Both Meghan Nuttall Sayres and Kelly Milner Halls attended the American Library Association's annual conference in June of 2008 --in Anaheim, California this year. And what a whirlwind of activity that experience turned out to be.
Meghan signed for her publisher, Harry N. Abrahms/Amulet Books of course. But she also took part in a wonderful opportunity, the YALSA Coffee Klatch, Sunday morning, June 29. A ticketed event, YA librarians gathered at round tables with two empty chairs and enjoyed a "speed dating" experience with award winning authors, including Meghan, John Green, Sherman Alexie, Terry Trueman, A.M. Jenkins, and others. For five minutes, an author and her or his publicist joined a table to talk about writing for young adults. Once five minutes had passed, the whistle sounded, and the authors moved to a new table to repeat the discussion with a new group of fans. Meghan was terrific, of course.
Kelly (on the right in photo above with Crutcher fan, Mary) presented on a PLA (Public Library Association) panel about nonfiction for reluctant readers with photographer Nic Bishop on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm in the convention center. Not a seat was empty and people were standing at the doors as Kelly and Nic shared their passion for nonfiction and the kids that love it. Laughter and tears made it a special event because everyone in the room was there for the love of those kids. Kelly signed books for over an hour at the Lerner booth after her panel.
Why go to ALA? Because librarians are the gatekeepers when it comes to children's literature. We as storytellers work hard to create material worth reading. But the librarians bridge the gap between writers and readers. They work so hard and so selflessly to make themselves aware of the books and authors waiting for discovery, and they offer them up, often one-on-one, to the kids most likely to connect with them.
We owe librarians much more than our thanks. Attending ALA is one way to express our appreciation. Meghan and Kelly were both grateful to have that chance.