Wednesday, November 27, 2013

ALAN, and AASL, actually

I just came back from my fifth consecutive ALAN conference. The first time I attended, I wrote about it for the AASL Blog, and most of what I said in 2009 still holds:
ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English, just concluded its annual workshop in Philadelphia, but media specialists interested in young adult literature should mark their calender for next year’s conference in Orlando and consider some of the many opportunities for participating in this vibrant organization in the mean time.
This year more than sixty YA authors — ranging from some of the industry’s established luminaries to up-and-coming writers — spoke over the two-day ALAN event. Autograph hounds will particularly appreciate the ample opportunities to collect inscriptions during “silent signings” simultaneous with readings and presentations. Dozens of copies of recent and forthcoming books were generously provided by publishers.
Annual ALAN membership, included with conference registration, is only $20 a year for individuals and includes a subscription to the ALAN Review journal. The journal’s editors are interested in practitioner contributions for the ALAN Review‘s new “Stories from the Field” feature, designed to share anecdotes about teaching and learning through literature, told in 300-words-or-less stories.
ALAN also sponsors the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. This year’s award winner was Steven Kluger for his quirky My Most Excellent Year. The Walden award panel includes a dedicated position for a school librarian.
For school librarians interested in attending next year’s ALAN workshop (which piggybacks off the NCTE conference the weekend before Thanksgiving), theGallo Grant provides $500 in funding for first-time attendees to defray the cost of registration and travel. The application for funding is due September 1.
The rumor is that next year ALAN and NCTE will both be in the D.C. suburbs. I'd be loathe to miss it, it's the best reader's advisory update I know. It was especially fun to see some of my high school librarian colleagues, attending for the first time, responding to the general madness of the workshop.

As I'm working on planning our Alabama Library Association conferences for the next two years, I've been thinking A LOT about how to structure a great learning and netowrking experience. I was really pleased with a lot of the wrinkles at this year's AASL in Hartford, too -- informal events in the evening, in particular, which I know I would have loved having as an option as a first-timer. I actually was able to go to all seven concurrent sessions at AASL, but there were ample other opportunities as an outgrowth of the formal learning. The e-collab access cans session for just-in-time access after the event, and the Learning Commons space provided a less-structured place to share. Every time I passed the Commons, I saw people I knew talking. I think it's those conversations that keep people coming back. I'm already looking forward to the ALA Midwinter meeting. Stay tuned for more news on the USBBY event there, too.

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