It's Germane

The John Jermain Library's Weblog

PLA Day Two Capped by Author Sue Grafton

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If you’ve read the three previous posts on this blog, you know that I’m at the Public Library Association (PLA) conference in Portland, OR. You also know that the conference’s first day was very exciting, with a concert/presentation by Natalie Merchant, and an opening keynote address by Nicholas D. Kristof. Sadly, not every day at a conference can be that special, and so today we got down to serious library business — although dinner was a bit of a throwback to day one. More on that later.

So what does serious library business look like?  Well, over three days, the conference offers more than 120 presentations by library professionals and other experts on all aspects of running a library — everything from analyzing statistics to improving storytime, with a fair dose of technology topics (my specialty) thrown in. So, choosing which to attend is key to having a successful conference. Fortunately, I had help in this endeavor from Catherine Creedon, our library director. Together we narrowed the list down to ten presentations that we hoped would allow me to return home with information useful to the John Jermain Memorial Library.

The topics we chose for day two were:

  • Creating Self-Directed Library Environments
  • Sandtraps in Cyberspace: How to Avoid Social Software Policy Pitfalls
  • Library Mashups: Exploring New Ways to Deliver Library Data (this one was a technology topic)
  • Mourning the Loss: The Challenge of Change

Obviously, these are topics that, while of great interest to the professionals at JJML, probably don’t seem all that scintillating to you, so I’ll refrain from further description. Let it suffice to say that with the exception of the “Library Mashups” talk (which was a bit too elementary for me), all the presentations provided lots of useful information, tips and tricks that will be of benefit to our library. A day well spent.

And, during the breaks between presentations, there were lots of vendors to speak to in a huge exhibition hall including one who may be able to help us improve our offerings in the children’s computer area.

Then there was dinner, sponsored by the Audiobook Publisher’s Association. This consisted of standard banquet fare in a huge room packed with hundreds of people, and short speeches by three not-so-standard authors and one audiobook reader. The authors were Chelsea Cain, Marsha Mueller and Sue Grafton. The reader was Judy Kaye, who reads all the Kinsey Milhone mysteries that Sue Grafton writes. I was thrilled. Although I have not read Chelsea Cain, I have read most of Marsha Mueller’s mysteries, as well as every book that Sue Grafton has written.  I love mysteries, and Ms. Mueller and Ms. Grafton are two of my favorite mystery authors.

All the speakers were interesting, sharing anecdotes from their writing and performing careers; however Sue Grafton, was not just interesting–she was hysterically funny. Allocated ten minutes, she spoke for almost thirty, and not one of the 600 hundred people in the room begrudged her a minute of that time; we were all too convulsed with laughter to care.

After the dinner, I decided that I would try to thank her for her books and her very entertaining speech. One never knows what to expect when approaching a celebrity, and I had some trepidation about doing so, but was quickly put at ease when I found her hugging, kissing and joking with a small pack of librarians at the front of the room. I ended up having a very pleasant short chat with her, at the end of which she wished me a safe trip home and gave me a kiss on the cheek. For me, this is as close to reader’s heaven as it gets.

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