Any excuse to go to West Chester, PA, is a good excuse to me. West Chester is a lovely college town with a ton of history, lovely buildings, awesome downtown, great book stores such as Armadillo Books and Chester County Book Company, the fantastic West Chester Public Library, and so far, has great food. My trek to West Chester on Saturday, August 21st, though was to visit the PA to YA Festival which was next to the University.
The PA to YA Festival was an event hosted to help raise money to give to librarians to build YA collections and to get books into the hands of librarians (as I understand it). It was also a great event to meet up with authors and bloggers, partake in the book sale, and maybe win some raffle prizes.
Basically, I’ve known about the Bring YA to PA initiative for months after accidentally finding it from, well, “blog surfing.” As a librarian, I was a bit surprised this initiative has existed for a while and I had yet to hear of it in my three official years as a Teen Person. As to the event, when I first saw hints of it, I had thought “YAY! But it is in Philly and I refuse to drive in Philly.” When I saw it was in West Chester, I thought “I’m SO going” and my schedule actually allowed me to!
The event itself was enjoyable and for arriving late (1:30 PM or so) there was still enough for me to feel that I hadn’t missed much. I do regret not partaking in the raffles, but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to pay for chances or not. I also regret not bringing my ARC of Watersmeet to finally get it signed by Ellen Jensen Abbott, but I did get to catch up with her. That was probably the first highlight.
The second highlight was the room for librarians. Yes, a room for librarians. With books. Lotsa lotsa books. The librarian that traveled with me was excited to learn that she could take 20 books back to her library to put into the collection. For her, this is perfect as her library seems to have spent a good portion of their book budget, which means, technically, no new YA. This situation also was perfect for her since I’m somehow this walking encyclopedia of what is popular and what is not, what the book is probably about, and how the reviews for the books were, both blogosphere and professional (re: Voya). This in and of itself, is the most useful part to librarians here in Pennsylvania because of all the budget cuts happening. I’m not going to go into it here but you can read more here (PA Library Association).
But here is the only downside to the festival that I noticed: Many authors and bloggers, very few librarians. From my own library system, I ran into only one other person and not in Youth Services. From there, I only ran into a total of maybe 2 or 3 more library people. West Chester has perfect access to three library systems and for surrounding areas, West Chester is only an hour to a few hours’ drive to there. I can only blame myself for not seeing more Library System people since I didn’t send out an e-mail. Bad, bad me. I also may have missed people because I was half an hour late, but I did stay the whole time so I keep thinking I should have seen some friends!
Except for that small issue, I enjoyed the event and am hopeful and excited for the possibility at the event next year. My only hope for next year is that the venue is 1.) bigger and/or 2.) has an area for socializing as everyone kind of just fell into places in the tiny hallway between the rooms.
For librarians, it would have been the perfect event to get favorite books signed, network and socialize, and pick out books for their libraries and some ARCs for themselves. For bloggers and authors, I could tell that it was a great social event. I hope that the organizer (Harmony) behind the event saw this as a successful event and I’m sure that the money raised Saturday, from a large amount to even the smallest amount, will help the libraries who need it. We librarians are quite the thankful bunch. I just love the fact that this exists to help supplement YA Services in PA.
Pennsylvanian librarians, I urge you, that the moment you find out when this event happens in 2011, clear your calendar (like you do for your conferences). I know I will find a way to attend next year for the authors not signed up yet, the book sale, and maybe I’ll be able to socialize a little more. This is just too nifty of an event to miss out and it is so rare to have an event like this that I can actually drive to!