Sunday, June 17, 2012

ALA Annual 2012: What I'm Attending (And You Should, Too!)

anaheim convention center ala 2008
ALA in Anaheim, 2008. Photo by Timothy Vollmer
With ALA Annual Conference right around the corner, I am SO BUSY right now! As chair of YALSA's Conference Marketing and Local Arrangements Committee, I've been working on conference-related matters all year long, and am so excited that the big event is almost here.

I was interviewed on the latest episode of the YALSA podcast about things to see and do (and eat!) in Orange County, so if you're traveling from out of town to attend, be sure to listen. It's more than just Disneyland! 

Blogging is definitely on the back burner at the moment, but since I posted about conference events I'll (sadly) have to miss, I wanted to pop in to talk about a few of the sessions and events I will be attending at ALA.

If you're looking blankly at all of the amazing events in the ALA Conference Scheduler and wondering where to start, I contributed to this School Library Journal article alongside six other librarians, sharing what we're looking forward to at the conference. But what did I not mention in the article? Here's a selection of what else I'll be attending... 

Friday, June 22, 3 - 4 pm
If you're a new member of YALSA, or are thinking about joining, this is the session for you! According to the official description, it's a "mixer-style orientation, where you can get an overview of the division, its activities and what YALSA has to offer you."

Saturday, June 23, 12:30 - 1 pm
Asian Americans, Air Benders, and Comics
As a fan of the animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, I can't miss this presentation by Gene Luen Yang, who writes the series continuation comics published by Dark Horse. I had the opportunity to speak with Gene via Skype when we interviewed him for the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast, and I look forward to saying hi in person. He's awesome, and this topic sounds fascinating.

Saturday June 23, 5 - 7 pm
YALSA Happy Hour
An informal networking opportunity for YALSA members and those interested in joining YALSA. If you're a YA librarian or YA enthusiast, you should be there.

Saturday,  June 23, 8 pm
The Great YA Blogger Meetup
A fabulous way to continue the YA lit networking and festivities into the evening!

Sunday, June 24, 9 - 10 am
YA Author Coffee Klatch
One of the most memorable conference events for YA lit fans-- like speed dating with authors. Plus, breakfast! What a great way to start the day. Attendees get to meet authors up close and personal as they rotate tables and discuss their work. (Ticketed event, $25)
Sunday, June 24, 6 - 11 pm
The Newbery Caldecott Banquet
Like the Oscars for youth literature! This celebratory evening is definitely one of the highlights of the conference. I can't wait to hear the speeches by this year's Newbery medalist, Jack Gantos, and Caldecott medalist, Chris Raschka. (Ticketed event, $94)

Monday, June 24, 2:45 - 3:30 pm
Conversation Starters: Style and Stereotypes: Perceptions of Librarians
There's something to be said for the old adage, "It's what's inside that counts," but I believe the outside counts too. That is, it's important to be conscious of how we present ourselves to the world as librarians, as professionals. This panel session on perceptions of librarian style from the folks at should be a fascinating discussion.

Monday, June 25, 8 - 10 pm
The Michael L. Printz Award Program and Reception
The Printz Award is given to the best book written for teens each year. This year's winner, John Corey Whaley (Where Things Come Back), also won the Morris Award for best debut novel. I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say! We'll also hear from Printz honor winners Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket!), Maggie Stiefvater, Christine Hinwood, and Craig Silvey. (Ticketed event, $34)

Just under a week until the conference... I hope to see you in Anaheim!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Armchair BEA: Blogging Tips

The final Armchair BEA topic calls for participants to impart their best blogging tips.

I've only been blogging for a year and a half, so I'm not an expert-- but I do feel I've evolved a bit as a blogger since I published my first post in January 2011.
Here's the main thing I've realized: just because you're a book blogger doesn't mean you have to post book reviews all the time. 

When I began blogging, book reviews made up about 98% of my blog's content. And that's fine, by the way. If writing book reviews is your focus and your true passion, then do just that! I like writing book reviews, but after a while, I wanted to branch out more. And that's the beauty of a blog-- it's 100% yours, and you can do whatever you want with it. Ultimately, you're not answering to anyone but yourself.

I started having a lot more fun with my blog once I decided to post more varied content. Alongside book reviews, I like to mix in booklists, genre discussion, book cover analysis, and posts about my work as a librarian. I don't feel like I have to review everything I read, but I'm still writing about books and engaging with other book lovers. I feel I've found the right balance that works for me.

Now here's a picture of an adorable corgi, because the other thing I've realized about blogging is that people like posts with pictures:

Sadly, not my corgi! Photo by anko.gaku_ula.

Thanks to everyone who has visited my blog during Armchair BEA!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Armchair BEA: Networking in Real Life

Today's Armchair BEA topic is all about how book bloggers take the leap beyond virtual networking to make connections with authors, bookstores, and other book bloggers in real life.

