Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Secret Lives of Interns: Intern Goes to a Conference!

A blog by Rachael Gilman

I haven’t actually been at the JMM for about a week. Where was I for so long?

I was down in Washington DC for the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference.

I attended my first ALA conference last year in Chicago and the whole thing was a whirlwind of activities. This year’s conference went by just as fast.

My ALA 2010 experience actually started on Friday at a pre-conference event held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art called “Drawn to Delight: How Picture Books Work (and Play) Today.” Fifteen different illustrators attended to help show the importance of picture books and illustrations, including Caldecott winners Jerry Pinkney and Brian Selznick. Speeches and presentations were broken up by small group sessions about illustrations and art demonstrations.

Illustrator Kadir Nelson demonstrates his technique of combining oils with fabric collage.

I left with three free books, a full belly (meals and snacks were provided) and a greater appreciation for illustrators.

“Drawn to Delight” was probably my favorite thing, but the rest of the conference wasn’t boring. I attended sessions on all kinds of topics: gaming in libraries (bought two books from authors on that panel), to science fiction and fantasy (five free books) to advice for job seekers. Some sessions were on really “unique” topics. “Not so Extreme Makeovers” talked about how librarians can use their wardrobe to break the librarian stereotype. “Archivists and Librarians: Together we can save Congress” was a panel made up of the librarians and archivists that preserve the papers generated by Congress.

When I wasn’t in sessions I was exploring “The Stacks” (the exhibits). Vendors selling almost everything you can think of for libraries from carpet to books, universities with librarian and information science programs, graphic artists and architects, food stands and much more filled the exhibit hall.

Librarians pour into the exhibit hall.
Never come between librarians and free stuff.

My favorite booths this year were Wizards of the Coast (three free books), Scholastic (they had Brian Selznik there for a book signing), Unshelved (a hilarious web comic about working in a library), and Gaylord (they have good products and they gave out free ice cream one day!).

So what does any of this have to do with the JMM?

Well, ALA includes archives and the JMM has an archive. Ok, seriously, a lot of the concepts and ideas I learned at ALA I can turn around and share with the JMM. I can take what I learned about illustrations and children’s books at “Drawn to Delight” and share it with Anita and the others working on the children’s book about Lloyd Street Synagogue. From the session I attended about age appropriate practice I got a great handout that I could give to the education department. I can talk to Jenn about the archivists and librarians who preserve the Congressional papers. Maybe I could even share one of the dozen free books I picked up (alright, I haven’t shared any of the books, but I did give Jobi some pencils).

The ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition is a great learning experience. I’m really glad that the JMM could let me off for a week so I could go!

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