Last night, I was tossing and turning in bed. My brain was racing with thoughts. Shocker, right? This morning was also full of tossing and turning and thoughts rattling around in my brain. All these thoughts were centered around ALA, conferences and book blogger behavior. And while I realize that I am probably not the best person to write a post on professionalism (come on, you all know me), I thought I would take a crack at it anyways because this is starting to become something I really care about.
Image is everything.
Look you guys, book blogging is a relatively new part of the book industry. We are changing the landscape. People in the industry perceive us in a variety of ways. Personally, I want to be perceived as a no-holds barred person who is passionate about books. I want to be taken seriously. Yet, when you act like an animal at an event, when you hoard books, when you treat librarians who pay hundreds compared to the pocket change of $25 to go to a professional event MEANT FOR THEM like second class citizens, when publishers refer to us as locusts, that reflects badly on me. That reflects badly on the whole community.
It is not fair. I get that. But people will judge our community based on the actions of one or a few bloggers. It’s why when you take multiple copies at an event like ALA when librarians are in PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT meetings and committees people start to assume that bloggers are grabby. Look, this needs to be said — when one blogger pushes and shoves and fights for a copy – that reflects on all of us. People will look at that blogger and dismiss the rest of us. You can whine and complain about how that person does not affect your image until the cows come home, but the sad fact is some people will make judgements about our community based on the actions of some people.
Attending events like ALA and BEA are a privilege for bloggers. The conference organizers, at least for ALA, do not have to have those events open to the public. ALA does not have to charge only $25 for bloggers to get in. If enough librarians are concerned about blogger behavior or are vocal about it to the board — that could mean the closing of ALA to non-professionals, because those of us who are not librarians are not entitled to be there. Again, this is where you need to THINK about how your actions come across. When you are grabbing stacks and stacks and stacks of books, people are watching. People who actually have a stake in ALA. People who form opinion based on that one grabby person. And look, I know I am repeating myself over and over, but I want to drive that point home.
How can we be considered legitimate if we can’t even act professionally at events? If we don’t take the concerns of librarians and industry professionals running the event seriously? When there is concern about people taking extras for giveaway to promote their blog, I think we need to listen. I don’t think there’s a call to be dismissive. I think that we need to take a good, long hard look at ourselves in the mirror. I think we need to acknowledge those concerns. Maybe that means an apology. Maybe it means making reparations and donating books to the library. Maybe it means considering your actions at every conference you attend. Maybe it means you should know better if it isn’t your first conference.
Maybe I am not the best person to write this post because let’s face it, I have a flair for the dramatic. Yet, that does not stop me from caring about how I am perceived, about how my community is perceived to people outside of it. I spend ball park 20-30 hours a week on my blog. Yes, yes, I know I need a life outside of this. So, maybe that is why I feel so invested in this. Maybe that is why I feel so critical of our behavior. Because I don’t want my blood, sweat, and tears to be for nothing. I don’t want my entire community to be seen as ARC hungry hoards. Because yes, this does affect me, because it affects our image.
That stated, I want to make some reparations. My local library does not have a teen group and does not accept ARCs. I have a bag full (not from ALA, I did not go) that my boyfriend was supposed to drop off at the library near where he works, but it sounds like he will never do it. Librarians, if you are interested in some YA/MG arcs and a few finished copies for your teens and your teen programs please email me – I would like to send you a few. I know it does not completely diminish what you witnessed, but it is a start.
That said, friends, how can we be part of the solution?
Also, Kelly of Stacked has a fantastic post about what librarians do with ARCs, being a book blogger and a librarian and ALA. I think you need to read it because it is eloquent and brings up excellent points.
If you’d like to learn more about professionalism, book blogging, networking, and publishing – might I recommend looking into Book Blogger Convention.
Via Pam’s suggestion – If you’d like to truly support ALA, you can buy a membership in ALA or YALSA. Here’s a link with more information on how to join.