As a librarian, I'm fortunate to have real-life book experiences quite often, such as hosting author events with my library or going to conferences. As co-host of the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast, I interview authors and do event coverage for book signings. One of the best parts of all of this is meeting other people who love reading just as much as I do. I always feel revitalized after making connections with authors, other librarians, and fellow book lovers.

The Authors are ROCKSTARS! gals with one of our author idols, MEG CABOT
at the Passion and Prose conference earlier this year

For bloggers looking to get in on the fun, I have the following advice...

  • Make friends with your librarian or independent bookseller. Let them know you're a blogger, let them know what you read. Attend the events they host. When I get to know my regular patrons who love YA, I find myself taking note when I order books I think they'll enjoy, so I can tell them next time I see them. I set aside ARCs for them if I think they might be interested. I ask for and appreciate their input on authors to invite to speak at my library.
  • Attend as many author events as you can. Not only will you get to meet authors you love, but fellow readers, too! In my experience, there are always a few book bloggers in the crowd at every book signing. Don't be shy in the signing line-- strike up a conversation with the people next to you.
  • Attend conferences. BEA, ALA, NCTE, Kidlitcon... if they're in your area, don't miss out. BEA, ALA, and NCTE are large professional conferences, but people outside of publishing, libraries, and education may enjoy them as well. Kidlitcon is perhaps the most effective conference for blogger networking-- it's a smaller in scale, and is a great combination of authors, bloggers, and book lovers in general, with lots of opportunities for making personal connections. Read my Kidlitcon conference recap from last year, and mark your calendar for September 21 - 22 in New York this year. Also, if you'll be at ALA in Anaheim later this month, there's a YA blogger meetup happening.  Hopefully I'll see you there!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA: Self-introduction

Book Expo America, a huge publishing event, is happening in New York this week. Many of us who can't be there are participating in Armchair BEA, a week-long virtual book blogging event that provides a little of the BEA fun for those living vicariously. I felt a renewed sense of community and energy for blogging when I participated in last year's Armchair BEA, and I'm excited to take part again. All this week, I'll be sharing themed posts and trying my best to visit other book blogs.

The Armchair BEA folks have asked us all to kick things off by doing a self-introduction, and provided some great questions to get the ball rolling. So without further ado, here's a little about me...

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

If you're visiting my blog for the first time, thanks for stopping by!  I'm Allison, a teen services librarian in Southern California. I'm also a wife, and the mother of a 3.5 and 1.5 year old. 

I'm active in the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association. I'm currently the chair of YALSA's Conference Marketing and Local Arrangements Committee and I've just started blogging for The Hub, YALSA's YA literature blog.

I also review books and apps for School Library Journal, and I co-host Authors are ROCKSTARS!, a YA literature podcast focused on author interviews.

I've been blogging for about a year and a half. I got into it because I thought it would be a casual, fun extension of my professional life-- I am passionate about youth literature, and love connecting readers with the right book. Why not blog about it?

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

At the moment, I'm finishing up Moonglass, by Jessi Kirby. Her writing is so gorgeous, I want to live in it. And I can never, ever choose just one favorite book. I can try to narrow it down, but that's as far as I can go! My top three of 2012 so far:

Oh, but how could I not mention The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis?? See..? Can't possibly choose just one.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

During last year's Armchair BEA, I was interviewed by the lovely Leah at Amused by Books, and I mentioned one non-book-related thing I was really hoping to do was take ballet classes. I've taken ballet on and off over the years, and thought it would be ultimate accomplishment to get back into it after having two kids. Not that I'm particularly good at ballet, mind you-- but I just love it. And I felt that taking ballet classes again would be like a sign that I have my life totally together.

Well, I'm not sure if I have my life totally together, but I am proud to say that I've been taking ballet since January! So I must be doing all right. I'm definitely having fun, in any case!

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?

5 Ways Libraries Can Be Like Nordstrom

As a librarian who works extensively with the public, excellent service is very, very important to me. When I'm outside the library, I value being the recipient of good customer service, and Nordstrom is store that consistently provides me with positive experiences. I think libraries can emulate Nordstrom-style service to provide a welcoming atmosphere for our patrons. So I blogged about it!

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

Betsy's Hill Street house
Betsy's house
Photo © bonnyglen, aka author Melissa Wiley

The Betsy-Tacy houses in Mankato, Minnesota! I've been fortunate enough to make pilgrimages to Green Gables and Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, but I have yet to see the real life "Deep Valley" of Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy series, which are among my favorite books in the world.

There's a Betsy-Tacy Convention in Mankato this summer, which would be great opportunity to finally see the houses. Alas, I won't be able to make it... but it's sure to be amazing!

Thanks so much for reading my self-introduction. I'm looking forward to getting to know more of you in the book blogging community this week!

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