Looking Back at the ALA Mid-Winter Conference

My Badge
My Badge

I spent 4 days at the mid-winter conference for the American Library Association.  It was easy to go this year as it was right in my city: Boston.  I thought it would be easy and fun to be able to go home each night.  I mean, I only live 30 minutes away.  Little did I know… not so much.

To be fair, it was an amazing conference.  It was, for a variety of reasons I can’t really get into, very difficult for me.  While the big conference in June was so positive and fulfilling, this one was a bit of a smack in the face from reality.  I am not going to focus on those moments.  This is not the space for that.  Instead, I am going to talk about the books.

Oh, the books!  I got far more than I have every done at any other conference.  So, with Book Expo (the publisher’s conference) I am forced to limit myself to the books I can ship home in 1 box.  Maybe a few get packed in the suitcase, but I can only carry so many.  I week my selections as I go based on this.  At ALA in San Francisco I had similar limitations and did the same.  The need to ship books home or carry them with you makes a huge difference in selections.


Since I drove into Boston each day, I had the wonderful ability to put the books in my car and not be forced to carry them around. I was good about limiting myself to 1 or 2 bags of books at any time, but I would go to the car at least 2 times during the day to drop off books.  It made me less selective about what I picked up.  I had only 1 book I wanted to pick up: Paper by Mark Kurlansky (he wrote Salt and Cod).  That was my plan.  Everything else would be serendipity.

The Expo floor was split with two distinct collections of booths.  One side was virtually all publishers and the other all vendors of library tools.  I needed to be on one side and wanted to be on the other so I did both.  Since most of the big publishers were there, it was easy to walk through the large booth set up and grab free ARC copies.

Then there were the Buzz sessions.  This was where each publisher just went through their upcoming releases and gave away copies of some.  I went to a few when I realized that not only were they giving away books, but most had a free meal attached.  The best one had a full breakfast, complete with mimosas.  I was sit on the room and make notes about the books they talked about.  Which did I want to read?  Which did I want to cover here?  Which could be a good book to give as a gift?  Which would be perfect for a specific friend?  Which did I want to get and then maybe give away here?  I have all these notes and more books that I realized I took.

I took very few duplicates.  I managed to get duplicate copies of certain books- ones I sought a second copy of.

So, what did I get that you may find interesting?  A LOT!

There was more than these, but these are the ones I am holding on to right now.  My real life book club gets first dibs on the other books I brought home.  That is, aside from the ones already selected for other people.



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