Friday, May 10, 2013

Professional Development

So, the American Library Association 2013 Annual Conference is being held in Chicago this year.

Even though it's a hairsbreadth outside my domain as an English instructor, I may add it to my professional development activities this year. Why? Because of this:

Unbeknownst to me (and even to some of my library buddies), the track of sessions on graphic books at the ALA conference has grown so much that since last year they have been branding it as a mini-comicon within the conference. The purpose of the focus is to help ALA members "innovate and raise the profile of graphic novels and comics in their library or school." Yeah! While librarians, particularly public YA librarians, have been at the forefront of mainstreaming comics since the beginning, I had no idea that even the library establishment has embraced graphic books so strongly.

GraphiCon features an Artist Alley, with guests including Gene Yang, Chris Giarrusso, Faith Erin Hicks, Paul Pope, and many others; the Graphic Novel Stage for author talks and creator sessions; and a Graphic Novel Pavilion. The conference sessions look pretty cool, too; here's a sampling:

Busting the Comics Code: Comics, Censorship, and Librarians

Get Graphic in the Library: Celebrate timeless superheroes and villains of Graphic Novels and the art of ensuring their timelessness throughout the ages.

Krosoczka! TenNapel! Telgemeier! Graphic Novels Your Kids Love By Names You Can’t Pronounce.

Let's talk comics: A roundtable discussion with a line-up of comics creators and professionals, librarians and others

Comics Quickfire! A fast-paced game show where volunteers are paired off with professional cartoonists in a series of fun-filled drawing challenges!

Why do you make graphic novels? (And how can I do it too?)

Looks to me like the perfect intersection of professional development activities and personal avocation.

Postscript: Of course, if this is to be a permanent feature (which it looks to be), I can always look forward to the 2014 venue: Las Vegas. The story, according to a librarian pal, is that "they last had the conference in Vegas in the 80's and haven't been back because so many people didn't make it to their committee or even presentation commitments because they were partying too hard!" Librarians gone wild!

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