Hanging with the Librarians at ALA: An Illustrated Account of My Travels to Orlando

Every year, the American Library Association holds their Annual General Meeting–a chance for librarians of all stripes from around the USA to come together and talk about their work. This year’s meeting was held in Orlando, and your very own porcupette was there for the action.


My conference started bright and early on Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to be precise. I decided to walk the couple of short blocks to the convention centre and almost immediately regretted it. Orlando in June is exactly as hot and humid and utterly miserable as you’d imagine. (Thank the Powers That Be for air conditioning, or my melted remains would have had to have been shipped home in a plastic baggie.)

I picked up my badge at the registration desk and was handed a phone book directory. I spent a good twenty minutes combing through it to plan my day and make the most out of my time there. At 9:00 a.m. sharp, I made my way to the exhibits floor, looking for the action. I was not disappointed.

IMG_20160627_130853932Inside the hall was a dizzying array of vendors, from graphic artists to jewellers to library furniture salesmen to, naturally, publishers large and small. The excitement concentrated around the publishers’ booths, as they were giving away stacks and stacks of advanced reading copies of their fall books. Book signings left right and centre. Demonstrations, discussions, meetings, some sales and even some special events on stages at far edges of the exhibit hall.

IMG_20160626_120355608My strategy was to visit the most relevant vendors first, and thereafter to speak to anybody and everybody. I looked for upcoming publishing trends, found out about cool new bookish tech services, looked for marketing ideas and chatted with more librarians than I’ve ever met.

IMG_20160626_140233567I also headed on over to the PopTop Stage to attend the Foreword INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards, and was pleased as punch to see two PQL books–The Grand River and The Essential Travis Lane–win bronze medals.

IMG_20160625_155833097All in all, despite the hellish weather, I met so many interesting and extremely kind people on my trip down south. I had a fantastic time at ALA 2016 and can’t wait for the next opportunity to mingle with fellow book lovers.

portraitHope everyone enjoyed this little peek inside the meeting. If you were lucky enough to attend, be sure to share your favourite moments of the event in the comments below.


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.