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Trip to ALA!

At the end of June, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the American Library Association Conference in San Francisco, California. For one week, 15,883 attendees consisting of librarians, publishers, and authors, as well as 6,813 exhibitors, came to the city to show off their goods and services. I was able to attend the conference thanks to a program that the American Library Association (ALA) hosts every year called Student 2 Staff. This program is specifically for students currently working on their Masters of Library Science or those who have just graduated. There are 36 spots available for students and only one student from each library school may participate. The students chosen by their school get paired up with a sub-organization within ALA and help the organization throughout the week of the conference for a minimum of 16 hours total. In return for the student’s work, they are compensated with housing, a per diem, and conference fees covered. I was lucky enough to be selected by my school, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM). I was selected to represent them because of my involvement with the graduate student organization over my two years while at UWM.

ALA logo

I was paired up with the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) for my hours during the conference. ALSC asked me to hand out and collect evaluation forms at information sessions, so I was able to attend a number of sessions while working. Two exemplary sessions that I attended were “Summer Learning: a Family Affair” and “More to the Core: From the Craft of Nonfiction to the Expertise in the Stacks.” In “Summer Learning,” the San José Public Library presented on how they made their summer reading program more inclusive for all age levels, and how this rethinking has increased their participation drastically. In “More to the Core,” I heard author Melissa Sweet describe how she does research and how she illustrates her award winning children’s nonfiction books. In addition, Judy Cheatham, VP of Literacy Services at Reading is Fundamental, spoke on the importance of nonfiction books and year round reading. Listening to both of these women speak was inspiring, as they showed how important reading and the library are to readers of all ages and literacy levels.

While my experiences within the sessions were just what I expected to take away from the conference, I was surprised with how valuable some of my other experiences were in San Francisco. Another task ALSC assigned me was directing the attendance of the Newberry and Caldecott Awards Banquet. It was amazing to see hundreds of librarians, publishers, and authors pouring into a large banquet room with such excitement over which books would be the award winners for the year. Interacting with librarians in all fields from around the world was inspiring. I met a gentleman who was a UWM graduate currently working for ALA in Chicago, and we were able to talk about professors that we both had. I met peers that I believe will be life-long friends, just because I was at the conference and we have the library field in common. I was able to hear how library systems function in different states, such as how some California libraries have English learning programs located within their libraries.

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About the Author

Allison is an Adult Services Librarian with the New Berlin Public Library... Read More »

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July 16, 2015 @ 5:34 pm
Kate Unger
( Mom's Radius )

Sounds like an amazing experience. I really want to go to a book conference at some point. :)

July 21, 2015 @ 1:05 pm
Allison Fantetti
( New Berlin Public Library )

It was amazing, if you ever have the opportunity to attend one it is worth going to! I met one of my all time favorite authors, Tim Fedrle, who signed his two children's books for me. I was also able to take home so many advanced reader copies of books from all genres and ages.

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