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Sweet Home Chicago: Christie G’s Highlights for Annual 2013

Can I say that I am SO excited for Annual? Chicago is a fun city to visit, but doubly so for me because I have family close by, and some are going to be able to make the drive and see me while I’m there! BONUS! But there are so many fun things to do (aside from meeting authors and meeting up with my conference family)- I’m always double booked on the things I have on my schedule. Here are my MUST DOS for this conference:

FRIDAY (flying in from Texas)

Bleak New World: YA Authors Decode Distopia– Friday, June 28, 8-10 p.m., Sheraton Ballroom 5.  Join Booklist Publications for this year’s Books for Youth forum, featuring a stellar lineup of YA authors, who will discuss the wildly popular genre of dystopian literature for teens. Speakers will include: Lois Lowry, Cory Doctorow, Veronica Roth, and Patrick Ness.

SRRT All Task Force Committee– Friday, June 28, 7:30 – 9p.m., Hilton- Buckingham Room. I’m going for a bit to this, representing the Rainbow Project as I’m serving as the Chair this year. Interested in learning more about the Rainbow Project or other committees within the Social Responsibilities Round Table? This is the place to start.


Multicultural Programming for Tweens and Families– Saturday, June 29, 8:30 – 10 a.m., McCormick Place Convention Center, S404d.  In the spirit of El día de los niños/ El día de los libros, celebrate many children, many cultures, and many books throughout the year. Hear from a panel of librarians and community partners who will share successful programs such as a Día Family Book Club, a weekend full of multicultural events, and a culture-focused, one book-one city initiative. Stay for an I-DÍA Showcase featuring hands-on program activities, and receive how-to handouts from libraries across the country.
SUNDAY (also Family Visit Day- YEA!)

Cory Doctorow: More Than a Book-Lined Internet Cafe- Sunday, June 30, 3-4 p.m. McCormick Place Convention Center, S105a-c.  LITA President Zoe Stewart-Marshall welcomes digital rights activist, science fiction writer and Boing Boing co-editor, Cory Doctorow. This lively, thought-provoking talk will look at how libraries can and do stand on the front lines of the debate over the role of free information, and free information technology in ensuring the healthy maintenance of a free society. And yes, he will talk about DRM.

Graphic Novel Stage: Free Comic Book Day at the Library– Monday, July 1, 12 noon – 1 p.m.,  McCormick Place Convention Center, Exhibits Floor, Graphic Novel Stage.  Held the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day has become a highly-anticipated annual tradition for comic book and graphic novel shops and fans. Libraries can also tap into this excitement by hosting their own Free Comic Book Day events. This panel will show librarians how to put their own FCBD together, including tips on partnering with local comic shops, utilizing their graphic novel collections, acquiring comics to give away, and more. Oh, and Karen and I are part of the panel.

TUESDAY (flying back from Texas)
Closing Session: Octavia Spenser– Tuesday, July 2, 9:30 – 11 a.m., McCormick Place Convention Center, S100a. Find out what Octavia Spencer has recently been busy with—including appearing on 30 Rock and writing her first novel. Spencer is keynote speaker at the Closing General Session. She’ll be talking (among other things) about her upcoming first novel, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit (October 2013, Simon & Schuster).
Are you going to be at ALA Annual?  What are you planning to hit?

Things I Never Learned in Library School: The Backside of Being Involved

Librarians are unique in that they get to their degrees in a variety of different ways. Not everyone steps to their master’s right after undergrad- I know I didn’t, and I wasn’t the only one in my courses who took a roundabout path, either. That Guy and I married right after our undergrad graduation, and we moved to Texas for his job, and it wasn’t until a few years later that I was able to enroll into a MLS program. I was on a commuter schedule, and so were all of my MLS classmates- we didn’t stay on campus, we all drove, so there wasn’t that band of activities that I had had during undergrad and I missed it. There were study groups, and groups of friends that got together, and we had our GLISA (Graduate Library and Information Studies Association- our student chapter of the ALA), but that was it. And I had been a student member of ALA, and a member of our state association, and going to the state conferences for the library job I was in all during my master’s degree, but none of this membership or attendance was really active.

When I graduated, I got my first job with my degree in hand, and then wondered, what do I do now? I had my job, but I wanted to do more with the professional community.

I have to credit my library’s administrator with getting me involved in ALA. He sent out an email to people detailing information about The Amelia Bloomer Project, and I cleared it with him and my manager at the time, and with their OK I sent in my resume and information. Lo and behold, I was accepted, and served on that committee for a number of years. Since then, I’ve been on a variety of committees for YALSA (including the Midwinter Institute in San Diego, and will be serving on Teen Tech Week), I’ve co-chaired The Amelia Bloomer Project, and I am chair this year for The Rainbow Project. But I wouldn’t have even known where to start within the professional organizations without their help.

Getting involved with committee work has been incredibly rewarding to me. I’ve made a ton of friends, some family, and a lot of connections that I would never have made otherwise. It has brought me out of my shell, and made me a better librarian and manager because of it. Do I think I would be where I am now if I hadn’t gotten involved in committee work? Possibly. However, I know that I wouldn’t have had a number of opportunities to meet and form personal relationships with authors and other librarians around the country if I had just attended conferences.

Getting involved is important because we *can* and *do* make a difference. There are ways to get involved that fit any budget, large or small or non-existent (trust me, I’ve been there). 
The first thing to do is to take a look at yourself- really know what it is that you want to do, and what your limitations are within yourself and within your position. 

  • Do you have the commitment to read an insane amount of a specific type of books over the year, and talk about them fully without getting your feelings hurt?  Book committees, no matter what the type, can get personal without people ever meaning to.
  • Do you have the backing of your boss and your administration? Will they honor the commitments that you have to make to attend conferences? If not, investigate virtual committees.
  • Do you have the personal time to devote to a committee? We don’t know about family emergencies, but will your significant other / family get upset if there’s a chat every Wednesday night or you *have* to read and comment on a certain number of books before Halloween, or you have no sleep a certain week of the year due to a presentation or a lost author contact?
  • Can you keep yourself organized and your work life, personal life, and professional life separate?
  • Do you have the finances to keep up with your commitment? If you’re thinking about an ALA committee, you’re not only looking at the ALA dues and the section dues; if you have to go to conferences you have the registration, travel, food, and housing as well. If you’re thinking about a state committee, the cost can be the same or higher. Does your position allow you to get paid back for any of it, or is it all coming out of your pocket?
  • Do you think you want to blog? Do you have access to a computer, and to books/materials that you want to blog about? Do you have a thick skin?  Things can get pretty nasty at times with comments and criticism.
  • Have you thought about doing something outside of your current wheelhouse? We know we all love teens, but if you’re feeling punchy look for things in other areas that might interest you- Office of Intellectual Freedom, Social Responsibilities Round Table, GLBT-RT.

Ready to get involved?

  • YALSA does theirs in two groups:  virtual process groups are appointed in the spring, while selection committees are appointed in the fall, so if you’re interested in selection (book committee) work, NOW is the time to get your info in.
  • ALSC has nearly 60 committees that need volunteers, split into seven different groups.
  • GLBT-RT has two book committees taking applications for fall appointments (The Rainbow Project and The Stonewall Awards), as well as other committees that have spring appointments.
  • SRRT has a number of committees, including the Amelia Bloomer Project. To learn more about the committees, contact one of the leaders or attend a meeting and join in.