Thursday, April 12, 2012

PLA 2012 Part 1

I promised you a recap of the Public Library Association Conference I attended in Philadelphia back in mid-March. Finally here's Part 1, with Part 2 (hopefully) soon to follow.

Opening Speaker: Robert Kennedy Jr. 
He was so awesome and inspiring! I unfortunately missed the beginning because of registration issues, but really enjoyed his talk about environmental issues.

Getting eContent to Your Customers
As with many of the sessions, this was a panel of 4 people. I like this structure because with that many people, you know at least one of them will be interesting.

The first speaker was from ALA and, predictably, was very vague and about 10 steps behind everyone else. He talked about all the frustrations with ebooks and the fact that it is difficult for libraries. Tell me something I don't already know, ALA!

Next was Tom Peters from Illinois State University, whose theme was "war and revolution." He talked about the potential of econtent, and implored libraries to stop courting the big 6 publishers and start courting Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and possibly Google Books. 

Lisa Hickman from the non-profit publisher Dzane Books brought the perspective of a publisher who actually wants libraries to have ebooks. Their books are DRM-free and she says that, despite what the large publishers say, libraries DO help book sales. 

Finally we heard from Michael Porter of Library Renewal, a nonprofit organization that aims to partner with libraries to find new solutions for ebook purchasing. (In fact, my library has recently become a partner.) 

Essentially, while ALA is having a lot of committee meetings and discussions, other players are actually starting to take action. Groups like Library Renewal give me hope!

Meet This Season's Best in Debut Authors
Four newly-published authors talked about their books.

I've already reviewed Charlotte Rogan's book, The Lifeboat. 

Southern author Wiley Cash was raised in an evangelical church, and those experiences form the basis of his novel A Land More Kind Than Home, which I am reading now and will review soon. (Hint: it is good!)

Kira Peikoff has written a medical thriller called Living Proof, which takes place in a future United States in which destroying an embryo is first-degree murder. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Finally Stephen Dau spoke about The Book of Jonas, a very well-reviewed novel about a teenage boy from a Muslim country who is sent to the US after his family is killed. 

It was a great session and I came away with copies of all the books mentioned, which is a bonus!

Trends in Genre Series
Joyce Saricks is a great presenter but her talk was on Gentle Reads, which aren't big sellers here in the greater Boston area so I didn't take many notes.

John Charles of the Scottsdale, AZ public library presented on romance. This was interesting to me because I don't read in that genre at all, and I hadn't thought about how series in this genre are inherently difficult. One of the constructs is that in the end a couple has to hook up in a fairly permanent way, and you can't just have them break up in the second book so they can have more romances. So romance series tend to be about different people in the same town, for instance, or family sagas, or people who may be unrelated but are all cowboys. 

Becky Spratford, author of the Readers' Advisory Guide to Horror, spoke about the rise of graphic novels in that genre, which spurred me to read her recommendation Locke & Key (link.)

Finally, Keir Graft from Booklist spoke about crime fiction, which amusingly were categorized under headings such as "Mergers and Acquisitions" (when main characters from different series come together in crossover books),"Books by the Yard" (prolific authors such as James Patterson), and "From Beyond the Grave" (dead authors whose books are still being written.

This was just a huge list of many many program ideas from the San Diego Public Library. The important take-away from this session for me was that ALL staff can and should be leading programs. The speaker also emphasized the importance of partnering with the Friends and other organizations for programming.

Some of the specific ideas that I liked were the edible book contest, in which participants used food items to recreate some aspect of a book (if you scroll down a bit, there's a picture here)
and cooking programs such as their Iron Chef Salsa Slam. I also like their ideas about "passive programming," which is anything that doesn't have a specific event. For instance, a bulletin board where patrons can put up notes about why they love the library for National Library Week, or a program coordinating holiday mail for soldiers.

It was exhausting just typing this, and that's only half of the conference. I'll tell you all about the rest of it soon!

No comments: