ALA: An Opinionated, Biased, Subjective Rundown from One of Thousands

dc-site_02.gifThis is a quick and highly opinionated run down of ALA (and our weekend in D.C.):

Best Booth: Harper Collins – They had multiple copies of several books for free, gave free copies of new books by authors there to sign, and, on the last day, allowed everyone in line to take two free display books (I got two I was planning to buy; saved me over fifty bucks). There were a lot of others in the running.

Lamest Booth: Google – In order to get anything, you had to do a scavenger hunt, which I will grant showed some of their new features. But the reward for this was unbelievably lame: a microscopic lapel pin. Come on, Google, you can do better than that! I’m not even going to link to your site. Ha, let’s see how that impacts your business.

Best Tote Bag Giveaway: Demco and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (tie)

Best Program: “Diplomacy 101: Dealing with Difficult Customers” – I have a limited sample (attended 11) but this was the best, most practical program and had loads of info I will take back. Also inspired me to buy the presenter’s book.

Best Author Reading/Lecture: Steve Almond and Ken Burns (tie) – Again, I had a limited number of these to choose from but enjoyed these two highly.

Best Book Signing Session: Bill Bradley – Even though I missed his auditorium session, I did get a book signed. I did not have enough for his new book, The New American Story (they only took cash), on the day he was signing, so I got a copy of Life on the Run for ten bucks and had him sign it. I was able to return the next day with cash in hand and by a signed copy of his new book.

Biggest Problem: Lack of Seating – In more than half of the programs I went to, I ended up sitting on the floor. In half of the others, other people had to sit on the floor. For those counting, that is 75% of programs where there were not enough seats (again from my limited sample of ten or so programs).

Best Deal: Exhibit Pass – I got one of these for my wife for only $25 for the whole convention. She came away with as much swag-or more-as I did and gifts aplenty for friends and family.

Worst Deal: Six Dollar Curly Fries at the convention center. Update: I just looked at the receipt: they were $6.50.

Best Free Service for Attendees: Shuttles to Hotels – Though I did a lot of walking, I did take advantage of this one or two times during the conference. I forgot how tiring a full day of activities can be. Thanks, Thomson Gale!

Best Meals: Since this is such an important issue, I had to break it up into three sub-categories.

  • Breakfast: The Corner Bakery (another chain, I know; at least this is not in Houston) had fantastic breakfast paninis; I stopped for breakfast every morning.
  • Lunch: Lei Garden – This was a dim sum restaurant in Chinatown a few blocks form the convention center. Downstairs is a Chinese seafood restaurant. Letitia and I went at lunch and it was empty and didn’t look promising. As we turned to go, we saw a sign pointing up the stairs for dim sum. Up we went to a different scene, every seat was full and for good reason. This is a great lunch spot with attentive and fast service and fantastic and authentic (I think) dim sum. If you’re in DC, make an effort to find it at lunchtime.
  • Dinner: Bombay Palace I know this should be some D.C. only eatery and not a chain restaurant we could eat at at home. But, in Houston, we always go out to eat with the kids and on this trip we were alone for a few nights. We hiked to BP to get Indian food and it was wonderful. I forgot how much I love Indian food.

Best Movie Watched in Hotel When We Should Have Been Sleeping: Shaun of the Dead

Worst Movie Watched in Hotel When We Should Have Been Sleeping: Hitch

Overall, I had a great time, learned a lot, and was reminded yet again of why I am proud to be a librarian. I cannot wait for Anaheim next year. What I am really looking forward to is attending my first PLA (Public Library Association) conference in Minneapolis in 2008.

2 Responses to “ALA: An Opinionated, Biased, Subjective Rundown from One of Thousands”

  1. letitia Says:

    Best comic book stall: DC, far and away. I went in full of love for Marvel, but got no love in return. D.C. was giving away good stuff.

    Most overpriced accessory: the books made out of purses. $140? Really?

    Best inscriptions: Peter Sis. Peter Sis rocked w/ the original artwork. It either tied into the theme of the book or the name of the person. How cool is that? He’s coming to U of H in October.

    Most constantly staffed w/ an author while giving away free books: the romance publishers were all about giving it away, it was just a question of whether or not you actually wanted it.

    Most coveted item I didn’t get: The Eric Carle Baby Bear bag

    Cutest item I did get: the Toot & Puddle bag

    Author most likely to run away screaming if he sees me again: Steve Almond

  2. letitia Says:

    Longest line I saw: Judy Blume

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