Library Marketplace: Notes from Recent Conferences and Conventions

by John Riley, Eastern Sales Manager, BUSCA, Inc., Editor.

Book Expo America

The rapture scheduled for May 21 came and went without any noticeable effect, but it has now been rescheduled for October 21 just in time to mess with the Charleston Conference. Luckily, we sales people don’t have to worry about getting swept away  and as a bumper sticker puts it “Can I Have Your Car After the Rapture?” Book Expo America (BEA, the former ABA, American Booksellers Association Convention) held in New York City on May 23-26 was a lot like the failed rapture: books simply refused to vanish into the cloud as many prophets had predicted. BEA had a renewed energy and bustle that has been lacking for the last two years. Many of the publishers I spoke with attributed it to the new “coolness” of books in the news and in the culture.

Electronic book readers and ebooks have pumped new energy into a once moribund convention. Even with the demise of many Borders stores and many independents as well, the convention had an upbeat feel with many authors’ signings and even publishers’ parties, unheard of for the last two years of doom and gloom. International publishers were also well represented and the convention spotlighted Italy this year, last year it was Spain and next year Russia.

Another noticeable change was the presence of many librarians. They told me that the main attraction was the hands on availability of new books and also the ability to speak with authors and publishers face to face. The many free books and signings didn’t hurt either. There was a very crowded librarians’ lounge and I ran into many colleagues from the library world there.

There had once been tentative plans once to try to merge BEA with ALA, but they have fallen through, even as the date for BEA 2012 is set for May 30, through June 1, moving closer to ALA dates. BEA planners are actively seeking to attract librarians with panels and speakers geared towards their interests. For those of you who missed BEA many of its programs are now available on BookTV on the C-Span channel. Be sure to check their schedule for re-broadcasts. (

Regional ACRL Meetings

May was also a busy month for regional ACRL meetings, such as ACRL New England at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester on May 13 and the Eastern New York ACRL at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs on May 23. These one day get-togethers were perfect for networking and sharing new ideas.

ACRL New England ( used breakout sessions to focus on different issues. They even had live feeds and interaction from satellite sites at Burlington College, Vermont and Bowdoin College, Maine. I attended a very interesting presentation by Katherine M. Ruffin, Book Arts Program Director, Wellesley College. Katherine related how Amanda Nelsen, a book artist and now Director of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, along with a great support team of students and volunteers highlighted some very important sustainability issues concerning paper usage by creating a work of art from discarded copier paper. Read and be amazed by their creativity and commitment.
The ENY/ACRL (  meeting at Skidmore was equally interesting with a keynote address by James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, Columbia University.  He related how his reference services have gone almost entirely mobile with patrons even IM’ing from within the library. His library has also outsourced their overnight reference duties to libraries in Australia with a reciprocal service for them provided by Columbia during the daylight hours here.

Another interesting presentation was a series of “Lighting Rounds” consisting of five minute presentations complete with slides and Power Points. It’s amazing how much you can cram into a five minute paper and there were eight of them! One presentation was about how scanners are now replacing copiers in libraries. Students like them and librarians love not having to deal with the paper and toner problems. I particularly liked one presentation

Michael Daly & Dan Towne, Fulton-Montgomery Community College – Blurring the Lines: Building Relationships with Student-Athletes and the Athletic Department

Michael and Dan are both librarians and athletes and they took their library expertise directly to the sports department where many athletes have restricted study schedules because of travel. They were able to answer reference and search questions during workouts!

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