Saturday, April 04, 2009

Texas Library Association Conference 2009

I spent the last three days in the company of men and women who strive daily to make information and literature available to the widest audience possible. Librarians seek to expand their patrons' horizons and supply materials and resources for them in all their endeavors. The Texas Library Association has been supporting these efforts since 1902.

The TLA exhibit hall was full of companies offering online information resources, foreign language instruction packages, library management software and library furnishings. Publishers display new fiction and nonfiction titles while authors sign books and maintain cheerful smiles for fans who queue for their few moments of face time. Apparel vendors supply garments and jewelry that promote reading and librarians in sparkling rhinstones, applique or embroidery.

Gifted storytellers, musicians, authors, illustrators discuss their work in presentations that were thoughtfully prepared and shared.

I've been attending TLA for well over a decade now (good gad!) and the opportunity to visit with other librarians and connect with old friends and acquaintances is utterly refreshing and revitalizing.

Unlike a grade level teacher, school librarians are often "lone rangers" on their campus. They must constantly add new content and new lessons to their programs. Some projects repeat from year to year but there are always new stories to share and new technologies to add their students' information skills.

I know budgets are tight and schedules are full but I find the benefits of attending this conference are worth sacrifices. It contributes to my growth as a professional and to my sense of belonging to a community that is truly committed to a noble purpose.


Carol Baicker-McKee said...

I've never been to TLA, but I have a friend who attends regularly and says it's the best.

I enjoy your blog, and thank you for all your hard work on behalf of the rest of us.

Now please forgive my non sequitur comment. I'm a children's book author and illustrator on a mission to save vintage children's books, which are under threat from a law that went into effect in February. Under the CPSIA, or toy lead law, no products intended for children 12 and under can contain lead (above a low level that will be dropping further over the next year and a half). Unfortunately, books printed in 1984 or earlier sometimes had small amounts of lead in the inks. The books are only dangerous to children if they eat them (mouthing is okay), but because they might have some ink, it is now illegal to sell, give away or otherwise distribute (like from a library or school) any of these old children's books, unless they are rare, adult-only collectibles.

Congress is not showing any willingness to amend the law, and I (and many others) fear these old, loved books will simply disappear. The vast majority of older children's books are out of print in any form and so will not be preserved for future generations to enjoy. The books are safe -I'd give them to my own kids (or future grandkids, as my kids are past the target age) without hesitation.

You can learn more about this law and how it affects children's books at,,,, and my blog,, as well as from articles in Publisher's Weekly (here's the link to the most recent article about it - you can get to the others from it:

Sorry for such a long, intrusive post. But if more people don't join the fight, old books are just going to fade away. Congress so far is not interested in making any changes to the law.


Entling No. 1 said...

But did you add to your puppet collection? Dragon needs more friends!

BookMoot said...

I have been reading about this issue. Were they working on a compromise or change in the law? I am trying to remember what I read about it last.

laneerg said...

I have not had the opportunity to attend the TLA yet, but hope to be able to attend the next one.

I am planning on getting my Master's in Library Sciences from UNT-Denton's online program, with certification to be a school librarian. I hope to start either this summer or this spring.

I would love any tips you might have for someone who is looking to begin a career as a school librarian. :)

jone said...

Some day I am going to attend. Sounds fun and informative.