Thursday, May 8, 2008

MLA, Day Two

Well today was not as hectic as yesterday!
I attended three sessions- "Genre Block:Fantasy", "Liberating the Reading Habits of Children", and "Genre Block:Street Lit". All were excellent.

Writer Elizabeth Haydon, author of The Floating Island and The Symphony of Ages series, was the featured speaker at the Fantasy panel, along with librarians Bonnie Kunzel and Susan Fichtelberg. Haydon gave a very moving speech about the importance of fantasy literature as both a link to the past and a way to open the door to imagination for children. I am a confirmed literary snob and she even had me wanting to read fantasy by the end! The librarians offered helpful information about both the background of the genre and information on upcoming releases. They talked about the trend around romance in fantasy and the influence of women writers on the genre. Neat stuff.

The next panel, "Liberating the Reading Habits of Children" featured a panel discussion with Maggie Bush, LIS professor at Simmons and children's librarian extraordinaire, and Roger Sutton, editor in chief of the Horn Book, the premier review journal of children's literature. It was an interesting discussion of the competing needs of children and parents to access and monitor information and books in the library.

Finally for me was "Genre Block: Street Lit," about the phenomenal rise and popularity of urban fiction. Writer Tracy Brown, author of White Lines and the about-to-be-released Twister, was the featured author. Two librarians from the Boston Public Library system, Sara Slymon and Carin O'Connor, offered insights into the history and popularity of the genre. Seminal works like Sister Souljah's The Coldest Winter Ever and Iceberg Slim's Pimp were discussed. Brown was a very appealing speaker who gave a great talk about the trajectory of her life and her love of writing and reading. I'm looking forward to reading her new book. I went to a talk about street lit at ALA last year and I'm glad I came back for this talk this year, for the opportunity to hear Brown and for the very nice research that Slymon did on the history and development of the genre.

That was it for me for MLA this year, apart from some galley-gathering and meeting-and-greeting. I wish I could have stayed for tomorrow but I have more library business to attend to in the morning with the regional meeting of the Association of Jewish Libraries. Off to look at all my new treasures now!