Our first day at ALA was Saturday, instead of the Friday it should have been (United Airlines cancelled our flight and it took some scrambling, on our part, to get here at all. An ‘F’ to United on customer service.). No longer just visitors walking and floor and schmoozing, we have booth setup to learn how to manage. Losing a day is certainly one of the things we don’t want to happen again, but with good spirit and a lot of hard work we were looking okay by the afternoon, with Berkshire water bottles going fast (Russian librarians were thrilled to see that we had the word ‘water’ in many languages printed on the bottles, including theirs: ‘wodka’).
The highpoint of Saturday evening was meeting Sara Paretsky at the Booklist 100th anniversary party. I greeted Mary Ellen Quinn, Booklist‘s Reference Books Bulletin editor and then recognized the woman standing with her. Only hours before, as we were driving into Chicago, I’d said, “All I know about Chicago I learned from reading Sara Paretsky’s mysteries.” (Gritty urban neighborhoods and fading communities, shining Gold Coast restaurants, and well-written stories with a strong social conscience.) We talked about the vitality of cities, and struggling communities, in, I’m afraid, the glittering surroundings of a lovely restaurant…I’m glad to know, though, a growing number of people involved in creating books and spreading the word about them who care about making the world a better place.