Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ALA Midwinter Wrap-Up

We hit the convention center in San Diego for the mid-winter ALA. Many from colder climates across North America reveled in the warmth, the sunshine, and the stands of palm trees.

Our booth

While numbers were down (by 14% according to official reports), we met many enthusiastic librarians who offered genuine encouragement for the titles on display. It’s always inspiring and gratifying to meet librarians face-to-face, where we can get their direct feedback. There was particular interest in Africans Thought of It, along with other Africana titles. We had a steady flow of traffic throughout the convention schedule, which we attribute in part to our excellent location. We were able to connect with librarians who were not as familiar with Annick Press, which is the benefit of a conference which moves into different regions of the country.

Laverne Page from the Library of Congress poses with our Africa-themed books

Sadly, we encountered librarians and teachers who were struggling with budget cuts. One teacher told us that she hadn’t had a single dollar for book purchases in the last three years. We also heard about librarians who financed their own travel to the convention, some from great distances. We all know how short-sighted it is to make cuts to libraries and to book purchases, which impacts reading. We can only hope the economic picture improves soon, but fewer library staff, shorter hours, and reduced book buying will carry long-term consequences.

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