Jennie M. Bragaw


July 3 2014

I’m not a Vegas person. The last time I was in Vegas was supposed to be my last time in Vegas. But, I must say, attending the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Sin City on July 27th through the 30th was a breath of fresh air. It was hot…the kind of hot that melts chocolate in your purse and causes you to feel lightheaded if you stay outside too long. Fortunately, the good folks at the Las Vegas Convention Center had the air conditioning cranked.

I have never in my life seen such an enormous collection of book people: librarians, educators, authors, illustrators, researchers, publishers, and just all around book geeks. I met some truly gifted artists, like Josh Hanagarne, author of The World’s Strongest Librarian, from Salt Lake City, UT. He is 6’7″ tall and can bench press a bus, so I think he is entitled to the title of his book. During his talk, one of the daring librarians asked him about his “book tattoo” that runs the length of his spine, and the crowd cajoled him into removing his shirt to show us the stack of books tattooed on his back.

It was also good to reconnect with some Latino authors that I met at the Latino Book and Family Festival and at Libraria Martinez de Chapman University. Congratulations to Victor Gonzalez, Award Winning Author of Insurgency: 1968 Aztec Walkout, which won the International Latino Book Award. Congratulations also to Arturo Toledo, author of The Dog That Became a Lion, a wonderful children’s book, which also won an award. Congratulations to Sylvia Mendoza, author of The Book of Latina Women, which was also honored at the ALA Conference, and deservedly so.

I met some very talented illustrators and authors, like Don Tate, a children’s book author and illustrator, Meg Wolitzer, author of Belzhar, Adi Alsaid, author of Let’s Get Lost, and many, many other wonderful people.

The stars of the show, though, were the amazing librarians who shared their passion for learning, reading, and sharing information. I truly admire and respect these intelligent, giving souls for the work they do, and encourage you to visit your library to see how it has evolved in the information age in which we live. Contact your city counsel member, county supervisor, state assembly member, and Congressional representative to make sure that in these tight budget times that libraries do not get the short straw when it comes to funding. Education is a matter of national security, and the librarians are on the front lines of this effort.

Next year the American Library Association will be meeting in San Francisco, and I look forward to putting flowers in my hair and joining the book people in the City by the Bay.

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