I parked the book I was reading and dropped in on the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting, held last weekend (Jan. 25-29) in appropriately wintry Seattle.
Those librarians! So cutting-edge, taking on everything from intellectual freedom to homelessness to the Cloud. Despite the Seattle gray, librarians feel at home here, in a city where the Seattle Public Library system ranks first in circulation, in-person visits, and virtual visits, according to a recent world survey of metropolitan (cities above 400,000) libraries.
In search of book news, I browsed the aisles and found some local bits of note.
*The Bosnia-Herzegovina connection: Uber-librarian and Seattle resident Nancy Pearl, who led a panel at the convention, is just back from a visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where she led a discussion with teachers and librarians of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, also a Seattleite.
*The Ivan connection: Long-timers around here remember Ivan the Gorilla, who lived in a cage in a Tacoma shopping mall until he was freed in 1994 and sent to Atlanta to begin a new life in much nicer accommodations in Zoo Atlanta. Ivan’s story inspired a novel, “The One and Only Ivan,” by Katherine Applegate. On Jan. 29 Applegate’s book won the Newbery Medal at the convention, given annually to the book deemed the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature. Ivan died in August at age 50.
*The Bernadette connection: One of the high points of Seattleite Maria Semple’s uproarious novel “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is her portrayal of Bee, the precocious teenager who tries to analyze/protect/rein in her enigmatic mother, Bernadette. Semple’s book won an Alex award at the convention, one of 10 “grown-up” books cited for their appeal to teen audiences.
The Vancouver connection: Vancouver, B.C., author Rachel Hartman won the William C. Morris Award for her book “Seraphina.” The award goes to the best debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens.
In other news, Queen Anne Books, the neighborhood independent bookstore in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, is reopening.
Queen Anne Books had a bumpy year last year, experiencing ownership changes and an eventual closing in late October. Good news for Queen Annians: The store is reopening under the ownership of Judy and Krijn de Jonge and owner/store manager Janis Segress, who returns to her old neighborhood after working as head buyer at Eagle Harbor Book Company on Bainbridge Island. Look for a grand reopening at its location on 1811 Queen Anne Ave. the weekend of March 1.
Free lecture series: Humanities Washington has started a promising-looking lecture series titled the Hazel Miller Conversations in the Humanities. Now through next November, speakers will address the state of journalism, female superheroes in pop culture, baseball and history, world literature and more! Next up on March 12 is journalist Claudia Rowe speaking on “The New Front Page: Journalism and What It Means for You.” All conversations start at 7 p.m. and take place at the Black Box Theater at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood. For the complete lineup, go to www.humanities.org/programs/speakers.
Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Gwinn appears every Tuesday on TVW's "Well Read," discussing books with host Terry Tazioli (go to www.tvw.org/shows/well-read for archived episodes). On Twitter @gwinnma.