With the annual American Libraries Association (ALA) Midwinter conference on the horizon (January 20–24th in Dallas), many first-time attendees are curious about what they should see and do while attending. ALA Midwinter is a quieter, more businessy conference than Annual (held in the summer) and therefore can be a little intimidating. But never fear, newbees. Pull up a chair. This seasoned veteran of (count it) one Midwinter conference is going to dispense some wisdom. Sadly, this is as close as I’ll get to Midwinter this year because I won’t be attending the 2012 conference. If we live through the Mayan apocalypse there’s always Seattle in 2013…
- Acquaint yourself with the On-line Scheduler for it shall be your guide. While it’s fun to just browse, you might try searching for programs being put on by the divisions (i.e. Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)) you belong to or a topic of interest. Pay very close attention to whether a session is closed to the public or not (indicated by CLOSED after the session title). It’d be very embarrassing to burst in on the final Caldecott deliberations.
- While it’s always a good idea to attend your official division committee meetings, don’t discount any social events your division is hosting. I met a lot of interesting people at the ALSC Speed Networking event last year (it wasn’t as scary as it sounds, I promise) and won a free on-line class in the raffle.* Can’t beat that. I’m sorry to inform you that the Dallas version appears to have been cancelled. But I’m sure there are other similar and also awesome opportunities. Seek them out.
- UPDATE: I received an e-mail with information about these New Members Round Table (NMRT) events on Saturday, January 21 :
- Looking for a new job or hoping to switch careers? Take advantage of the ALA JobList Placement Center. It’s the place to get career advice, have your resume reviewed, attend a career focused discussion group, and potentially meet a future employer.
- If your job entails collection development or you’re a fan of Betsy Bird’s Librarian Preview posts and Early Word, you might consider seeking out publisher presentations. It’s a great way to get the scoop on new books from your favorite houses. As a bonus, you’ll probably be gifted a few Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to enjoy and share with your patrons. Unfortunately, many of these presentations are invite only. Your circumstances will determine if that’s a possibility for you. However, there are a few publisher presentations (e.g. Random House, Harper Collins) open to everyone attending the conference. Below is a schedule for some others (courtesy ALA):
Saturday, January 21, Dallas Convention Center – Ballroom C1
- 8:00am – 9:00am – Amulet Books, and imprint of ABRAMS
Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, Celebrates Spring 2012 with special guest Lauren Myracle, author of Shine, Margi Preus, author of 2011 Newbery Honor winner Heart of a Samurai, and Michael Buckley, bestselling author of The Sisters Grimm and NERDS series.
- 11:00am – 12:00pm – Sterling
Chris Vaccari, Director, Library Marketing will talk about the best and brightest books from Sterling’s Spring 2012 Adult, Children’s and Teen lists. We will have ARC’s available and a book raffle prize, too
- 11:00am – 12:00pm – Macmillan Library Marketing Director Talia Sherer
Talia Sherer will discuss her favorite forthcoming Spring and Fall 2012 titles from adult publishers St. Martin’s Press, Griffin, Minotaur Books, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Henry Holt & Co., Picador, Tor/Forge, and Macmillan Audio. Advance copies, finished books, and goofy commentary await all attendees!
- 11:00: Sterling Children’s & Teen Books
- 11:15: St. Martin’s Griffin Teen
- 11:30: Sterling Adult
- 11:45: Macmillan Adult
- 1:30pm – 2:30pm – Scotting Bowditch, School and Library Marketing Director for Penguin Young Readers
- Penguin Young Readers is thrilled to share upcoming titles for Spring and Summer 2012.
- 4:30pm – 5:30pm – A Dark and Delectable Feast of Tor’s Upcoming Releases – with Refreshments!
- Publisher Kathleen Doherty and Senior Editor Susan Chang will present highlights from the Starscape and Tor Teen Winter 2012 list along with hot new releases for Spring 2012. Attendees will partake of advance reading copies, finished books, and delicious “Weenies” snacks!
Sunday, January 22, Dallas Convention Center – Ballroom C1
- 8:00am – 9:00am – Abrams Books for Young Readers
Abrams Books for Young Readers Celebrates Our Spring 2012 List and the Spring 2012 launch of Abrams Appleseed, a new imprint for readers ages 0-5. Join us for book giveaways and more!
- 11:00am – 12:00pm – Hachette Book Group and Perseus Books Group Sprint Titles
Find out what spring books we are excited about at Perseus, and I’ll even share some of the behind the scenes secrets why! Also, get a sneak peek into the Spring titles from Hachette Book Group, there are lots to look forward to!
- 4:30pm – 5:30pm – Bloomsbury/Walker and Kingfisher Books for Young Readers Bloomsbury and Walker Books for Young Readers and Kingfisher Books will present their upcoming Spring 2012 titles, including picture books, middle grade and teen fiction, and a variety of nonfiction for ages 4 to 14. Come join us! Cookies will be served.
- Visit your favorite publishing houses’ booths. (Lists of Children’s, Young Adult, Graphic Novels/Comics, and Mystery publishers attending.) This was one of my favorite experiences at Midwinter last year. It’s a great alternative if a publisher didn’t host a preview or you weren’t able to attend. Make sure you actually talk to the staff. If you just grab ARCs and dash, you’re certain to miss out on some great conversations and maybe even some hidden gems. Tell the staff your interests so they can focus on titles in which you’d be the most interested. My favorite booth last year was Candlewick’s. The representative I spoke with was excellent. But, as Mr. Burton says, don’t take my word for it, get out there and see what you can see!
- See if your favorite bloggers, scholars, authors, fellow librarians, or other people of interest are attending and seek them out. I know “networking” can sometimes seem like a dirty word but talking with like-minded folks is one of the best things about attending professional conferences. I for one am glad I was able to meet my life twin IRL last year. UPDATE: If you’re a YA enthusiast and blogger, you might consider checking out Great ALA Midwinter YA Blogger Meetup (hosted by Kelly at Stacked.)
- If you’re interested in children’s literature, you probably know that the Youth Media Awards (Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Geisel, Printz) are a must attend. However, I’d also recommend sitting in on ALSC’s Notable Children’s Books and YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Did I miss anything? Please chime in with your suggestions in the comments.
* I used it to take K. T. Horning’s excellent The Newbery Medal: Past, Present and Future.