Monday, July 20, 2009

AJL Conference, Part 2

You can read my recap of Part One here.

Day Two of the Association of Jewish Libraries conference started bright and early with a breakfast round-table of job-seekers and those with resources to share, who met to network and exchange resources. You can see a fuller write-up of the breakfast at the AJL09 blog here.

When it came to sessions, the day was (almost) all about childrens' books and services.

I got started with Adventures in Book Reviewing: The Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee Tells All, Parts 1 and 2. Author Richard Michelson and illustrator Raul Colon (author and illustrator respectively of the Sydney Taylor winner As Good As Anybody, about the friendship between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel) each had time to talk about their book and their lives and experiences.

Following their talk, members of the committee went back and forth discussing their picks in the latest crop of Jewish kids' books. They also did a segment called "Hot-Not" during which one person would say why he or she would recommend a particular book, and then another member would say why he or she would not. It was fascinating to see different perspectives on the same books. The discussions often touched on the eternal question- "is it a Jewish book?" with opinions ranging widely. With the book Boys of Steel, about the (Jewish) creators of Superman, one committee member felt that it was a Jewish book because it was the life story of two American Jews, and part of Jewish-American history; another felt that it was not, because religion was not shown to play a major role in the lives of these particular men. It was an interesting example of the way personal priorities and agendas influence one's definition of "Jewish".

The next section of this session focused on books on the Holocaust, again with a "Hot-Not" angle. Some of the books under discussion included Ann Clare LeZotte's T4 a novel, about a deaf girl and Hitler's campaign to kill people with disabilities, as well as Irene Watts' Goodbye Marianne, a graphic novel, and Betty Joan Stuchner's Honey Cake.

During Part 2 of the session, Brooklyn Bridge author Karen Hesse spoke about her book and the extensive research she did while writing it. Then it was back to the committee and more new books for kids, this time on the topic of Israel. Barbara Sofer's Keeping Israel Safe and Allison Ofanansky's Harvest of Light were among the titles discussed. The committee also discussed new books for teens, including Gravity, by Leanne Lieberman, Nothing, by Robin Friedman and Carol Matas' The Freak.

After lunch, I attended Social Media: How I Learned about Amazing Jewish Books through Social Media, a discussion hosted by librarian and Book of Life podcaster Heidi Estrin (Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton) and Mark Blevis, podcaster at Just One More Book. They talked about blogs, podcasts and other social media outlets and encouraged audience members to learn and get involved.

The final session of the afternoon (and the conference) was professional storyteller Susan Stone's wonderful Storytelling in Jewish Libraries: Sharing the Meises. Stone put on a lively, fascinating show giving audience members really useful hints and tips about how to brighten up our storyhours with acting and enthusiasm. I was so busy paying attention and listening that I didn't take any notes but I hope I will be able to retain enough from this session to help me in my own storytimes. We had to practice telling our own family stories and break down the elements of her storytelling to articulate specific elements so we could bring them into our own work. I'm hoping this session will end up making a big difference for me!

So that's it! It was a great conference- I learned a lot, got to meet new friends and see old friends as well.


LorMil said...

It sounds as if it was a great experience!

Unknown said...

sounds like you had a good time and learned some things to use at your library.

Anna said...

Thanks for sharing! The "Hot-Not" discussions sound especially interesting.

Diary of an Eccentric

KSP said...

Hi Marie,

If you enjoyed the "Adventures in Book Reviewing" Presentation, join the committee, and it could be you up there! I will be sending out personal invitations in the near future.

Kathe Pinchuck, Chair
Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee
Association of Jewish Libraries