So I’m officially a children’s book author, I guess, now that I’ve experienced my first ALA — that wild, chaotic, yet somehow orderly tribute to the love affair between librarians and the books they treasure.

In between wining, dining and signing, I got to cruise the floor and soak up the passion that children’s librarians and educators have for their jobs. It was amazing to see how much they could get done in three short days. Here’s a short list:

They were buying books and snagging galleys by the dozens.

They were lugging forty pounds worth of books and coming back for more.

They were paying for the books with their own money, so they could stock their libraries back home for the year.

They were paying for the trip with their own money because they absolutely had to be there, but their school or town budgets wouldn’t cover it.

They were scampering from signing to panel to awards ceremony to dessert party without missing a step. (And in heels.) (Most of them.)

They were tweeting and posting and blogging and using a lot of exclamation points because they were so excited.

They were sitting on the floor in corners, charging their phones so they could tweet and blog and post some more.

They were getting up for presentations at 7am and closing down the dessert bar at 11pm.

They were saying “Thank you!” to authors who signed their books, which is kind of hilarious, since we owe whatever success we have to them. They’re the ones who do the heavy lifting, who get the books in kids’ hands, who help the avid readers find the book that might change their lives, and help the reluctant readers find the book that might change their minds.

They were eating lunch on the run, so they could be on time to their next event.

They were greeting each other like family, even if they were just conference pals, who ran into each other once or twice a year.

They were sharing hotel rooms to save money.

They were taking advantage of the open bars.

They were conferring awards on authors that were the most important awards those authors would ever receive.

They were making memories that would last a lifetime and making plans to meet again in six months.

They were secure in the knowledge that even though they’re in a business that’s under attack from all sides, with books being censored and funding drying up and staff positions disappearing, they have the best and most important job in the world. Because they get kids to open up their eyes. And that’s the first step to opening up the world.

So thanks to all you professionals in the library sciences, for inviting me to your love affair. I hope to see you again soon.


Tommy G


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