ALA Annual – San Francisco – Day One

After a “rough” start – meaning no start – yesterday, today was a much better experience!

Arrived just before the exhibits opening and walked through the ALA Store. This was the first time in my experience that the store was outside the actual exhibit hall area – and it was already open! Saw a few interesting items and will stop back on Monday to see if they are still there before I leave to purchase them!

Since I only purchased an exhibits pass, naturally, all I did today was roam the exhibit hall and get author signatures and pick up a few books and promotional items. I was VERY selective in what I would pick up! Only YA titles and/or books by my favorite authors. For the most part I stuck to my guns and ended up only mailing back one “medium” box today and filling half my bag again! Tomorrow I plan to be just as diligent! However, since I’ve been invited to attend a sneak peak tomorrow morning of Libraries Unlimited’s forthcoming School Library Connection, I’m not going to have as much time to spend in the exhibits! Kathy Sutusky has graciously agreed to get a few of my “must have” author signatures on my bag for me (and pick up their books if she can) while I’m in the meeting.

My Bag:

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Signatures on my bag in order (front to back): Jayne Ann Krentz; Gabrielle Prendergast; Melody Anne; Jennifer Ryan; Neal Shusterman; Allen Stratton; Laura Ruby; Kelley Armstrong; Joey Pigza aka Rotten Ralph aka Jack Gantos; Megan McDonald; and Gail Giles

The highlights of my day were the first and last signatures I obtained: Jayne Ann Krentz (one of my favorite romance authors) and Gail Giles (my absolutely favorite and best go to YA authors for reluctant readers!) In fact, I waited over two hours just to meet Gail Giles and get her signature. I was first in the booth for her signing and when she arrived I adminted to her I was stalking her and told her my story. I explained that her book “Shattering Glass” has been the “go to” book for me for the past 13 years. I simply hand them the book and say read the first paragraph and you wont give it back. I’ve only had one student ever hand me the book back and I think he only did it ’cause I said no one does!

And of course, Jack Gantos was a hoot! First one to have fun and take liberties when filling in my bag/date dues and using his alter egos and doodling! Loved it!

I capped off the day with a South Carolina librarians meet up at the Thirsty Bear and dinner at Fang with my SCASL peeps! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

ALA You Done Me Wrong

This post is a rant, so I warn my readers now. I know you’re not supposed to write something when your angry, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

Background: I’m a member of ALA ($135); AASL ($50); and YALSA ($60) and have been for the past 13+ years. For the past few – intermittent – years I’ve attended ALA Annual (Orlando, Chicago, Anaheim, New Orleans) and I’ve paid full registration ($255 early bird rate). I’ve not really seen the benefit of full conference attendance as at sessions there have not been enough geared toward school library and/or technology to my satisfaction. Therefore, based on feedback from others who have gotten exhibits only passes and have attended with me at those above mentioned conferences, I purchased an exhibits only pass to ALA Annual for San Francisco. I have always enjoyed the exhibits and the activities there (Pop Top Stage, Graphic Novel Stage, Book Buzz Theater) and author signings (and free books) and of course the Exhibits Grand Opening.

So imagine my surprise when I get there before the opening tonight and am told by one of the “workers” that because my badge says Exhibits Only that I’m not allowed in tonight!! What! I paid for exhibits and cannot attend during exhibit hours??? WTH?

I go to the Information Booth and the lady tells us (I’m with a retired librarian who attended last year on an Exhibits Only badge and got in on Friday) that, nope, we cannot get in. Our badge isn’t good for tonight, it doesn’t start until tomorrow. That tonight is only for members (what – we are members) due to the food being served. WTH? I already ate dinner and I don’t go to the opening for the food — I go for the vendors and the books/authors/great stuff! She then said if we have a complaint, take it up with the membership booth upstairs. So we do.

We get to the membership booth and are told we weren’t the first to say this, but she can’t help us, we need to go to the Special Services booth. So we do. There the girl says she’s only been hired for the weekend and all of the on-site registration material says that Exhibits Only is for Sat-Mon entrance only. If we want to lodge a complaint or speak to someone she’d have to get her “supervisor”. She then brought over an on-site staff member. This person, who I assume works for ALA, states that the online registration states the new policy and that it was changed last year (which if it was, they fell down on the job as my colleague got in with an EO pass on Friday) and that there was nothing she could do. If we wanted to take if further we could go to the ALA on-site office and speak to someone there. By now we know they weren’t gonna do anything but give us the brush off — so we just left.

Oh, maybe I should also mention that the person behind us in line also had on an EO badge and when I said ‘Guess you’re here for the same reason’ she said ‘maybe’, and when I explained why we were she said ‘no that isn’t why I am in line. But I’ll be sure to ask because when I registered today I was told I could go into the exhibits tonight!!!’

So, we come to now. I check the ALA website and it does say on the registration rates page that Exhibits Only Badge is for Sat-Mon. However, I never saw this fine print since I didn’t read this page. I just clicked on “register now” – and I can’t see what it says under register now since I”m already registered. I know I never saw any restrictions there! I do know that the confirmation email I received does NOT state anywhere that my EO pass is only for Sat-Mon. The confirmation email shows ALL of the exhibit hall hours of operations with no restrictions to full attendees vs. exhibits only attendees.

So ALA, You Done Me Wrong! If you have an issue with an EO pass, you shouldn’t sell one. If you’re gonna place restrictions on it you should be sure to indicate those restrictions ON THE FREAKING BADGES!!!! And on the email confirmations you send to those registered. Please don’t spring it on folks who have expectations of getting into exhibits using an exhibits badge during exhibit hours when they show up on Friday’s Grand Opening! Especially when traditionally we’ve been able to attend this event.

I’m just saying. I’m not too happy with you right now. Not a great way to start off my conference experience. And I was having such a great time in San Francisco up until now.

2015 SC Book Award Winners

Each year the highlight of conference is attending the Author Luncheon and learning who has received this year’s Book Award winning titles.  Of course this is after hearing the great acceptance speeches for last years recipients and the invited authors!  This year we had the pleasure of hearing Sara Pennypacker and Sharon Flake!!

Before getting to the announcement, it should be noted that this year 591 SC schools participated with 59,154 students voting!

Breakdown:

  • Picture Book Award: 45,410 students
  • Children’s Book Award: 7,508 students
  • Junior Book Award: 5,056 students
  • Young Adult Book Award: 1,180 students

And the winners are (graphic curtesy of @KnightReaderSC):

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I had the honor of being one of the 1st to tweet out the results:

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You can imagine my “squee” moment when I got these responding tweets from  and :

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My life is complete! =)

Oh, BTW, Alice in Zombieland was the winning title at Wagener-Salley, too!  So for once, WSHS accurately predicted the winner!!