I have learned a few things since my first PLA conference, but really the most important thing is this: Pack comfortable shoes. Don’t even pack uncomfortable shoes that will tempt you. Go ahead and look like a librarian and pack your comfy shoes. I did it this time, and for the first time EVER, my feet did not hurt me.
That is the first of many random observations.
*The first thing we did is exactly what we said we wouldn’t do–we walked all over creation. But along the way we saw the Liberty Bell and Benjamin Franklin’s grave, so it was worth it. Did I mention the conference was in Philadelphia?
*Nancy Pearl is amazing. At the end of her always great Book Buzz program, someone from the audience asked the panel of publishers what book they had read recently that was from another publisher that they liked. The last one named an older title, something with Parnassus in the title, and Nancy Pearl exclaims, “That book has one of my favorite lines in it!” She then recaps the book, and then quotes the line she liked. I read books for a living, and I write reviews of them, and I could not do what she did to save my life. She has both taste and memory. BTW Amazon is coming out with a new line of Nancy Pearl books that are all books she loved that went out of print.
*The publishers all looked very sheepish when the question of e-book lending through libraries came up. They should. I understand that they want people to buy their books, but what is the point of sitting through Book Buzz if at the end of it, we can’t buy the books for our patrons? If they don’t figure out a way to work with librarians so we can do our thing and work to get their books in the hands of our patrons, I can’t see the relationship continuing on in such a cozy fashion.
*Robert Kennedy Junior gave the keynote speech, which was very interesting and yet gave the audience the distinct impression that he had no idea he was talking to a group of librarians. It was at the moment that he was raving about this great service called ChaCha, and how fantastic it was because, you can ask them any question, and they will answer it “for free!” and you could practically see the whole audience collectively tilt their heads and stare at him. Very weird. Some were offended–I was more bemused. The environmental info was interesting, at least.
*The sessions, as usual, were informative and practical. Sometimes it’s hard to choose which one to go to because so many of them sound good. Whether it was on management, early literacy, reaching out to diverse communities, or the great 60 Programs in 60 Minutes, I came away with some fun possibilities I can put to use at my library. And that is why it is so worth it for libraries to send their staff members to PLA.
*These days, one of the most fun things about going to conference is meeting up with people you have only talked with online, and getting to see old friends who have moved away. What a treat!
*The Audio Publishers Dinner featured some hilarious speeches by Karin Slaughter, Carl Hiaasen, and Lisa Scottoline. One of the audiobook actors also spoke and was a bit dotty but funny, too.
*Last but not least was Betty White. Frankly, I had no idea what to expect. She is 90 years old, after all. She would be perfectly entitled to be a little dotty like the audiobook reader above. But instead she was sharp, engaging, and definitely knew who her audience was. There was no collective moment of “Huh?” here–just a whole lot of laughing and love for her self-deprecating humor and her appreciation of writing. It’s not everyone who can recount stories of her friend John Steinbeck and give you tips on how elephants like to be greeted, but Betty White can. It was a great end to a great conference.
PLA 2014–my hometown, Indianapolis!