Book Expo for Librarians

Book Expo America Adventures- Episode 2, BEA14 From a Librarian’s Perspective

(Episode one covered travel/tourism of NYC)

I will disclose right away that I am a VIP Librarian.  Book Expo has never told me why I was selected, but they give me a free four day ticket to BEA and have done so for the last three years.  I have no idea why, exactly.  Was there a random selection? Because I’m a director?  Was it because I was given a professional’s ticket for NY Comic Con?  Did I blog something?  Maybe I shouldn’t say anything in case they look it over and say, hey now, why DID we give that lady VIP status?  I am one of those aliens in Toy Story.  “oooooo.  The claw!  You have been chosen!”


They have this neat little area for VIPs where you can sit down and enjoy coffee, internet computers and random selections of food, just like the staff room in any library.  They make a list of vendors to visit and if you collect 15 signatures, you are entered into a raffle. The woman at the counter did not like the term “scavenger hunt” that I used.  I enjoyed the gamification of wandering the show floor.

P1090916This was not the only place I felt important.  On the show floor there is also the Librarian’s Lounge, a little island for librarians to be amongst their own.  They have refreshments (I kept missing them, but there was evidence they had once been there) and exclusive author signings.  I got my advance copy of Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid signed. The lounge is sponsored by Library Journal.

Librarians come to Book Expo for several reasons.  The first one is obvious, to get away from their library.  The second is to learn about upcoming books, new vendors, authors, trends and technologies. The third is for knowledge- new ideas, new perspectives and to diversify their world view.

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I immensely enjoyed the AAP Librarian’s Luncheon, where I got to see Cary Elwes, Kathy Reichs, Deborah Harkness, Matt Richtel and Garth Stein, get signed copies of their ARCs and have a very tasty packaged lunch.  Kathy Reichs has never seen Princess Bride.  She also referred to her young adult science fiction series as a fantasy.  I forgive her, because she actually counted how many people left after Cary stopped talking.  27.

I was so upset for coming in 15 minutes late to the Worst Social Media Advice ever.  Having to get all the way across Manhattan took longer than I thought.  The panel was just… so much bad advice.  Tor covered it and posted a small video segment.  I took a picture of my favorite slide, because it’s so meta.  This is going to go viral!


I love unshelved- the comic strip really captures what working in a library is like.  It’s Dilbert for Librarians.  Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum presented a panel called Too Much Information.  There was a lot of joking around and references to sex, but their final advice hit like an arrow through a coconut-wielding servant’s heart.  Stop trying to reinvent the library and go back to our roots.  Be an authority, curate quality and stop trying to please everyone with everything.


As well as Publishers presenting what they are coming out with during their “Book Buzz” panels, there is the Librarian’s shout and share.  This is a wild free-for-all with the audience being pelted with chocolate when they stopped paying attention, and much offers of vodka to all.  The presenters had searched the floor for things they wanted to see, and held up pictures, arcs and iPads showing their finds while describing them.  I am impressed with their eclectic tastes and sheer voracity for books.



I think the thing I found most useful personally was the presentation about LibraryReads.  We as librarians need to help the good books rise to the top, not just the celebrity or “bestselling” thrillers, but books that move us, resonate with us.  We can give books the “library bump” and get them known.  So libraries across the country are nominating 10 books that are coming out that month as the best adult fiction and nonfiction, and anyone who works in a library can contribute by voting and by creating blurb reviews for each nomination.  What I learned is that you can become a reviewer and possibly have your quick blurb picked up by newspapers starving for book reviews.

There was much at BEA for librarians, even though it is not a librarian’s show, really.  We are not the main focus, that honor is given to booksellers and publishers.

(up next, Episode 3, BEA for writers and readers)

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