I'm not sure how many public librarians are able to attend ALA conferences regularly; my guess is that the privilege is mostly given to Library Directors or Branch Managers or Heads of Departments. It's certainly not cheap to go and the only reason I was able to attend is because the conference was in Boston, which is an easy day's drive to and from. I was only able to go for one day out of the four, but that itself was a triumph because school library employees often don't have the funding for extensive trips, even if they are for professional development.
It was wonderful to be back in Boston again, even if I was just in the convention center all day. I commuted to Boston 2-3 times a week for two years as I completed my Master's in Children's Literature, and I don't regret it. In fact, it's like the city was welcoming me back, because one of the first people I saw at the conference waved at me. I knew she looked familiar, and as it turns out, she is also a Simmons alum.
At the end of the day, on the drive home, my husband asked me what the highlight of my day was and I think those first few moments in the unconference session were the highlight. After I said hello to Tahleen and touched base with her, I went and joined a group of librarians who were discussing how their locations cope with diminished support staff. We also discussed many other topics, like how to advocate for ourselves when we need more funding, more positions added, etc. Just speaking with others who struggle with similar issues as we do in our school library, and having something to contribute to the conversation (and keeping that dreaded imposter syndrome at bay) was enough to make me happy I'd gone.
After the unconference, I spent a half an hour trying to figure out how to get to the next session I wanted to attend. When I realized it meant taking a shuttle across the city, I decided to find a session in the convention center to attend in order to maximize my time there. I paid $8.00 for a garden salad, one of the things I do NOT miss about being in the city is the overpriced food, and then waited a little until my next session.
I decided to attend a workshop on Summer Reading Programs because right now we are hoping to promote summer reading options more. This workshop seemed directed towards public libraries, who are open all summer, but I wanted to get some insight for ideas they've used because we might be able to adapt them into something we can promote in June, and then in September finish with the promotion using a theme or incentive.
Afterwards, I made my way to the ballroom for the Author Forum. My husband was pretty jealous when I told him that documentary genius Ken Burns was one of the authors I saw speak. Burns has his first children's book coming out this year. The topic of the book, the Presidents, doesn't seem particularly fresh, but I'm hoping that Burns will infuse some of his trademark stylistic tricks into his text.
I left the Author Forum a few minutes early because I wanted to be in the exhibit hall as soon as it opened. I knew I wouldn't have much time to score the swag. I had about 40 minutes in the exhibit hall, and I grabbed as many posters, stickers, bookmarks and ARC's as I could hold. I also managed to get a free Berenstain Bears book, and got it signed by author Mike Berenstain (son of Stan and Jan, the creators). My husband was also a little jealous about that.
So now I'm sitting here, trying to sort through the swag and organize it.