By Cheryl L. Yeatts, Manager
Sedona Public Library in the Village
Sedona AZ (July 21, 2017) -In 2013 I attended my first American Library Association (ALA) conference in Chicago. I was completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of this conference, which featured thousands of speakers, programs, events, and exhibitors. When I learned that ALA 2017 was in Chicago, I was determined to attend with a plan.
The 2017 Annual Conference and Exhibition, June 22 to 27, did not disappoint. More than 22,700 librarians, library workers, and library supporters attended the conference. There were over 1,800 programs and more than 2,500 events from which to choose. The exhibit hall hosted more than 6,500 exhibitors.
While I could not attend all the programs, I would like to share a few of my highlights:
- Julie Todaro, 2016 to 2017 ALA President, kicked off the conference with an inspirational message to all librarians, “Ours is a noble profession, dedicated to equity and inclusion.” She encouraged us to continue to lobby for funding for libraries.
- Reshma Saujani, CEO and founder of Girls Who Code, was the featured speaker for the opening session. During her address she explained the importance of inspiring young girls to be involved in the technology and science fields.
- Sandra Uwiringiyimana brought the audience to tears as she related the harrowing tales of her life after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo and living in a Burundi refugee camp. When she was 10 years old, the camp was attacked. She witnessed her mother being shot and her aunt and six-year-old sister being killed. She acknowledged that she could be bitter and filled with hatred, but she encouraged us to practice kindness in our daily lives.
- Andy Weir, bestselling author of “The Martian,” lightened the mood with funny stories about his childhood and his struggles as a writer. His wonderful sense of humor definitely shines through in his writing. He introduced his new book “Artemis,” to be released in November.
- Sarah Jessica Parker—actress, avid reader, and library supporter—was introduced as the inaugural chair of ALA Book Club Central, a new online platform to provide resources for book clubs of all kinds. As the honorary chair, Parker will provide content around her recommended titles throughout the year. She announced her first selection for Book Club Central—“No One Is Coming to Save Us” by Stephanie Powell Watts. Resources for ALA Book Club Central can be found at bookclubcentral.org.
Waiting in line seems to be the norm during the ALA Annual Conference—waiting for the bus, waiting for speakers and programs to begin, waiting for authors to sign books. Was all this wait time worth it? Absolutely! What better way to connect and share ideas with librarians from all over the world.
Sarah Jessica Parker’s high praise for librarians has stayed with me, “If a library is the very heart of a community, the librarians keep the heart beating.”
I returned from the ALA 2017 Annual Conference exhausted but inspired and proud to be a librarian serving the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona!