Sunday, July 2, 2017

ALA 2017; or, Meh

Okay, it seemed like a good idea back in February. I'd grab a couple roommates, take the train down to Chicago, and spend a few days at ALA. Then summer started and I was sick and things went wrong and I was tired and the listing of sessions didn't look enticing and my roommates couldn't come and I knew there was no way I could or would do anything social...

But I went (I mean, it was too late for a refund so....yeah). It wasn't the worst experience in my life. Maybe in the top ten. I made it through. I did get some good ideas and feedback from sessions and made some good connections in the exhibit hall. I feel like I should have gotten more out of it, but I was soooo tired and stressed. Oh well.

Sessions of note
  • Stay and Play; or, Why does Canada have all the cool libraries? (I added that bit myself)
    • This was probably the most organized and best presentation, asides from actual content. The librarians had organized the story of how they revitalized their library into three parts - programming, collections, and space. Of course, some things don't apply - dropping circulation is not an issue for my department (not yet anyways) and we are significantly smaller (both in size and budget). However, they had a lot of amazing ideas about reworking space, programming, analyzing collections, cleaning out storage, and getting the most out of your youth services department for patrons. I am all set to remake my shelves with castors so I can roll them! (ok, probably not but still...)
  • Autism (again with the cool libraries Canada!)
    • Most of the panel wasn't really helpful - they did provide some resources which I'll be trying, but the experience of directors, state librarians, etc. isn't really relevant to me. But the one youth services librarian (from Canada of course) was super helpful. She had practical tips about her work with autistic teens from programming to volunteering to hiring and we talked for a long time afterwards about ways to serve this population in our libraries.
  • 52 weeks of summer learning
    • This was the Chicago summer library presentation. While I didn't find a lot of the discussions of their program useful (and frankly am a little suspicious of exactly how "successful" the program really is, just from what I've picked up from front lines Chicago librarians in passing...but it's a totally different community of course) BUT they had great suggestions on collaborating with schools, collecting and analyzing data, and creating a more cohesive summer reading program that extends throughout the year. I also find the science aspect interesting and would like to use some of the ideas to streamline my reading programs and other activities throughout the year.
Exhibits of note
  • WePlay. I was really glad I took the time to dig around in the random database and academic exhibits to find this one (why weren't they with the furniture? I have no idea!). They feature a lot of playscapes and toys built out of sturdy plastic. But, what really sets them apart from all the other toy companies I've looked at is that their products are designed around very specific developmental needs, based on universal design, and the very knowledgeable vendor gave me a lot of resources for connecting their materials with our children with special needs, as well as suggestions on connecting to this patron group. Expensive, but absolutely worth it. I will be spending a lot of time poring over this with Ms. Pattie.
  • Zoobean/Beanstack. My simple online registration with Google forms has been very successful - about 10% of our total registrations were online so far this year. Jess and I have been looking at different online options and Beanstack looked like the best option for me, but I wasn't sure we could ever afford it. I got some good information from another librarian at a discussion meeting and then more from the vendor. I don't know that we can do it next year, but possibly the year after that I'll be able to write it into the budget. It sounds flexible enough that it will work with our nontraditional program.
  • Browser Display Systems. I think the rest of the staff would have a collective breakdown if we tried to redo our dvd collection in these....but I'm really interested in just maybe doing the juvenile cds. Or gradually shifting over the children's dvds. So I can have more space for the Stay and Play ideas! And We Play systems! Ideas are percolating in my mind as I write! For the future of course. Not any time soon.
  • Brown Dog Gadgets. I am not, as some of my colleagues claim, averse to technology. I simply want there to be a reason for purchasing it, other than "this looks really cool!" Also, I hate 3-D printers. Pleasingly, I discovered a vendor who, if they did not actually agree with me, was at least excellent at pretending to do so. And they're local! They have an excellent array of tech kits, exactly what I've been looking for to add to the teen maker space, and I got a nice educator's sample pack including bristlebots, solar cockroach, and several sewing projects. Nice! I will be using them to restock the teen maker space next year.

