Special ALA: How to tell Librarians from Vendors

27 Jun

Here reporting live from ALA Annual in DC where Jacqueline Kelly, Rebecca Stead and Fran Manushkin are signing books and are soooooooo nice that if you have not read their books, please go read one.

Anyway, a favorite game to play whenever ALA is in town is Spot the Librarian. It’s usually a safe bet to start playing on your plane ride, at the airport and throughout the city. (Next year I need to get my ass in order sooner and get librarian bingo going and offer prizes…remind me.) Anyway, as you are traversing the wilds of ALA, including roller backpacks and people covered in buttons, if you are new to the scene you might find yourself confusing equally badged Vendors with Librarians. Here is our handy guide to spotting the differences between the two species.


Vendor: black suit/black pencil skirt/black dress/black silk shirt/black Italian suit (Euro imprints or poetry journals)/severe shoes

Librarian: roomy jumper with pictures of cats reading on it OR thrift shop finds cobbled into Hipster Superhero look.

Starbucks order:

Vendor: nonfat Venti triple latte OR iced coffe (black, no sugar, please)…and a receipt, please.

Librarian: Grande Hazelnut/Almond/Cherry mocha with extra whip OR chamomile tea…and a receipt, please


Vendor: black laptop case and swag people knock each other down for, soothing smile and candy dish

Librarian: five logo bags full of posters, ARC, storytime kit, fifty buttons, notes from one session they attended in between author signings, lanyards

ALA injury:

Vendor: carpal tunnel syndrome from swiping cards OR broken ankle from getting knocked down by librarians trying to be first to get one of 50 limited edition tote bags

Librarian: blisters and aching feet from waiting 1.5 hours to get Cornelia Funke’s autograph OR heart attack brought on by Kadir Nelson’s melting brown eyes.

Catchphrase and/or pick-up line:

Vendor: “Can I swipe your card?”

Librarian: “Your books mean so much to me.”

Social skills:

Vendor: well-honed in halls of East Coast corporation that include politely navigating awkward conversations on continual basis. Social geniuses of the conference.

Librarian: “Your books mean so much to me.”

That’s it for now, lovelies!


15 Responses to “Special ALA: How to tell Librarians from Vendors”

  1. LaurieA-B June 27, 2010 at 9:57 am #

    So, I’m not the only one to say, “Your books mean so much to me”? Darn.

  2. Maxito Ricardo June 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Your blog post means so much to me!

  3. Melody Marie Murray June 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    YOU mean so much to me!

  4. Daniel June 27, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    Next week’s installment better be “Behind closed door at the Marriott: the ALA’s dirty little secrets.”


    Patiently Expecting Revelatory Volumes

  5. AG June 27, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    I’m missing Cornelia Funke?!

  6. Kathleen McDade June 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

    I saw a picture of you wearing something that was definitely NOT a roomy jumper!

  7. Susann June 27, 2010 at 8:43 pm #

    *snort* When a friend of mine went to ALA last year, her Facebook status read, “Birkenstocks and tote bags…let the games begin!”

    • Shari June 27, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

      Ahaha! Love it. 🙂

  8. Michael Golrick June 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Where is your “Like” button.

    Another sign…Vendor tweeting booth location. Librarian Facebook-ing food and party locations.

    And I am #ala10leftbehind for the first time since 1986-ish. I played “spot the librarian” with a colleague under the arch in St. Louis in 1986. Problem though, the state historical society was also meeting there. Hardly any difference!

  9. Becky June 27, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    I happened across your blog with a link from the ALA Annual Buzz box and am so glad I did. I will be adding you to my google reader. Great entry.

    This from someone only guilty of 2 of the librarian stereotypes!!

  10. Jamie June 27, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    Awesome list but you forgot one category. Hair! If I find myself getting bored at a conference I start counting how many librarians have super short haircuts.

  11. Donna Johns June 28, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    You owe me one! I threw a link to this hysterical post on my Twitter and it sort of exploded. I ended up with 20 new followers in an hour and I bet you did as well. I’m going out to buy a new jumper now. And if there’s money left over, perhaps some new, tasteful tote bags. So funny since I’m not at ALA this year….

  12. Book Club Girl June 28, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    as a VENDOR, I’d say you nailed it (she types from her laptop, out of its black laptop case while sitting in her black dress and black pumps). So sorry we didn’t get to spend more time together!

  13. Jennifer Dupuis July 2, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    Hilarious! I am a current MLS student/public library employee who spent about 12 years as a vendor. You have hit the nail on the head! I was having a bit of split personality at ALA this year.

  14. Tricia Jauquet July 7, 2010 at 7:20 am #

    I think some of us academic librarians are kind of half way between your sartorial description of vendors and librarians–generally pants suits with comfy shoes/sandals.

    Another librarian pick-up line “Where did you get….(that bag, that ice cream bar, that freebie t-shirt, that plate of munchies)?”

    Another vendor pick-up line “[Insert the name of your college or town here]?” I [went there, grew up there…]!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: