ALA is the American Library Association, and their Midwinter Meeting is what it sounds like. It’s like a conference with more committee meetings. This year’s was in Denver, sharing the Colorado Convention Center with a sportsmen’s exhibition. For the most part you could tell who was attached to which conference by whether they had books under their arm or camoflouge-patterned pants and orange reflective tape on their jackets (a combination which I’ve seen and wondered at. Do you want to be seen or not?)
My first sight of the library meeting was humbling. Once out on the airport hangar sized exhibit floor, I had an idea of how very many books there are in the world for young people, and all of them striving to catch the eye of readers, teachers, and librarians, jostling and elbowing one another as they shout “pick me! pick me!” It’s not for the fainthearted.
Random House’s exhibit was practically a small airport hangar of its own, in fact. You could fit a Piper or Cessna in there, easy, if it weren’t for all the books. The people behind the displays were terrific, though, and capably led me and five other debut authors at Random House through a _________* of librarians.
Even if the six of us authors were alone, the competition would be worrisome — pint-sized cowboys, literal cow-girls, private school detectives, runaways, and cute dinosaur-like animals are among the things competing with baseball for the attention of young readers this spring. Here are the _________** of new authors attending the event.
After a nice dinner in which I learned that approximately 50% of the people in the publishing industry long to be detectives and inventors, I had a surprise encounter with my book, the real deal hardcover copy of Mudville
I had my own copies waiting for me when I got home, and have been carrying one around all day hoping people will ask me what I’m reading.
I woke up early yesterday see the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards, which are like the Oscars of Kid’s Books. Neil Gaiman won a Newbery, giving his struggling career a much needed jolt 😉 and I was impressed in general by the warmth, love, and enthusiasm a big room full of people bestowed upon the best writers and illustrators of the year.
I then went home, first stopping by the sportsmen’s exhibit to buy my wife a spool of reflective tape and some eye black.
*Where you see the blank, I imagine there is an appropriate collective noun, like “pride” for lions or “romp” for otters, but I’m not quite sure what you call such an assembly of librarians, and encourage my readers to make suggestions below.
**Same thing for debut authors.