Sunday, January 17, 2010

ALA Midwinter: my notes, experiences, meanderings, and lots more detail than you probably want but I'm putting it in anyways

It occurs to me I should have borrowed my friend's computer and written up my ALA notes earlier, because I felt wonderful all weekend, even though my friend's roommates have a cat (which I am allergic to but it must have been a hypoallergenic cat b/c I had practically no reaction at all) and then when I finally got on the plane to come home, I thought "hmm. I am sick." and so I was. I don't know how that happened. Anyways. Here is my ALA adventure, minus the books which will come later.

  • I successfully navigated the Milwaukee airport and the Boston subway system, which is pretty cool, and arrived at my friend's apartment in Dorchester. Very cool top floor flat, like being in the Little Princess' attic! Much more comfortable, of course. I spent most of the afternoon wandering around Dorchester and doing a little knitting. Interesting town.
  • We both trooped off to ALA Friday evening and seized tons of book loot.
  • I met Melissa Walker! I thought I'd blogged about her fascinating and excellent book, Under the Snow, but I guessed I just raved about it to my colleague, Miss Pattie. Anyways, we have ordered a copy and I was delighted to discover she has a similar book about rain out now and a frog book coming soon!
  • Random fact: One of my friend's roommates works for Sarah Beth Durst! Is that not the ultimate in cool? She says she's very nice.
  • We went to a Cape Verde restaurant for dinner, which was definitely new to me but delicious.
  • The big one! Sarah (my other library Sarah friend - I have several) took me on the subway to the Boston Public Library....what can I say? My childhood dreams were shattered. When I was a teenager, I used to imagine working at the BPL. I picked out the branches that looked the best. I browsed their catalog. I later applied to Simmons, but it was too expensive and for many other reasons I ended up going to library school in Champaign/Urbana. Which was good. Anyways, back to the BPL. The entrance was grand and imposing, the reading/reference room was gorgeous (and oddly similar to the reference room at UIUC). The general library....was so sad. I was so disappointed, especially in the children's room. Books piled higgledy-piggledy on shelves and on top of each other, dingy, worn, and icky-looking, antiquated and humongous spine labels covering half the spine, the whole children's area was just so.....sad. The teen room was much nicer, probably because it's newer. It felt a lot shinier and there were a couple friendly librarians in there (not that the children's librarian wasn't friendly. she was.) and it looked like they had quite a few programs. I guess they are having budget shortages probably and don't have enough pages or money to replace books. And my friend said lots of the neighborhood branches are really nice. But it was a cherished dream....broken. Sniff.
  • So, to cheer me up, Sarah took me to find the ducks in the Boston Public Gardens. They still had their Christmas bows on and I got pictures of me and the ducks!
  • Then we zipped down to the conference and I got into the HarperCollins preview just in time. It wasn't really new to me, because I read Betsy Bird's account of the preview on Fuse 8 and I'd already spent a lot of time at the HarperCollins booth, but it was interesting to hear their take on the books and made me take a second look at some I had dismissed earlier.
  • More books
  • Delicious Thai food cooked by my friend's roommate.
  • I went with my friend and her fiancee and her roommates to church. It's a very interesting building, a converted old Bostonian house, where different churches and groups meet on each floor. Very friendly people.
  • Vietnamese sandwiches for lunch. My culinary experiences were widened quite a bit on this trip!
  • Now is when things start getting sticky. After much cogitation and consultation of the post office online, I decided it would be cheaper to pack all my books into my duffel bag and pay to check it, then shove the books that didn't fit and my pajamas into my smaller canvas bag as a carry-on. However, I knew it was supposed to rain/snow on Monday and didn't think I could manage to get it all on the train, to the conference center (where I had decided I simply had to go on Monday for reasons I will explain later) and back onto the train and to the airport. So, my solution was to take my duffel and poster tube down on the train, check them into the bag check overnight, then come back Monday morning, mail the tube, grab the things I needed, and lug everything to the airport.
  • Only one problem: my bag split on the way down there and the bag check didn't allow you to leave stuff overnight. What???
  • My amazing friend, who is, as her fiancee says, Always Right, actually drove downtown and picked me up. Sniff. She was so sweet. We patched my bag with packing tape and staples and watched the second half of Elizabeth Gaskell's the Return to Crandon on Masterpiece Theater which I had never heard of but found fascinating.
Monday: In which a carefully planned operation mostly works
  • So, I got up early and stuck my bags in Sarah's car. I then took the train down to the exhibition center and camped out in front of the doors for about half an hour until they opened, at which time I hurled myself towards the ABDO booth.....b/c I had been told on Saturday that they would be selling their massively excellent $20 library bound comics for $5!!! I achieved my goal and snatched the Scooby-Doo set....and they told me they weren't selling them until noon! Wail! Sad Puppy Dog Eyes! Sweet ABDO rep found another set to put on display and sold me the whole 8-volume set. Yay!
  • I mailed my poster tube. I hastily bought socks. Hey, they were stripey! I ran for the bus. I missed it. I waited. I got on the bus. It started. It stopped. The driver got out. The driver got in.
  • In the end, Sarah (with my luggage in her car) and I dead-heated each other to the airport and managed to hook up. I zipped up to the ticket counter, checked my taped and stapled bag, and the very nice lady said since I was intending to carry on my large canvas carry on I could check it for free (I never question falling out of the sky things like this) and....the flight was delayed.
  • and delayed
  • and delayed
  • I finally got back a couple hours late, missed the program I was supposed to be doing, but my aide did an excellent job of covering for me, and now I am home, as I said, somewhat sick, and digging into my book bags!

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