumped out at me: “20 Programs Under $20,” “Beyond Genre: Exploring the Perception, Uses, and Misuses of Genre by Readers, Writers, and Librarians,” “What You Need to Know Before Gamifying Your Library,” “Leading Readers to Water…Guerilla Marketing for RA,” “40 Great Apps for Mobile Reference and Outreach,” and “GenLit & Genre X: Collections and Programming for 20- and 30-Somethings.” There are also going to be scores of authors, author talks, and books signings competing with these sessions. The one that makes me most wish I could clone myself or teleport for an evening will feature Cory Doctorow, Lois Lowry, Patrick Ness, and Veronica Roth presenting “Bleak New World: YA Authors Decode Dystopia.” Ness and Roth are two of my favorite authors and biggest inspirations, and I would have loved to hear them talk about the genre I enjoy both reading and writing the most.
So there’s my preview of ALA. I’m sure next year’s conference will have some equally-exciting programs and speakers, and with another year of professional experience under my belt, I may be able to get more out of it than I would this time around. And as much as I’d love to visit Chicago, next year’s conference will be in Las Vegas, a place that’s still on my to-see list.
For those of you who are going, enjoy the conference! Hopefully I’ll catch you at the next one.