NOLA/ALA, part 2

My conference experience started with a crash and a blister on Friday morning at Libraries Build Communities. Approximately 200 librarians volunteered in libraries and communities through the New Orleans region Friday morning, and I was one of 9 at a house in St. Bernard’s Parish. We, along with a representative from St. Bernard Project, walked into a house that had no insulation or dry wall (pros came in and cleared it out), but was caked in dust, dirt, loose nails, and even a syringe. We removed removed trash/large objects from the interior, loose nails, painted the front exterior, swept, weed-wacked the front lawn, and pulled up plants/weeds and leveled the back yard. In five hours we took a house that had been hit by a hurricane and turned it into a real work in progress. A few pictures:

The first shot was taken after a bit of yard work. The second…so this furniture basically hasn’t been touched since August 2005. We found pictures and letters that put into reality the fact that this family hadn’t lived in their own home in nearly six years. The SBP rep gently reminded us that many families haven’t been able to rebuild for numerous reasons such as contractors stole their money (happened more than anyone knows), insurance money not coming through (6 months before Katrina the Army Corps of Engineers claimed the region was no longer in danger of a flood, so flood insurance was removed from thousands of homeowner policies unbeknowest to the owners), and poverty (for some homeowners, their homes were the only thing they had). So seeing such personal treasures as family photos and love letters was jarring, and reminded us why we were busting our asses on our ‘vacation’.

Friday night the exhibits opened and Katie and I walked away with out a dozen books each (and we were being selective, I swear!). By then our third roommate, librarian and blogger/reviewer Sondy, had joined us.

The Saturday sessions I chose to attend were a bit dull/not as applicable as I suspected they would be, so I experienced the exhibits. That night we went to Desire Cafe for dinner where I had fried green tomatoes! (My mom’s are better…just sayin’.)

Sunday was much better! The YALSA Strategic Planning meeting was a huge success, as it gave me some ideas on what I can do professionally. I’ll blog about this at a later time. Afterwards, I reviewed resumes with some librarians looking for new jobs, got Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler’s newest The Future of Us (read my review here…not good, y’all), and enjoyed another dinner at Acme Oyster House with Katie and four academic librarians from Canada that we met in line! Katie convinced them that the line was worth standing in, and after the meal, they agreed!

Monday was, by far, my most favorite day of the conference. I facilitated a YALSA speed-networking ground where I met some very nice, excited YA librarians as well as the new President of YALSA, Sarah Flowers. After that was the YALSA Membership Meeting and President’s Program. Please read about that experience here on the YALSA blog post I put up yesterday.

Monday evening was the Printz Award Ceremony and reception. Each author was funny and moving in their own way, but my favorite line of the night was winner Paulo Bacigalupi screaming, “I won a fucking Printz Award!” I met him later in the evening; here is a blurry photo of the moment:

The weekend was an absolute dream. I met great people (authors, librarians, YALSA members, strangers in restaurants/on the street, exhibitors, etc.) and feel like it was money well spent. People asked me if my library sponsored my trip and they did not (I’ve been at LCPL for <1 month), but even if they never do, I’ll continue to pay my own way. Conferences such as this do so much for me; knowing that there are others out there who are enthusiastic as I am, who love serving the public, that the money spent is of no matter to me.

It’s not all about libraries, though. I walked away with nearly 50 books (some purchased, but mostly galleys/ARCs). Only some of my finds:

What was YOUR favorite ALA experience? What would you do differently next time?

2 Thoughts

  1. As you said, the conference was worth attending, paid for or not (my trip was paid out of my pocket too)! I also networked and met many interesting people, shipped home three boxes of free books, and at the same time, experienced NOLA (which is still in a sad state of affairs).

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