Thursday, July 1, 2010

ALA Annual 2010 wrap-up

This felt different to me than any other ALA Annual I've been to, in large part because of Twitter. Whenever I felt hungry, tired, or alone, I'd turn to Twitter and within the hour, be surrounded by insta-friends, who were immediately willing to meet up (or in Twitter parlance, "tweet-up").

I really enjoyed reading other people's tweets for sessions that I wasn't able to make it to… and there were many. Even with Hermione's time-turner, I wouldn't have been able to make it to a fraction of the sessions that looked interesting. Each time slot had at least three panels that I wanted to go to, if not five, six or even seven! Reading others short, jagged twitter impressions of programs attended was nowhere near as good as actually being there myself of course, but it certainly did take a bit of the "sting" of not being able to be two or three places at once.

If it weren't for Twitter, I wouldn't have found this devastatingly accurate comparison of vendors vs. librarians. Ouch. Guilty as charged. Most of the librarians attending wore appropriate business casual clothing - embroidered A-line skirts, sweater sets, chunky beaded necklaces. But, there were just enough librarians in orthopedic shoes paired with cat-themed socks, OR purple-haired, pierced hipsters to lend truth to those stereotypes.

I had a carefully crafted schedule of events that I did not want to miss… but once I was there ended up abandoning most of my plans and just going with the flow. And I am so glad that I took the time to head down to the National Mall, and check out part of the Smithsonian. I made it to the pop-up books display, which was very tiny but still very worthwhile, and a display of Julia Child's kitchen.

Here's the view of the Washington Monument from the National Mall.

I did go to a panel about the future of book reviewing. That was an interesting session! I was dismayed to see how unenthusiastic the panelists who represented the mainstream media were about blogging. Essentially, they felt very threatened… that we'd put them out of a job. What a shame. I liked a great deal of what Reading Rant's Jennifer Hubert Swan had to say, but disagreed with her on a few points, and was a little worried to see her opinions being represented as typical of all of the blogosphere, instead of solely her own. Still, I suppose the format of the discussion forced that… because hopefully, Booklist moderator Keir Graff's opinions don't reflect all of those working in traditional print. I liked the Amazon and Goodreads panelists, Jon Fine and Otis Chandler, respectively, who both had smart things to say about using algorithms to weed out bogus reviews. Overall, a great session and very thought-provoking.

I had been planning to see Toni Morrison speak, but walking on the way there, I popped in for LITA's presentation of science fiction writers, including Cory Doctorow, of One of the things that Doctorow said was that his way of "appearing" to be cutting edge, was to find a news story that interested him… and then write about it as if it was happening in the future. By the time his book was published, people would have forgotten the original article and would credit him for having "predicted" it. Cherie Priest gave a great talk about steampunk, including the hilarious quote, "Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown." Brandon Sanderson spoke about how our culture is addicted to "the real" - lightly touching on the idea of the snobbishness with which readers of adult fiction look upon readers of sci-fi and fantasy. He talked about how reading Toni Morrison's excellent novel, Beloved, might only reinforce the concept of people of color as "other". Reading fantasy however, where different races got along just fine, allows one to imagine a world that is more truly egalitarian. Also, "with dragons!" and "in space!" is just more fun. Interesting stuff!


  1. Thanks to that link about vendors vs. librarians! Also, vendors tend to have better hair (although I saw some VERY cute cuts this year - and of course ANYone's hair is more stylish than mine).
    That SF panel sounds great. Drat it, I'm cloning myself next year...

  2. Yeah, I can only aspire to look as slender and well put together as some of those publicists.



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