Over this past weekend, we had the honor of attending the Annual American Library Association Conference in Chicago, Illinois. ALAAC17 was a get together of librarians from all over the country (and in some cases the world) to come together and celebrate libraries, literacy, books, and information sciences. This week we are going to share with you the things that we saw, the things we did, and the books that we got that we are the most excited for.
Serena’s Top 3 Events from ALAAC 2017
As Kate said, this wasn’t our first rodeo at the massive library festival that is the ALA annual conference. In many ways, I feel like this fact allowed me to more fully enjoy this experience. If anything, knowing the ins and outs of things saved me a lot of time standing in lines when I knew better the tips and tricks for when to get where and how early. This was also my first trip to Chicago, and other than the nightmare traffic (thank God Kate was driving and handled all the challenges of massive city driving with aplomb), I very much enjoyed experiencing the culture the city had to offer. As Kate also mentioned, we went with largely the same group of library friends this time around. And, again, being the second go-around I think this opened up more pathways for everyone to pursue panels/speakers/author signings as they wished rather than needing to move in a massive, terrified-by-Vegas-and-the-crazy-convention-crowds group that we did before. I had a great time hanging out with all of my library friends at these various events! But, as I can’t highlight them all, here are my top three! (My phone takes awful pictures, so you’ll have to excuse the lack of photography for my post, unlike Kate’s!)
“Generation Gap: Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Look at Youth and Technology” Panel
So, I’ll be honest, the main reason I slotted this panel into my schedule was because I discovered that this would be the one and only place where V.E. Schwab would be signing copies of her books. But, that less-library-oriented-than-it-should-be reason for attendance aside, I was pleasantly surprised by the content of the panel itself and the variety of topics related to technology, libraries, and publishing that were covered. Open access, gaming, and publishing challenges with DRM (digital rights management) were all topics that were brought up and discussed, both from the perspective of the authors on the panel, and through comments by the librarians in attendance. Many of these questions didn’t have clear answers, which was part of what made this panel stand out in my mind. The authors on the panel were:
- Cory Doctorow, “Walkaway”
- Annalee Newitz, “Autonomous”
- V.E. Schwab, “A Conjuring of Light”
- Susan Dennard, “Windwitch”
“Problem Solving: Teaching STEM with Comics” Panel
On Friday, before the true madness began, there was a whole day of sessions targeted towards different subjects having to do with comics and graphic novels. While I went in mostly interested in a later panel that had to do with how graphic novels can be catalysts for change in society, looking back, this panel focusing on non-fiction graphic novels really stood out. I’m not a huge non-fiction reader myself, but coming from that perspective, I can see the huge potential for using graphic novels as a way to introduce non-fiction topics in a way that will appeal to readers who may feel intimidated by traditional non-fiction publishing. Specifically, it was noted how graphic novels allow authors to deep-dive into a very specific topic, but leave them free to not provide an entire history of other elements that may surround it, as many non-fiction biographies and histories are almost required to do. I unfortunately failed to take good notes this early in the conference, but “Audubon” and “Inconegro” and “The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation” were a few that were mentioned.
2017 Alex Awards Panel
Kate and I ended up at this one purely based on the unadulterated fun that we had at the Las Vegas conference when we got the sheer pleasure of hearing John Searles present (supposedly) about his book “Help for the Haunted.” What we got instead was, in his own words, “reckless gossip!” and it was amazing. So, while we knew that this previous experience was probably an outlier from what Alex Award panels are typically like, we knew we’d have to slot this one in anyways. There were shockingly few slide shows that involved Zumba instructors in giant Jack-o-lantern tank tops, but it was still quite interesting all the same. I hadn’t heard of many of the authors on the panel, and now have an even longer reading list due to this event. One common feature that became clear was the need for honesty in young adult literature. Teens aren’t looking for the harsh truths of life to be glossed over for them, and many of these authors’ works tackled serious topics in an upfront manner, presumably a trait that contributed to their winning this award. The authors on the panel were:
- Manuel Gonzales, “The Regional Office is Under Attack!”
- Rob Rufus, “Die Young with Me: A Memoir”
- Scott Stambach, “The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko”
- Sarah Beth Durst, “The Queen of Blood”
Next up, Kate’s top five books that she nabbed while at the conference!