Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Busy Librarians, Blizzards, and Books…Oh My!!!

My experience at ALA Midwinter (Kristina Hart)


What an amazingly fun and overwhelming experience for a first timer to attend an ALA conference.  I just knew I was in the company of great people when everyone I met recognized my scarf as Harry Potter’s Gryffindor instead of Iowa Cyclones!  It was also amazing to be in the presence of so many librarians, people who support libraries, and so many forward thinkers!

Exhibit Hall

There is no way I can describe to you how HUGE this place was.  I was so excited to go in that I was actually 1st in line.  Apparently the photographer thought that was pretty funny.  He asked me if I was more interested in the books or the food- I had no clue, I was just happy to be there.  He kept taking my picture and the crazy lady next to me.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised we made the front page of the ALA newspaper the next morning.  Yes, that would be me with my Iowa shirt and Harry Potter scarf!

I had 5 bags totally full of free books within the 1st 10 minutes of the opening of the exhibit hall.  I made many, many trips.  Getting these free books is HUGE!  Especially since the library budget in both my schools was eliminated!  When I left the conference on Monday, my little car was packed to the brim with new books (almost 12 boxes full!)  That, in itself, would make the conference worthwhile.  They also have food, posters, bookmarks, etc. 

Meeting Authors 

Hopefully, you can all appreciate the enormity of this, but I got to meet Mike Mullin.  Not only did he sign my book and take a picture with me, but he talked to me for 15 minutes!  He was very excited when he heard I worked in Anamosa, Iowa.  So, guess what?  He said he would LOVE To come to Iowa to do some author visits!  So, if any of you are interested in having him come, maybe we can split the cost ($600 per day plus expenses).  Feel free to contact me at:
 I am hoping to get him next fall.  He was such a sweet and funny guy!

I also got to meet Tom Angleberger.  Another personable guy!  He also signed my books, took a picture with me, and gave me Origami Yoda stickers that smell like pickles!  He even drew a rat in my book for me.  Such a nice guy!

Listening to Levar Burton

One of the biggest highlights was listening to Levar Burton (from Reading Rainbow and Star Trek) speak.  He is one of the most eloquent and inspirational speakers I have heard.  You MUST get his new book. Right now.  It is called “The Rhino who swallowed a storm.”  He read it to us and I totally cried.  He talked about the importance of books that help children to deal with obstacles or tragedies in their lives; that is ok to talk about depression or sadness.  He talked about his mother and said she didn’t just read to him, she read IN FRONT of him and that her love for reading impacted him in a huge way.  He also talked with great respect about those who paved the way for him like Fred Rogers, Alex Haley, and Nichelle Nichols.  He did a question and answer session as well.  I could seriously sit and listen to him all day. 

What else?

How about technology you can wear?  Great ideas on makerspaces and gaming in the library!  And so much more!  My only regret was not having a chance to meet Cece Bell in person and have her sign my book L  The line to meet her was always really long.  Maybe next time?

Funny Moments 

1.  Trying to use my secret stealthy ninja skills to take a picture of Cornel West when I saw he was on the escalator behind me and then I promptly tripped as the escalator ended and this is all I got…hopefully he got a good laugh out of it.

2.  You know you read too much (actually is there such a thing?) when you discover a huge mini-mall under your hotel and the 1st thing you think of is "if the zombie apocalypse happens right now, I am set!"  Then, as you peruse said hidden mini-mall, you go out into the blizzard to get Jimmy Johns subs only to find that the door is locked and now you must run outside in the blizzard, without a coat, in tennis shows, in 10 inches of snow, to get back into the hotel…


I met and connected with people from ALL over: Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Missouri, Kansas, etc.  We talked, shared ideas, swapped business cards…it was amazing to meet so many people just like me!
I highly recommend attending.  It is worth every minute.  If you need some ideas on how to make your case to attend, use this website: ALA: Why You'll Be More Valuable .  The view was gorgeous (view from my hotel) and it is well worth your time!

Thank you to Kristina Hart for this blog post!