Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for August: (8/3) Dianne Freeman (8/10) Daryl Wood Gerber (8/17) E. B. Davis's Review of Granite Oath, James M. Jackson's new novel (8/24) Rose Kerr (8/31) V. M. Burns.

Monday, March 9, 2020

PLA Diary

by Shari Randall

The common pronunciation of the Public Library Association’s acronym is P-L-A, very close to the word “play.” I attended the PLA Conference in Nashville last week and if you like books, libraries, and authors, the conference is a playground of ideas.

Sisters in Crime Cari Dubiel, VM Burns, and me
The speakers - Tracy Abrams, Samantha Bee, Soledad O’Brien, Haben Girma, Erik Larson, Dr. Bettina Love, Ann Patchett -- were inspiring, informative, and intriguing. The field trips (tours of the Nashville Public Library, Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium), scores of panels, and book buzz presentations served up ideas as enticing and filling as the brisket at Martin’s BBQ. Panels ranged from serious subjects like serving patrons with dementia, information literacy, and the dark web, to making recycled book flowers and how to have a library cat.

Then there were the unofficial events…bull riding at Old Smoky, art crawls, hockey meet ups. Some in the Nashville media were taken aback by the fun loving nature of the conference attendees, but anyone who knows librarians wasn’t surprised. Librarians are a fun-loving bunch.

Free ARCS and author signings were everywhere. The eight thousand five hundred librarians were enticed into the Exhibit Hall by giveaways of tote bags printed with “Audio books are not cheating” and “My weekend is all booked,” free espresso, Plinko for prizes, and milk and cookies.

Ravenclaws rule!
Book stacks everywhere
Alana White with librarians from Kenya

One exhibit featured a program that makes it look like you’ve stepped into the world of Harry Potter. Depending on one’s Hogwarts “house,” a visitor to the booth can step into a simulation of a scene from the HP universe. Through computer magic, Ravenclaws like me were able to visit the Hogwarts library.

Because PLA was in Nashville, country music filled the air and country stars – or their lookalikes -- were everywhere. Conferencegoers could have their pics taken with “Dolly” and “Johnny.” The Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Old Opry, and Music Row were all steps away.

I organized the Sisters in Crime booth and was pleased to meet so many volunteers from not only the local Tennessee chapters but also authors who traveled from around the country to help spread the word about SINC. The best part was all the ideas exchanged and connections made. 

The day after I returned home I heard the awful news about the Nashville tornadoes. From what I saw of the people of Nashville, I know they’ll pull together to make whole the city they love. I was proud to know that PLA was one of the first organizations to reach out to the city to offer help. If you’d like to help, here’s a link:

What’s your favorite conference? Why do you love it?


Annette said...

I helped man our local Sisters in Crime chapter's booth at a Pennsylvania Library event a couple of years ago. So much fun and so many books!

I fell in love with Nashville several years ago when I went for Killer Nashville. My heart breaks for those who lost so much in the tornado.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I'm excited for Killer Nashville this summer.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Annette, I fell hard for Nashville, too. The only good news is that friends there say the community is really rallying around those who have lost their homes.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Margaret,
I've heard people love KN! I have to check it out!

KM Rockwood said...

I love going to conferences and seeing people I otherwise only "see" on line.

These days, I don't get to as many as I'd like, but I hope to get to some in the near future. Malice Domestic is tops on my list.

Susan said...

I love that book stack. There's nothing like going to a conference with other people who love and cherish books!