“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.”
– Henry Ward Beecher
This year I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the American Library Association‘s (ALA) annual conference which was held in New Orleans. This was my first time attending ALA so I was really excited to connect with other librarians and vendors. I mostly stuck to the conference and didn’t explore too much because this was actually the second time I’ve been to New Orleans (2014 RT Book Lovers Convention). It was also blisteringly hot and humid and I was not prepared with extra clothes to combat all the sweat and I’m originally from Florida so I know hot but this was something else.
I have to admit that I’m not an adventurous eater and I don’t generally like spicy food so I’m probably not the right person to appreciate the culinary wonder that is New Orleans. But I did take some time to visit Cafe du Monde and get some delicious beignets covered in powdered sugar and I have to give a shout out to The Rum House Caribbean Taqueria which was soooo good!
I saw a ton of sessions and walked forever and ever because it turns out the convention center is one mile long! There was so much to take in and it was all a bit overwhelming, especially for my introverted self, but it was a great experience. I can’t cover everything and honestly some of it would bore you, but here were three highlights from the week:
Opening Session with Michelle Obama
I was over the moon when they announced that Michelle Obama would be talking about her new book for the opening session of ALA. I have so much respect for Ms. Obama whose intelligence, class, and grace were an inspiration during her time as the First Lady. She did not disappoint and I really enjoyed this session even if I had to sit in line for two hours before it started. That’s what my kindle is for after all.
Advanced screening of The Public with Emilio Estevez
I heard about The Public back in 2017 and when I realized it was about a public library I was like “What?!” so of course I had to check this out. I was absolutely blown away with how amazing this movie was, not just as a representation of what librarians do but just as a movie in general. You can check out the official trailer here and I highly recommend seeing the movie when it comes to theaters, which they hinted would probably be in November. Making the experience even better was the opportunity to listen to Emilio Estevez, who wrote, produced, and starred in the movie, do a Q&A afterward where he discussed his inspiration and experience. And I even got to briefly meet him and get a picture so I was pretty much on cloud nine the rest of the day!
Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Panel
There were also some great author panels and I made sure to attend the panel on Gender and Sexuality in Science Fiction and Fantasy which included Seanan McGuire, Nnedi Okorafor, Jacqueline Carey, and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Though I haven’t read books by all the authors I really enjoyed listening to them talk about how they’ve conquered the genre and brought representation that is often not seen in other areas of fiction.
Overall, it’s been a wonderful but exhausting experience! I’m glad for the chance to attend but I was so happy to get back to my own pillow, my husband, and my dog, all of which I’d really been missing.