All right, I’m going to attempt to recap my experiences at ALA Midwinter last week. This was my first time at Midwinter, although I attended ALA Annual two years ago.
My plan was to drive up from Indianapolis on Friday. Even though I woke up with a cold, I did manage to get to Chicago around 4:30. I had been nervous about the fact that it’s such a big city and the hotel is right in the middle. Fortunately, I managed to time it so I didn’t hit rush hour, and the worst part was trying to find a place to park. (I later discovered that all the parking garages I thought were close just have doors that shut automatically.) I got settled at the hotel and went down to try to get to the conference. One shuttle pulled off just as I got there and the next one was completely full before I could get on! It was quite a long line, but fortunately this never happened to me again. Funny moment: while standing in line, I was chatting with the person next to me and said, “Well, at least it’s not too cold,” which from my point of view it wasn’t. Apparently, they disagreed.
Eventually I got there and checked in at the conference. I decided to look at the exhibits briefly and ended up meeting up with Brandy! I picked up a couple of ARCs, but it was too busy and I was too tired to spend much time there. Brandy and I had been planning to have dinner at a Noodles & Co. that was near my hotel, which was a nice low-stress thing for the first night. After that, I went straight back to the hotel and pretty much crashed.
There were a few things I had been possibly interested in attending in the morning, but I opted to sleep in a bit, because colds are the worst. I ended up walking over to Argo tea for breakfast. Quiche and really good chai.
The first thing I went to on Saturday ended up being “YALSA Trends Impacting YA Services: Designing the library of the future for & with teens”. This was a program I thought would be relevant to my job and was hoping would be interesting and inspiring. It was definitely thought-provoking, and I liked several of the principles, but I didn’t myself find the details translated well into other situations. Of course it would be great to have teens and tweens invested and helping plan programs, but it’s not going to be every library’s reality. The ideas also seemed very education focused and for a lot of the kids that we see regularly when they come in after school, more education is not at all what they want. I wish I had been able to stay for the discussion and question part of the talk, because my hesitations might have been addressed.
Next, I headed up to the Macmillan/Tor Teen Book Buzz event, and eventually connected with Jenny. I was expecting to be really interested in the Tor titles because, well, Tor. But I ended up being far more interested in what MacMillan was putting out. (All the Rage, Delicate Monsters, Bet Your Life–it sounds like they have a really strong line-up.) Also, I found out that apparently Lovecraftian YA is a thing, which I really am not excited about.
I did duck into the Ignite session, hoping to catch Angie Manfredi’s 20 Diverse Titles booktalk. Alas, I was a little bit too late and walked in to a discussion of library website layout. Sigh. There was a look at diverse comics which was interesting, but I am sad I missed out on the booktalk.
I ate a sandwich I bought in the morning (I recommend this for lunches, since everything is expensive and the lines are long at the actual convention center). And then Brandy and I met up and managed to find the BFYA teen feedback session. This was simultaneously a great experience and a really frustrating one. The teens themselves were awesome–I love how willing they are to just say that they hated a book. There were several who were super articulate and thoughtful. And I have a lot of thoughts about how many of these teen girls LOVED Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and why this totally validates my thoughts on that book. But the format of the session was really annoying: apparently in the past, the teens have been asked to choose one title per page of the list. This time the adult moderator literally went through EVERY SINGE TITLE. I left about 10 minutes after the session was supposed to have ended and they still hadn’t reached the Js. I had problems with this for a few reasons: 1) it seems really disrespectful to the teens and their adults to have them prepare for all of these books and then not even get to 3/4 of them and 2) it meant that a lot of time was taken up with teens saying the same things. I know that the possibility of getting through the whole list is slim to none anyway, but again, 3/4 of the list was left. All in all, this is a great event, but the people organizing it fell down on the job this year.
Because that session had gone over (and was still going when I left), I was late to the next thing, which was another Book Buzz–HarperCollins (which I completely missed), Disney-Hyperion, and Bloosmbury. Disney-Hyperion is such an interesting imprint to me because they have such a mix of really commercial titles and some very thoughtful ones. Takeaway titles from this session for me: Watch the Sky, Black Dove, White Raven, the last Clementine book, Shadows of Sherwood, Women Who Broke the Rules, The Devil You Know (new Trish Doller!). Also apparently a retelling of The Princess and the Pea, which I have questions about.
At this point, I was feeling really terrible, so I went back to my hotel and rested for awhile. I managed to get myself up and get pizza (spinach artichoke feta, SO GOOD). One of the weirder experiences ever was sitting in Giordano’s eating and having “The Hanging Tree”–you know, the song from Mockingjay–come on the music station they were playing. Anyway, after I got food, I went straight back to the hotel and bed.