Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thoughts: Post-ALA

Back from another ALA, one that had a nostalgic feeling for me.  There's a lot of reasons for that: there was the celebrating for the 2011 Printz, which came with moments I had been waiting for since May of 2009, when I was elected to the 2011 Printz committee.  There's also knowing that this ALA marks a transition for me.  I'm not on any committees right now, and my plans for the next year are to serve on a process committee, which are primarily virtual right now.  But after getting to serve on the Printz, I think it's time to give back to YALSA by being on a less-"glamorous" process committee.

But what was this conference like, you're wondering?

--I got a chance to attend some great programs, giving me some ideas for improving teen services at my library.  In addition, many of these ideas can be expanded to other areas, which is great.  For example, Renee McGrath at Nassau Library showed off a mobile website that looks like an app--something I've already shown to people here at my library.  And I definitely want to start using QR codes on my program publicity and to promote the library's online resources. 

--I am a bit concerned with YALSA's insistence on being all things Apple.  I can understand that Apple's products have a very high cool factor--teens want iDevices.  However, they're not the only option.  And in cases where there are legitimate alternatives, I think that we should have balance by hearing about all the options.  Given that Android is gobbling up a larger and larger market share with each month, it just seems short-sighted to focus only on today's hot product and not tomorrow's, too.

--Another matter for concern was Penguin's ARC distribution methods.  Instead of having ARCs available throughout the conference, they only gave out ARCs during very short windows--in most cases, one hour.  These were usually timed with when an author was signing.  But there's two problems with this: in many cases, I don't really want a signed ARC; I just want the ARC.  Beyond that, though, is the fact that anyone who had committments they couldn't break--committee meetings, meals, etc.--then you were out of luck.  Given that many people come to ALA to do work, not just to get ARCs, this seems like a real disservice to me.  Add in the fact that I can count on three fingers the number of times a publisher has sent me an ARC after the conference when they ran out, and I really hope that this idea is seen as the bad PR that it is.  I know it's not a right to get ARCs, but I don't understand why Penguin would make it harder for themselves in this way.  I don't think it's a coincidence that three boxes of Crossed ARCs went missing during the conference.

--In happier topics, the Printz reception was amazing.  All the speeches were just funny and touching and thoughtful, in different ways.  Lucy Christopher talked about how Stolen came from her experiences as an immigrant to Australia.  A.S. (Amy) King gave a moving speech about how her mother's illness when Amy was fifteen, inspired Please Ignore Vera Dietz.  Marcus Sedgwick made a funny, extemparaneous talk about how his research factored into Revolver.  Janne Teller gave three speeches in one to discuss how Nothing came to be published, and how writing for young adults taught her more than she ever thought.  And Paolo Bacigalupi made a call-to-arms, saying that the world he created in Ship Breaker is what we are creating now, and that it was up to us and to teenagers to prevent that from happening. 

--I couldn't help but be incredibly proud of the Printz committee for the hard work that went into these selections.  Two of our members couldn't be with us in New Orleans, which saddened us all.  Yet we had a glorious celebration of just how good young adult literature is, and I feel very honored to have been a part of this.  Being on the Printz committee is a highlight of not just my career, but of my personal life as well.

Those of you who went to ALA, I hope you had a good time as well!  And here's hoping we'll see each other again at another conference.  If you're interested to know what ARCs I managed to pick up, check in next week to see my ARC haul post.


bibliophile brouhaha said...

Really enjoyed reading your roundup. Gave a lot of information about what went on there - I will post a link to it on my blog tomorrow. Thanks!


Drea said...

I agree that the Penguin schedule made it hard to get ARCs, however, talking with them I understand why they did it. They're trying to put an accountability on people and stop the "grab 3 at once" that happens. I don't think they've perfected it yet, but I do appreciate them trying.

Melissa Rabey said...

Linds--I'm glad you enjoyed my thoughts!

Drea--I can totally appreciate wanting to stop the "galley grab" mentality. It actually disgusts me a little, the way people just descend upon the ARCs and grab extras without any thought to others. But I definitely agree that Penguin hasn't quite figured out the best way of doing it yet. Perhaps a twist on Little, Brown's setup, where you select which ARCs you want and then come back later to turn in your sheet.

Drea said...

Melissa- I agree the LB setup may work better---or maybe even scanning? I'm not sure if there's a perfect solution, but I hope there's one that will work for all

Jan said...

Melissa, I couldn't agree more that serving on the 2011 Michael Printz Award was a highlight of our careers. I will never forget it and I so enjoyed getting to know all my committee members. This is an experience that I would recommend to any librarian passionate about young adult literature. Jan Chapman

susan259 said...

I too thought the Penguin method was flawed, although when I returned to their booth on Monday, I did get a copy of The Future of Us...