Librarians convening

I’ve heard that you can always tell a librarian conference by the abundance of sensible shoes and totebags. (For the record, I carried a totebag for my notebook, my novel, and my waterbottle, but I was not wearing sensible shoes.) So when I wasn’t sure exactly where to go for my registration, I followed the four ladies who fit those requirements. Sure enough, they were librarians who were there for the same program I was. As we struggled to find any signage that might point us in the right direction, I joked that if we couldn’t find the conference room, they were going to take away our jobs. “I’m sorry, but you’re just not good enough to be one of us anymore.”

The conference itself was great. It reminded me of the things I do miss just a little bit about school (not enough to even think about going back, though) – talking about ideas and books and being around people who are passionate about the same things. I get that at work, too, but on a smaller scale. This was a whole room full of women (okay, there were a few men) who like books and talking to people about them.

I have to confess that I’d expected Nancy Pearl to be a diva or something. She has these books and an action figurine (and a new Deluxe Librarian Action Figurine with a book cart! Which I want very much!) and she’s on NPR and all famous and stuff. But she was very approachable. We went to the bathroom at the same time, and I was brave enough to make a little small talk. I never do that. She was really approachable. (Also, what else are you going to do in the bathroom line?) And now I can say that I peed with Nancy Pearl. Twice, actually. She washes her hands, in case you were wondering. We also washed our hands together.

I would tell you what we talked about, but I’m pretty sure it would bore anyone who’s not a librarian. So I’ll just say that it gave me a lot of insight on why I read and why other people read. I tested my new skills on Mike yesterday, and I can tell you that while I tend to read for character and then story, he reads for story and then character. I don’t think I could recommend books to anyone yet, but I’m a lot farther along in the whole process than I was. And it was really fun to hear that all the speakers feel the same panic that we mere mortals do when someone asks us for a book recommendation. And they probably get it lots more than I do.

In more interesting news, Michael Parker, a North Carolina author and UNCG instructor, spoke at lunch, and his short story made me laugh and almost made me cry. I bought his latest novel for Mike (it being Mike’s birthday and all) and got it signed. If it’s half as good as the short story he read, well, he’s definitely going to be high on my list. The short story was wonderful. It’s called “Hidden Meanings: Treatment of Time, Supreme Irony, and Life Experiences in the Song ‘Ain’t Gonna Bump No More No Big Fat Woman’” and is featured in New Stories from the South 2005. He’s speaking at UNCG tonight, and we’re trying to decide if we want to go.

The highlight of the day, for me, was when we came back from lunch and found that everyone at the conference got their very own Librarian Action Figure. Of course, I already had one, but it wasn’t in the package anymore, so I hadn’t brought it for her to sign. This one, though, I’m going to leave in the packaging. And she signed it, “To Kari – Book Lust forever! -Nancy Pearl.” I told her that several of my friends had bought me one when I graduated, and that they were excited I was coming to see her today. She was so sweet and gracious. It was a real treat to get to hear her speak.

And today is back to work as usual.

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