Like my buddy and fellow Cozy Chick, Kate Collins, I was signing at the Penguin Publishing Group booth at the American Library Association's annual convention this last weekend in Chicago. What fun! Librarians are my favorite people, so being surrounded by thousands of them is a real treat. Signing books and chatting with all the great folks who visited me Saturday morning was a thrill.
But what really impressed me was the sheer numbers of librarians in the McCormick Place West convention center on Saturday. Wow! I wasn't kidding when I said "surrounded by thousands" of libarians. There were librarians everywhere. Filling every aisle between the myriad publisher and vendor booths, clustering in the cafes (heck.....crowding every cafe is more like it), riding the escalators, lining up for signings, lining up for Starbucks (took me twenty minutes to get a hot tea), sitting on the floors, sprawled on the floors, pounding on their laptops, checking their emails, clustered together eating lunch and snacks while chatting AND checking emails. Everywhere. No exaggeration.
I found that really reassuring. This is a troubled economy, to put it mildly. But our libaries around the country still found the funds to send their libarians and representatives to their annual convention of several days. I asked some of the librarians who came to my signing if they had seen an increase in library usage since the recession. Each one gave an emphatic "yes." That is wonderful. Our libaries have SO much information and help and opportunities for people to get through this difficult time. I can't say enough good about them.
I used the publisher signing opportunity to visit old friends who live in the suburban Chicago area, so that was an added treat. Plus, I had a wonderful signing at Gene Ann's Knitting Shop in Barriangton (Chicago suburb) where I made some new friends.
And---I made another new friend on the way into Chicago Saturday morning. My friends dropped me off at the Barrington train station (Metra system) which runs into downtown Chicago. While standing on the platform, I met a great gal who was going to ALA as well. Julie is the Business Manager for a suburban Chicago library. Well, we talked the entire hour on the train into Chicago, thru a quick cafe breakfast, and taxi ride to convention center. And now, I feel like I have a great new friend. And she even invited me to visit her Waukonda Public Library and speak next year when I visit my old friends again.
Have you made any new friends this week?