My sister tried reaching me at 5:30pm one evening figuring I would be available to talk. I later reached out to her around 10pm telling her I was just getting back to my hotel room. There is no shortage of things to do when you are at a conference, and PLA is no exception!
Dine Around: some conferences offer an option to sign up for a dine-around. This basically means that you go out to dinner with a bunch of strangers, make small talk, and pay for your own meal. I encouraged my colleague Kerry, from back home, to sign up too. Our dine-around was scheduled for Wednesday evening at 6:00pm so Kerry and I headed out and got there 15 minutes early. When we checked in at the host station, they had no idea what we were talking about and had no such reservation for a large group. We looked at our event ticket via email and it showed the name of the restaurant, Barbuzzo, but the conference center’s address. We trekked back to the conference center, through the mostly unshoveled snow, to see where we should be meeting for dinner. We stopped at the PLA registration desk and asked for help but they referred us back to local arrangements (think several blocks away, but inside). Fortunately, the local arrangements person was aware of our dine-around plans and was able to point us back to Barbuzzo to meet our host. It turns out it was just the host, Kerry, and I. I was expecting a much bigger crowd. It’s no wonder the host couldn’t find a booking for this big dine-around I was referring to. We got there about 6:20pm and I felt awful for being so late. After all of that, we had a great meal and great conversation. Kerry and I learned about how librarians in Philadelphia have to test (maybe this?) in to get a job in the system. It sounds very different to how we apply and get offered jobs here in Wisconsin. In fact, our host had learned the night before that she had been offered a job in the Philadelphia Free Library System. This was nearly 9 months after she started the application process. Wow!
Library Journal Author Party: After Kerry and I finished dinner with our host at Barbuzzo, we wanted to catch some of the Library Journal’s Author Party which was from 7-9pm at the African American Museum.
It was sleeting pretty heavily already and because of our delay getting to dinner, we decided to take an Uber. MY.FIRST.EVER.UBER. It was a pretty good experience. The driver was a bit of a character but he was polite and got us to where we needed to go. I want to say we arrived about 7:45-8:00pm. Kerry and I both thought this was more of a mix and mingle type party but when we walked into the program room, there was a panel of authors on the stage being interviewed by a Library Journal staff. They had three groupings of authors and we had missed one grouping entirely and part of the second. After all three sets of authors were interviewed, there were book signings. Kerry and I stood in line and received free signed copies of nearly all of the books. The Uber ride had taken us a lot closer to our final destination so we just walked back to our hotels after the author party. This event was OK but I wish I had known it was more of a formal gathering. We would’ve probably skipped it had we known we were missing half of the program by coming at 8:00pm.
Here was the author line-up: Tom McAllister, Walter Mosley, Fatimah Farheen-Mirza, Malcolm Hansen, Beck Dorey-Stein, Falguni Kothari, Richard Lawson, Elizabeth Winthrop, Cutter Wood, Lisa Scottoline, and Francesca Serritella (Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella were unable to attend due to the snow storm).
Audio Association Publishers Dinner: At my roommate Jean’s recommendation, I signed up for the paid Audio Association Publishers Dinner. It cost $80 to attend and you get a three-course meal, get to hear some great talks by authors, and receive about 10 audiobooks in a swag bag. The featured authors were: Kate DiCamillo, Atz Kilcher (father to Jewel, music superstar), Marley Dias, and Joshlyn Jackson. All of the authors talked about reading and the importance of audio in one way or another. My favorites were Kate DiCamillo and Marley Dias. Marley Dias is going places. I am saying it right here, right now. Learn more about the authors.
Overdrive Billion Book Bash: I heard these parties can be epic and I was not misled. Unfortunately (?), I had already eaten before arriving at the Overdrive party (see above), but there were tons of appetizers. Each person was given two drink tickets and an Overdrive Billion Books t-shirt to celebrate this huge milestone. Read more about the billion borrowed e-books.
The party was at the Ballroom at the Ben, which is a beautiful historic building. The food looked appetizing, music was good (both a band and a DJ), the ice sculpture was pretty nifty, and the sweets ROOM was a nice discovery. But perhaps the memorable part of the evening was when I spotted that people had checked their (free) books at the coat check. Don’t believe me? Check this out (pictured to the right: books checked at the coat check). I probably could’ve skipped this party but I wanted to do ALL.THE.THINGS.
PLA All Conference Reception: This was held from 5:00-7:00pm in the hotel adjacent to the convention center. A few of us walked over to the All Conference Reception following the Spark talks that ended around 6:00pm. One of my Wisconsin colleagues, Cindy, bought me a drink. Thanks, Cindy! And then I partook in the light appetizers, which including a mini Philly cheesesteak. Think wholesale club Philly cheesesteak.
When the clock struck 7:00pm, the party was done. This was our “chill night,” so my roommate and I walked over to Target and got a few necessities (a backpack for me; water for Jean) and then headed over to BurgerFi for dinner. BurgerFi is a quick service burger place — kind of like a Panera. It’s faster than a sit down restaurant, but not as fast as Subway.
Things I would do differently next time: skip the parties and just attend the Audio Association Publishers Dinner. Take that time in the evening to decompress. I ended up over doing it and felt tired from Wednesday night through Saturday. In fact, it’s Tuesday of the following week and I still feel tired.
Pictures from the evening’s activities: