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A Pen for Your Thoughts?

Or: My colleagues went to the WLA conference and all I got was…

Published onJul 30, 2023
A Pen for Your Thoughts?

I wasn’t able to attend this year’s WLA conference in Wenatchee but, from what the lucky ducks who were able to go have told me, it was a blast. Thankfully, Alki exists and every summer issue is dedicated to recapping and expanding on the event. So it’s almost like I was there! Kinda. Close enough for me.

There is one thing that bums me out about not attending the conference that this Alki issue can’t make up for: I had at least six colleagues attend and not one—not a single one!—brought me back a souvenir. Nary a pen or a tote bag to be had. The gall. The nerve! Well, that’s not entirely true. Our web editor, Ray Zill, did bring me back a sign from the Alki booth that made me feel a bit better: it’s a large poster with the title “What will you bring back to your library?” followed by a dozen responses from attendees.

Some of my favorites from the list:

Allyship. Washington librarians and their depth of love and compassion for the community are what drove me to pursue this career. 

An even bigger TBR pile! Like any of us need help in this regard. How many books are on your To-Be-Read list? Seventy-five? Two-hundred fifty? All 2,000 of James Patterson’s ever-expanding repertoire?

ENERGY + IDEAS! I am definitely not lacking in the energy department! Let’s gooo!

More ideas on how to smash the patriarchy. This suggestion implies an existing collection of ideas on how to smash the patriarchy, and that warms my heart.

A newfound love of postcards. I feel like this one was directed at us. Ray and I worked hard on those Alki postcards, so I’m glad this responder loved them. They’re limited edition; make sure you preserve them properly!

A zillion pens and pencils! Though it’s true that I love the poster and plan to add it to a scrapbook at some point, I’m still pretty peeved about not getting a pen. What’s an editor gotta do to get a swag bag?

While the WLA 2023 conference was a great opportunity for like-minded librarians to gather and revel in the intricacies of our chosen field, it’s important to remember that it wasn’t the only event. This issue is dedicated not just to the official conference, but also to other notable library moments from across the state. Read on to hear more from conference speakers like Naomi Clegg and Aarene Storms, who started a seed library, and learn about all sorts of other statewide activities, like the Academic Librarians’ Unconference. You’ll also find the annual ALA update from Stephen Bailey, a WLA legislative overview, a special report on Washington Tribal Libraries, and a heartfelt letter to the library community from a new WLA member.

Headshot of Bethany, a smiling graduate with wavy, brown hair and glasses, wearing a striped dress, graduation cap, and sash and posing in front of boxed periodicals on a library shelf.
Bethany just received her bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College and is on her way to an MLIS with Old Dominion University this fall. When she’s not anxiously planning for the future, she’s usually crocheting (current WIP: a piano scarf with rainbow keys), reading (Suzanne Collins’ A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes), or playing video games (Dreamlight Valley on the Steam Deck or hidden object games on Xbox).
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