AC16_LOGO_RGB300x300Every summer, thousands of librarians and other bibliophiles meet at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference. This year, it’s in Orlando (yeah…) and like years past, “ALA Annual” will host feature numerous creators, publishers, and panels relating to comics, gaming, and all the other geekery stuff that kids who hang out in libraries enjoy passionately!

It’s mostly a trade show, with a lot of Professional Development offered so that attendees can return to their localities and advocate at their local library. Yet it also features events and book signings, because librarians are also fans as well.

Me… I’m a stealth librarian, working for my corporate overlords, so I’m attending on my own dime. But I’ll have fun, I’ll finally geek out at Disney World (including the Utilidors!), and I’ll hang out with friends.

That said, here’s the basics! If you’re a creator, consider joining Artist Alley next year in Chicago! Or asking your publisher to schedule a panel or signing!

The Basics

You can view the floor plan here…  If you’ve attended before, Artist Alley, the Graphic Novel Stage, and all the other “cool kids” stuff is on the far left-hand side of the Exhibits floor (Aisles Four and Five).  The Zine Pavilion (which includes mini-comics) is at Booth 751, towards the back.

Publishers REALLY market to librarians, even more than they do at Book Expo America! Books will be on sale, and there will be numerous booth signings all three days. (Get in line now… Raina Telgemeier will be signing advance, full-color advance copies of Ghosts!) There will be many graphic novel publishers in attendance, as well as the mainstream publishers with GN titles.

Is this open to the public? Not really.  But… When I attended the conference in Anaheim, there was a volleyball tournament in Hall E downstairs. Some of those athletes discovered there was a book show going on, bought the “Exhibits Only” pass, and perused the publishers’ booths after they were finished competing.


Here’s a handy grid with synopses.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

Artist Alley

From comic books to games and graphic novels, Artist Alley includes the best from all genres. Meet many of today’s leading artists, illustrators, and creators of comics, games, and graphic novels and enjoy their original work.

Be sure to also enjoy the ERT/Christopher J. Hoy Scholarship and Artist Alley Silent Auction. The auction features original work donated by Artist Alley participants as well as numerous quilts donated by the ALA BiblioQuilters and friends of ERT. Plan to stop by during the conference and make note that bidding ends Sunday at 4:45pm.

Is there an AA list?

Exhibitor Name Booth

A nice, diverse list of artists and illustrators!


Exhibitor Name Booth

Other publishers, such as Abrams, Penguin Random House, and Scholastic, will be found elsewhere on the show floor.

Gaming / Graphic Novel Pavilion

This fun pavilion links suppliers of educational and recreational games and graphic novels with librarians and industry professionals looking to implement related programs and materials. This is a pavilion not to miss—many libraries have reported increased use after implementing gaming programs.

Gaming Lounge

An oasis of gaming amidst the sea of exhibits. Stop by the Gaming Lounge to explore game resources for your library programs. Join the GameRT for open gaming from the their library of game resources, sit down for demos from leading game publishers or explore poster and sharing sessions from other librarians that are exploring and implementing successful gaming programs in their library spaces.

Right next to the graphic novel booths! Take a break, test a new game!

Zine Pavilion

Zines offer a unique way for libraries to expand their print connections and connect with their communities in a time when so much of our work is going digital. Handmade publications that can cover any subject, many zines represent perspectives rarely covered in other print media. Their celebration of print culture may seem anachronistic, but zines offer a range of programming opportunities for youth and adults alike. This pavilion includes Zine creators, librarians who manage zine collections and a display of topical zines which will be raffled off to a library at the close of the exhibits.

Remember mini-comics? (Back before scanners replaced photocopiers…)   The Zine Pavilion keeps the tradition of micro-publishing alive!

What else is happening?

Oh, just a civil rights activist promoting his memoir.

March with Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell: A Celebration of NEH’s 50th Anniversary

Saturday, June 25
9:30 AM – 10:30 AM
HYATT Regency Orlando, Room Regency Ballroom S
This, of course, was scheduled months ago, before the historic events in Orlando and the House of Representatives occurred. Congressman Lewis has visited ALA many times in the past (I briefly met him in Las Vegas a few years ago), and it is always … awe inspiring to meet an historical figure. You read about superheroes so many times, but when you actually get to meet one…
However, that ballroom only seats 1.340, so I’m certain people will be staging their own “sit-in” to get places.
The night before, in the same space:

ALA Play

Friday, June 24
7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
HYATT Regency Orlando, Room Regency Ballroom S
Yup, librarians love to play, and many libraries offer game nights! This is an annual tradition, similar to the gaming ballrooms found at most science fiction conventions: lots of ballroom tables, each featuring a game people can play. There’s also a raffle later, and it’s a nice way to start the conference.
And earlier on Friday:

Graphic Novel Friday Forum – Fandom: All Access for Comics

Friday, June 24
12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Orange County Convention Center, Room W414CD
Once reserved solely for geeks and nerds, fandom is now a huge part of the media we consume and can be accessed by all. Fandom is the entry point for readers and viewers to see themselves and if they can’t find themselves, they create representation. All of this is especially true with fandom for graphic novels and comic books. This discussion forum will explore how fandom can be leveraged in libraries to strengthen relationships with library patrons, publishers and creators, enhance library programming and inspire an entire new generation of graphic novel writers and artists.
 Want more??!

ALA Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grant Presentations and Reception (By Invitation Only)

Saturday, June 25
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Rosen Plaza, Room Ballroom C
Every year, the Eisner Foundation awards two grants to libraries: “the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grant will provide support to a library that would like to expand its existing graphic novel services and programs and the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant will provides support to a library for the initiation of a graphic novel service, program or initiative.”
Part of that grant is a stipend to attend the conference and be honored, and so ALA hosts their own version of Bar-Con, but with better food and drink (and swag bags!)
If you’re a library and want to learn more about the grants:

The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants: How to Submit a Winning Proposal

Sunday, June 26
10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Orange County Convention Center, Room W307D
Other programs:

Making Graphic Novels for Fun and Profit

Saturday, June 25
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Orange County Convention Center, Room W104
Creating comics, at its bones, is pretty basic: get yourself a story, some paper, something to draw with, a photocopy machine or website, and go nuts. But what if you want to get it published by one of the major publishing houses? Hear from graphic novel publishers as they talk about the ups and downs of buying, editing, marketing, and selling long-form comics.
Need help building a collection?

ERT Program: Celebrating Fandom: Building a Robust Graphic Novel Collection

Sunday, June 26
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Orange County Convention Center, Room W300
Collection Development Librarian Alicia Ahlvers, Henrico County Public Library will moderate a panel on how to build a robust graphic novel collection for your library. Topics that will be discussed are Age Appropriateness, Back Filling Missing Volumes, Trends in Graphic Novels, Manga and Gaming. Representatives from Kodansha Comics, DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics also be on the panel. Lots of Q & A time built into the program.
…and if you’d like some suggestions on what to read and buy, the Young Adult librarians will be discussing titles for inclusion in YALSA’s  2017 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list.
Sunday, June 26   8:30 AM – 11:30 AM   Rosen Plaza, Room Salon 01
Monday, June 27   8:30 AM – 5:30 PM   Rosen Plaza, Room Salon 01
That’s the highlights. Diamond Bookshelf, Diamond’s librarian resource, has a nice pocket reference of all the geekiness. You could easily attend just for comics, and find your time occupied completely. Of course, there’s lots of other stuff to see and do…  a bookmobile display, the awards banquet, and if you’re really bored, you can get lost in a good book.