Monday, May 11, 2009

MLA and LILC (Trip Report)

Last Wednesday, I spoke at the Massachusetts Library Association Annual Conference (MLA), and last Thursday, I spoke at the Long Island Library Conference (LILC). Slept about two hours on the night between the two events, but it was well worth it. I had a wonderful time at both.

The MLA conference was in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of Dr. Seuss. This led to statements such as, "Take a left at the Lorax and head out through the Yertle gate." My hotel room had a painting of a Cat in the Hat statue. It also had those oblong pillows that serve no functional purpose that I can see, aside from bopping people on the head.

I was well-fed at the conference: a huge breakfast spread in the convention center lobby (with many very nice librarians), a box lunch in the ballroom (with two very nice librarians, Maureen Ambrosino and Sue-Ellen Szymanski), and dinner in an art museum (with lots more very nice librarians plus art). Good people + good food = excellent event.

In addition to meeting a ton of awesome librarians, I also had a chance to talk with Patricia McKillip and her husband. I pretty much worship Patricia McKillip's writing. I've reread her Forgotten Beasts of Eld more times than I can remember, and I'd just finished her lovely Bell at Seeley Head before going to MLA. She writes prose so beautiful that it leaves me with a case of serious sentence-envy. Turns out that she's as nice as her prose is pretty.

I did my presentation ("The Importance of Talking Cats: YA and Children's Fantasy") in the late afternoon. I talked about why I (in my totally unbiased opinion) think that fantasy literature is the best thing since sliced bread and promoted my firm belief that all novels can be improved by the addition of a talking cat.

Closed out the night with Game Night with the Youth Services Section, wherein I hung out with several cool librarians, including my host Sarah Sogigian, and demonstrated that I do not have a sense of rhythm whatsoever. I am really, really bad at Rock Band.

Woke up at 4:30am, dumped a LOT of gel in my hair, and drove to Long Island for conference #2. The Long Island Library Conference was held at Crest Hollow Country Club, a swanky place with so many chandeliers and fountains that even the elevator had a chandelier and fountain. Okay, it didn't really, but it was shiny. I think I was underdressed for the place, but the hair gel did save me from the crazy-author-hasn't-left-the-house-in-days- due-to-chapter-ten-kicking-my-butt look that I normally sport. I was able to check it in the reflection from the elevator.

I met my host, Kristen Todd-Wurm, as well as several other librarians at the CLASC (Children's Librarians Association of Suffolk County) table where they were selling copies of my books Into the Wild and Out of the Wild. Had a lovely time talking to them and signing books. After two days of talking with many librarians, I have reaffirmed my belief that awesomeness is one of their job requirements.

My talk was the last one of the day, but people came anyway, which made me happy. Perhaps they were just kept in by the deluge outside (it was the kind of rain that makes you check to be sure the animals aren't starting to pair up), but I'll take it.

I had a lovely huge projection screen for my slides and a presentation area so large that I felt as if I should spice up my talk with a dance routine. I resisted that urge, you'll be happy to know. Despite my childhood years of ballet, tap, and jazz, I am not what you'd call coordinated. Show me a coffee table and I will walk into it. And then I'll bruise for, like, three years. Anyway, I again espoused the virtues of my beloved genre while showing photos of myself that revealed my total dorkiness. I had a great time.

Afterwards, I returned home and proceeded to ignore my still-packed suitcase for the entirety of the weekend. All in all, an excellent two days!

Note to anyone who signed up at MLA to receive my newsletter: I cleverly lost my sign-up list somewhere in Springfield so if you added your email address during my talk (or didn't and would like to), please drop me an email at or use the newsletter sign-up form in the sidebar of my blog. Thanks!

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At 3:58 PM, Blogger Q said...

I'm bad at Rock Band, too. I can handle the easy bass part and the singing part if I know the song--but that's stretching.

Have you unpacked yet? I wouldn't have. I hate unpacking.

(Still So. Excited. for Ice.)

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Q: I wasn't brave enough to try the singing part. Maybe next time...


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