This year’s ALA Conference in Las Vegas was an awesome experience. It’s basically librarian heaven. This was my first library conference and found it extremely motivating to be immersed in the profession exposed to so many knowledgeable and insightful professionals.
This was my first trip to Las Vegas in four years and I was so glad to be back! I stayed in the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino and had a wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower and pool. After settling in and grabbing some quick grub, I attended the first event on my conference schedule, the Michael L. Printz program and reception. I was excited to attend this program and read 3 out of the 5 books being honored to feed my YA obsession.
This year’s winner, Marcus Sedgwick for Midwinterblood, was the first to speak. He is a great speaker and I really liked his speech and personality. I found it interesting when he explained why most of his books are all dark in theme. He went on to explain that most parents don’t ever want their children to go through negative experiences. When something does happen that the parents can’t fix the teen may not know how to handle the situation. The stories he writes may be something teens can relate to when dealing with the dark side. While Midwinter Blood is mysterious, well written, and poetic, it wouldn’t have been my pick for the best out of the remaining books.
The next part of the program had all five authors sit on a panel and answer questions from teens and librarians. In addition to Marcus Sedgwick, Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park), Susann Cokal (Kingdom of Little Wounds), Sally Gardner (Maggot Moon), and Clare Vanderpool (Navigating Early) were all honored and took the stage. I wanted to hear from Susann Cokal and especially Rainbow Rowell, because I really enjoyed their books. Susann and Rainbow have quirky and unique personalities which I love along with their writing style and stories. Cokal’s Kingdom of Little Wounds is basically Game of Thrones for teens. It’s graphic and disturbing at times, but those elements add to the story rather than distract. Rowell’s Eleanor and Park is a coming of age story about an unlikely friendship during the 1980’s which is beautiful, tragic, and real. I would have selected either of these two as the winner.
During my free time I ate at some great places. Gordon Ramsey BurGR (Planet Hollywood), Spago (Caesar’s Palace), Hash House (The Quad), and The Buffet (Wynn) were the highlights. I highly recommend these places especially The Buffet at the Wynn. The brunch buffet was amazing and we spent 2 hours there to really enjoy the food. It’s the best buffet hands down.
Saturday and Sunday consisted of exhibition floor exploration and poster sessions. I was overwhelmed with the sheer size and the number of people attending. I was like a kid in a candy store when I found the book publisher section of the floor. There were so many books to peruse and investigate I could have spent all day in there. The poster sessions were filled with useful information and gave me great ideas to implement at my library and school library. I enjoyed attending the science fiction YA reading advisory session, how to connect teens with YouTube, and how to develop a partnership between schools and public libraries. The overall experience at ALA was fantastic and I loved being around so many passionate people in the same field. I will definitely be attending the 2015 conference because it will be in my backyard, San Francisco!