Yeah, yeah, I know you're all going to be like "but what about the books!" and well....I get a lot of review copies (which I do NOT have to lug all over Chicago, bruising myself in odd places) so....yeah. Also, I kind of have a thing about celebrities, including authors. I refuse to stand in lines and I feel the whole author signing thing is just....weird. Ugh. However, I was pleased to meet Asia Citro and chat with her about science and fiction blends. I was disappointed that I missed Laurel Snyder (they moved her signing time!) because I wanted a signed copy of Charlie and Mouse for my colleague, who has two little boys. And, of course, Jon Scieszka is always a hoot and a nice guy to chat with. I did go back on Monday morning primarily to buy discounted nonfiction, specifically from Lerner. I picked up a lot of titles I had on my order list and many others. At 3 for $20 it was a really, really good deal!
  • Galleys
    • Keymaster's quest by Jason Lethcoe
    • Beatrice Zinker upside down thinker by Shelley Johannes
    • Click'd by Tamara Stone
    • Epic crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee (only teen galley I picked up for myself)
    • Hilde cracks the case: hero dog! by Hilde Lysiak (new Branches! I am SUPER EXCITED!!)
    • Sled dog school by Terry Lynn Johnson (Ice dogs was super popular, so I expect this one will go well too)
    • Abraham Lincoln Pro Wrestler by Steve Sheinkin (I didn't know about this one! Super excited! Mr. Sheinkin signed it for my new book club, Book Explosion!)
    • When I was a turkey by Joe Hutto (asked for a galley of this new mg nonfiction)
    • Bravelands: Broken pride by Erin Hunter (freely admit I do not plan to read this. I am not Ms. Yingling. It will be a prize for some lucky, lucky kid)
    • Laura Ingalls is ruining my life by Shelley Tougas (recommended to me as a read-alike to Mother-Daughter Book Club)
    • Elephant whisperer by Lawrence Anthony (another mg nonfiction I requested)
    • Daniel Coldstar: The relic war by Stel Pavlou
    • Before now by Norah Olson (ya)
    • All's Faire in middle school by Victoria Jamieson (really excited about this one - will she get the "homeschooled to public school" transition right?)
    • The handbook: no more rules by Jim Benton
    • Sweetest kind of fate by Crystal Cestari (ya)
    • Rosemarked by Blackburne (ya)
    • Unearthed by Kaufman and Spooner (ya)
    • Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse by Nicholas Gannon (picked this up for me - I didn't buy the first for the library)
    • Snow and rose by Emily Winfield Martin (I asked for this one b/c I love Snow White and Rose Red...)
    • Gamer squad by Kim Harrington (I wanted to read this so I was pleased I snagged a galley)
    • Suee and the shadow by Ginger Ly (gn galley)
    • Witch boy by Molly Ostertag (gn galley)
    • Whistling in the dark by Shirley Hughes (historical fiction. I might not actually read it, but somebody will!)
    • We are party people by Leslie Margolis (brand new title coming out in October! I asked for this one)
    • Sinking the Sultana by Sally Walker (mg nf)
    • Victor Dowd and the World War II Ghost Army (newest spy on history title! exciting!)
    • Charlie & Mouse and Grumpy by Laurel Snyder
  • Others
    • Zoey and Sassafras dragons and marshmallows by Asia Citro
      • I love this series soooo much and since Zoe starts with a Z...and I really, really want to use it in book clubs in the fall....I think I'm going to dig out money to add it to the series section even though it is not January. This is a measure of my true love! I was also quite pleased to meet Asia Citro and have her sign a book! (I will probably use this one as a prize, not add it to the collection, because it's signed). Also, Ms. Citro and her colleague had absolutely adorable skirts. SUPER adorable!
    • Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson
      • This was a free giveaway of a hardcover. I bought a copy for the library and skimmed it - I found the twist at the ending really threw me, but I think it will be popular. I'll either add this as an additional copy or use it as a prize. I'm going to see how popular it is this summer.
    • League of seven by Alan Gratz
      • The author was signing free paperbacks. Steampunk rarely does well in my library and I have never forgiven Brett Helquist for illustrating my beloved Green Knowe series, but I will give this one a try.
    • Frank Einstein and the antimatter motor; and the electro-finger
      • Jon Scieszka was signing and there wasn't a line! He's a fun guy and I appreciated a couple copies to use for Bookaneers.
    • Not quite narwhal by Jessie Sima
      • Aww, I really, really wanted a copy of this and my picture book budget is mostly gone. Woo-hoo! Jessie Sima is as cute as her book too.
    • Flashlight night by Esenwine and Koehler
      • Koehler was signing and I got a copy for my colleague's kid. It's a different art style than in his previous books. Interesting.
    • Coral reefs by Jason Chin
      • This was a signed giveaway at Permabound (at least I think it was Permabound...) I haven't decided if I'll use it as a giveaway or an additional copy since I want to use this in a book club.

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