Category Archives: Conferences

Rochester Children’s Book Festival

This past November I volunteered at the Rochester Children’s Book Festival. I have never volunteered at a book festival before, and thought it would be fun. Plus, James Howe was going to be there, and I wanted to meet him.

I manned the greeting table at the entrance with four other volunteers, welcoming visitors, handing out maps/session information, and answering any questions. Many little girls came in clutching Fancy Nancy books – Jane O’Connor was one of the featured authors. She also did a packed-to-capacity-with-people-standing-in-the-hallway storytime.

The festival was compact, but there was a lot to do. There was a book-based arts and crafts room, the first stop for many families, three conference rooms that were set up for sessions and storytimes, and of course, the main event – a huge room where visitors could meet authors and buy their books. I wasn’t able to attend any of the sessions, but there were many that looked interesting, such as the “Chinese Dragon Drawing Workshop” by Yangsook Choi and “Finding the Story in History: Three Graphic Novels” by Matt Phelan.  However, I did get a chance to see some of the authors.

Two authors in particular, James Howe and Linda Sue Park, were on my “must meet” list. James Howe because Bunnicula was the first chapter book I ever read – aged 8, in the car while traveling somewhere in the Nevada desert. I still have the copy of the book I read back then. He graciously signed it for me.

bun sign

And Linda Sue Park because Bee-bim Bop! is my best friend’s daughter’s favorite book (mailed to me from Virginia expressly to have it signed). When her daughter found out that I was going to have the chance to meet Linda Sue Park, she was beyond ecstatic, asking me to take a picture as proof.

lsp me

I met other authors as well. Putting faces to books helps a lot, especially when there were multiple authors there whose books I’ve read (such as Evil Librarian) or are currently on my “to read” list (such as Frogged and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place).

roc books

ALA Must Do’s


The only word to describe getting ready for ALA Las Vegas is overwhelming. I have read multiple blog posts with advice for first-timers, and am trying to take some of it to heart: don’t aim for too many programs, make sure to allot plenty of time to explore the exhibit hall, talk to people.

I have the luxury of this being a personal trip, so I have no agenda other than to show up to learn and do library things. Therein lies the problem – there are too many library things to learn and do. How do I narrow down the possibilities so neither a time turner nor TARDIS are required?

After several months of managing a spreadsheet (and more recently the online scheduler), I have come up with a few core things that must be done while at the conference.

The Must Do’s:

  • The “Using Meaningful Gamification to Motivate Library Users: A Hands-On Workshop” taught by Dr. Scott Nicholson. I participated in the Gamification in Libraries webinar offered by NYLA in March because I had no clue what gamification meant and thought it sounded interesting. My mind was mildly blown at all of the activities one can do in the name of gamification. Some of the ideas I have for Girl Scout activities fall into this realm.
  • LITA Open House. Another webinar I participated in focused on transmedia storytelling. I’m hoping to find people knowledgeable about it and its potential applications. I love the idea of creating programming that moves across multiple formats of media.
  • Stan Lee.
  • Tom Angleberger. One of the more voracious readers at my library is a huge Origami Yoda fan. He had a full-on fan girl meltdown when I told him Tom Angleberger was going to be at ALA.
  • Mayfair Games on the Graphic Novel/Gaming Stage. Settlers of Catan is an awesome game, and the one that gets played the most in our house. My 8-yr old cut her teeth on Catan Junior when she was 5, and has been obsessed with the series ever since.
  • Teaching With Comics on the Graphic Novel/Gaming Stage. It feels so subversive that comics can be used in the classroom. After attending the Comics, Education, and Libraries Conference in Rochester, NY last month, I want to learn more about how to incorporate comics into school curriculum.
  • “S.T.E.M.”-ulating Young Minds: Creating Science-Based Programming @ Your Library (Poster Session). I try to bring science into my Girl Scout meetings, and I want to do that with my library programming as well.
  • ALSC 101. I am the default children’s librarian where I work and am in need of advice or any help that can be offered.
  • Mo Willems. The pigeon is my children in two-dimensional orthnithological form. My mother would argue that I could be a shoe-in for pigeon as well. Don’t know where my kids got it from.
  • Tessa Dare. I never read a romance novel prior to picking up Tessa Dare’s book, Any Duchess Will Do. It was included in one of the many emails of reading suggestions that come through my inbox. I figured what the heck, gave it a shot, and was surprisingly entertained by the strong, intelligent, take-no-prisoners women. Her characters outweigh my issues with romance novel body part vernacular.
  • Comics That Make Kids Smarter on the Graphic Novel/Gaming Stage. Again with the comic books as an educational tool.
  • Cassandra Clare & Holly Black. Because Magnus Bane is the sexiest and snarkiest immortal warlock. Ever. And Spiderwick Chronicles was creepy in a fun way (I need to introduce them my daughter).
  • Ideas and Practices in STEAM Learning. I want to learn more about STEM/STEAM programming.
  • Graphic Novel Petting Zoo. Petting the glossy covers of graphic novels is lovely. Unless they’re matte. Petting their matte covers is also lovely.

Going to Las Vegas!


To cap off our first year of library school, we are going to the ALA conference in Las Vegas! Our first conference as an adult! We won’t be relegated to the childcare room this time! (Our mother took us to to several ALA conferences when we were kids, but our memories are spotty at best as to what we did).



Emma: Step 1 was to convince my husband that this is a “necessary” expense. The fact that Stan Lee is a keynote speaker is in my favor – my husband is an avid watcher/reader of Marvel comics and has managed to get all three of our kids into them as well. The trouble with telling my husband, “I have an idea”, is that his mind rushes to one of three conclusions: it will cost more money than he wants to spend, travel is involved, or both. The man knows me too well because my ideas generally do fall into one of those categories, and going to the ALA conference definitely does.

Convincing my husband boiled down to the fact that the networking and educational possibilities outweighs his need to horde money. He retires in five years, and I have to have a job by the time that happens. After 22 years in the military, the man deserves some R&R.

The highlights for me? Listening to Stan Lee speak, the whole slew of seminars related to comic books/manga, and a preconference seminar relating to gamification. My mom and sister will be going too, just like old times.