New Orleans: ALA 2018
21 June – 26 June
ALA…. the reason I went to New Orleans to begin with, specifically for VOYA Magazine (which is an library journal for young adult librarians, and it also advocates for young adults…. read more about it here). I’m one of two student interns for VOYA and the members of the advisory board were generous enough to extend an invitation to ALA to myself and the other intern Tegan (check out her blog here) to help them celebrate 40 years of VOYA and ALA!
But wait! There’s more! So much more!
ALA is more than just librarians meeting up to admire each other’s cardigans and talk books. There are authors to meet, sessions to attend, booths to go to, ARCs to grab, and networking to be done.
It’s a lot! So I’m gonna try to break down my ALA experience!
We were able to just explore the convention center and see what all was where. I’ve never been to anything like ALA, so my jaw pretty much hit the floor. There were people everywhere, stacks of books up to my waist that were free for the taking, and different booths offering services and products. And did I mention Michelle Obama gave the opening speech??? Sadly, Tegan and I didn’t get to see her talk, but I have no doubts that her speech was powerful and beautiful. She has an upcoming book (Becoming, which will be out later in 2018), and I’m sure after hearing her talk, librarians are even more excited to order this book for their libraries and to read it themselves.
First, Tegan showed me the ribbons that could be attached to our name badges. They were located at stands that said “If You Are One, Take One”. I was initially disappointed because I was not any of the ribbons, but by the last day I had quite a collection.
Next up, we began to wander through the convention itself, keeping our eyes out for ARCs and any surprise author signings. I got extremely lucky and managed to get my hands on an ARC of The Wicked King, which is the sequel to Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince. I took a sharp elbow to my collarbone, but it was definitely worth it. I found very quickly that for once, my small size was an advantage, as it was easier for me to weave in and out of crowds, which helped me get to the books more quickly.
Finally, we stopped by the VOYA booth. Tegan and I finally got to meet the rest of the board members in person (all of our meetings are done through online conferences) and discuss the plans for the 40-year celebration at ALA.
- The Printz Dinner: The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature recognizes the best book for teens, based entirely on its literary merit. Tegan and I got to listen to speeches given by the authors of the Printz Honor books and the Printz award winning book. Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give), Jason Reynolds (Long Way Down), Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer) and Deborah Heiligman (Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers) received the Printz Honor, and Nina LaCour (We Are Okay) won the Printz award. Each author spoke to the audience about their reactions to their Printz nominations, and they reflected on the recent, troubling events taking place in the United States. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the audience. The authors were so open and honest regarding the current affairs of our country, and yet I left with a little more hope than I initially sat down with. I have so much respect for each of these authors and their voices. I would listen to each of them speak over and over again….
- The Margaret Edwards Award Brunch: Author Angela Johnson (First Part Last) was the recipient of the Margaret Edwards Award. This award honors and author and a specific example of their work that has been a crucial novel in young adult literature. Hearing Angela Johnson speak was absolutely amazing. Once again, I was moved in ways I didn’t think were possible.
- YA Author Coffee Klatch: YA authors came to promote their recent works. Getting to talk one on one with Laini Taylor and Deborah Heiligman was especially memorable! YA authors + coffee + books = an amazing time.
- ALA was amazing and overwhelming! I was absolutely exhausted by the end of each day. When I wasn’t wandering the floor or going to sessions, I was working at the VOYA booth, promoting the magazine and meeting all sorts of new people.
I loved every second of it. I’m excited for my next ALA.