ALA Midwinter Meeting 2014

While my alarm went off this morning at 6:00am, I had actually been awake for a few minutes, convinced that I'd overslept and I'd missed the morning's festivities. These moments of horror had been occurring roughly once an hour since I had fallen asleep around six hours earlier. What could have caused this restless sleep? For those of you book professionals out there, you know exactly what I am talking about: The Youth Media Awards. For those of you unfamiliar with the librarian/bookseller/publishing world, I'll give you an idea. The YMAs are essentially the Academy Awards for books, and I was determined to get a front row seat.

 This morning's presentation of the best children's books of the year was only a small part of the amazing weekend that was the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference. As a first time midwinter attendee, I was expecting the chaos of the annual meetings. What I didn't expect was a perfect storm of exhibits, panels, committee meetings, and conference attendees.

I floated from booth to panel, panel to buzz, buzz to committee and back again seamlessly, armed with my smartphone (permanently on twitter (#alamw14)), my notebook and pen, and several tote bags in constant states of ARC carrying. When I wasn't listening to amazing writers, librarians, or publishers wax poetic about their careers, recently published books, or the brilliance of libraries, I was greeting familiar faces from recent Book Fests and Kid Lit Drinks Nights, as well as making new friends and contacts. The world of librarians is warm and welcoming, and it was such a pleasure to experience this first hand. And, for every in-person meeting, there were several new twitter friends pinging me and each other with event information, fan gushes, and even plans for lunch. I was surrounded by more than 12,000 kindred spirits, and I was on a constant high for the entire conference.

Besides meeting incredible people (both online and off), the highlights of the weekend (besides the YMAs) were as follows:

  • The Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) committee meetings. Namely, being able to listen to local teens tout their favorite titles and complain about their not-so-favorite. Also amazing, was when I got to speak my piece to the committee about two of the nominees that I've read.
  • YALSA's happy hour where I got no fewer than 4 high-fives when I mentioned that I've written Harry Potter slash fiction.
  • Meeting Printz Honor author, Rainbow Rowell, and this subsequent chat on Twitter:
  •  Hearing Andrew Slack speak about EVERYTHING I LOVE and making me realize yet again, how incredibly lucky I am to be a part of the Harry Potter fandom, and have an amazing fandom family that has helped me become the person I am today. 
All that, plus the Reading Terminal Market, a whole bunch of new books to read (my bag broke under the weight), and new friends to talk to, and I am thoroughly exhausted, wonderfully content, and filled with excitement about the year of books, people, and events to come. 

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