Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Blogger Confessions --- about BEA and ALA

I'm late this week .... Monday just disappeared, and all of a sudden, I'm at Wednesday.  But I thought this was an interesting topic this week, so I wanted to add my two cents.

Before we begin, here's the info about BBC:    Book Blogger Confessions is very nicely co-hosted by two bloggers, Midnyte Reader and For What It's Worth, and is a Monday meme (that very helpfully runs through the week).     :)

This week's question is: Question: BEA, ALA. Have you ever been before? If you've been before, share your experiences; both pro & con. If you haven't gone before, do you participate in online events like Armchair BEA? Do you hope to go one day? Do you feel too intimidated to go? Are you jealous of the big book hauls and tweets during the events?(question from Julie – My 5 Monkey’s)

I'm weighing in on this question because as a librarian and a book blogger, I definitely have some thoughts on this.   And that means this is a long post (feel free to skim, if you like).

Let me start by saying that I've never been to BEA, although I would really love to go some day.  However, right now, it never seems to work out with my budget (because, um... librarians don't usually have huge salaries), or my work schedule. Armchair BEA also never seems to work out for me, mostly because right now, my work schedule ramps up (Summer Read time) and by the time I get home, I'm not in the mood for any more time on the computer.  However, I think that one of these years, I'm just going to bite the bullet, eat super-cheap for months and save up my money, and figure out a way to go.    As a book blogger, it would be a wonderful experience and opportunity to hear authors, meet other bloggers, etc.    Plus, I could then stop being so envious of everyone else who gets to go.  

ALA is a bit of a different animal, in my mind.  As a librarian, I relish my opportunities to go to ALA because it's time that I can spend meeting other librarians, hearing speakers, going to panels, meeting library vendors and publishers, and basically, getting ideas that I can bring back to my library, to better serve my patrons.  I think it makes me a better librarian because I'm getting all the information and ideas --- and I always find it re-invigorates me, which is something that I periodically need.  This is because I work with the public, and sometimes, the people I encounter at my library aren't sweet and nice and make me feel wonderful about being a librarian.   So, I sometimes have some low moments, which are usually brought back up by some of our great patrons .... but going to a conference usually counts for a big power-up.   ALA does move around, but luckily, comes to Chicago every few years (I live in one of the Chicago suburbs).

ALA is also great because it gives me an opportunity to meet authors, and talk to publishers --- and yes, have the opportunity to pick up some books.   As a librarian, a big part of what I do is push books and reading in general --- so being able to see what's going on with publishers, and pick up books that I can read, and then recommend, is wonderful.    As a book blogger, I admit that the mere sight of all of the books on the display floor is breathtaking.

So here's where I bring in a bit of, shall we say, crankiness, about ALA and the free books.   

As a librarian, who works really hard, and who goes to ALA as part of that work (it's considered a full working day when I go, and I do spend my entire day going to panels, groups, discussions, etc.), it can be a little frustrating when I'm in line to pick up a book, or talk to a publisher, and someone who is a book blogger is very pushy (either verbally or physically).   The last time I was at ALA, I had this happen a few times ---- I would be in line, and a book blogger would be there with a friend, loudly talking about how many books they were grabbing, and there would be a bit of pushing and shoving.

I do not mind that book bloggers attend ALA.   I do not mind that they are there to get books, because the good book bloggers get these books, read them, and then post about them, thus spreading the word about great books, and reading, in general.    

I do mind that some people who attend ALA seem to not have much respect for other people around them, in their quest to grab as many books as they can carry.   I also do not care for bloggers who post about their huge book haul, and then don't seem to ever post any reviews of those books.  

ALA is a library conference, and thus, is aimed at librarians.   Librarians who work hard, for not a lot of pay, and who consider this conference an opportunity to network, and meet authors and publishers as part of their work.   For librarians, ALA can be a once-every-few-years kind of opportunity, and because of work schedules, we might only have 1 day that we can attend.  We  might not live in or near the city that's holding the conference, and our libraries do not always have the money to send us to conferences.   Even if the library is in Illinois and the conference is in Chicago.   So there are librarians and library staff who save up their money and travel to an ALA conference on their own, just because they are that dedicated to their profession.

I welcome book bloggers who attend ALA for the experience of meeting authors (because I know authors are our rock stars!!), and who are respectful of others when they're in line to get a book, or meet an author, or attend a panel.    But, I'd ask that non-librarians who attend ALA please be aware that this is a library conference ---- respect that there are a lot of us there who work in libraries, and who may only have one day to attend this conference --- please don't cut in front of us in lines, step on our feet, or try to elbow your way in front of us (seriously, I'm a solid enough person that if you elbow or shove me, I'm not only not going to move, but I'm going to get really, really cranky.  I used to dance at industrial music clubs, so I can hold my own, ok?).   I treat everyone around me as if they were a professional, so I expect the same courtesy.   If  that happens, we can all enjoy ALA and have a good experience.

And .... that's it.    If you've read this post, I appreciate your sticking with me as I rambled on.   :)  


Karen said...

I've been going to BEA for several years now and I've watched it go from a laid back event to a free for all so I don't think it's just ALA but I agree that event is for YOU, not for bloggers.

You also aren't always available to pick up books all day because of the conferences and panels.

I'm happy to say that things were better organized, calmer and generally more respectful at BEA this year so I'm hoping that carries over for all the cons and we're finally calming down about getting ALL the books.

And it's never to late to join in the discussion! Thanks for sharing your thoughts since you can see it from both a librarians and bloggers perspective.

Lisa Mandina said...

I'm so excited that I'm finally going to "officially" be a librarian next year, and I have kind of waited on that to try to attend ALA. As a blogger and teacher, I was surprised by some of the rudeness at BEA. For the most part though the other bloggers I met were polite and nice. But sometimes when I'd see posts of bloggers who got tons of books, and even multiples of the same book, that was disappointing to me as I waited in line like I figured was fair, and only took one book, and really only took books I wanted.

Midnyte Reader said...

I do appreciate this post and your thoughts. I agree with Karen...the same thing has happened at BEA. I think in some people's quest to get books, they don't understand the venue and the attendees. BEA will be going to Chicago (not sure which year) so I hope you get to go then.

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