I'm still recovering my equilibrium (and my voice) after a week in Kansas City for the 2013 Romantic Times BookLovers Convention. It was a terrific convention this year, and I enjoy RT more each time I attend. At some point I'll reach maximum velocity of squeeing joy and spontaneously combust, but it hasn't happened yet.
RT is an amazing enterprise for a few reasons—and if you're a librarian, it's worth considering a trip. As a fan convention, RT is a four-day event centered around a much-loved common interest—in this case, romance novels, all the varieties thereof, and the people who write, edit, and read them. Attendees take days off work, leave home and job responsibilities, to take a vacation that is focused on books. I don't know if I can fully describe how awesome I find that.
Plus, authors arrive eager to interact with readers, share news about their books and learn about new books they want to read—as romance authors are also romance readers, too.
There is an ever-increasing number of librarians who attend RT, in part because there is a librarian track of convention events, and in part because the librarians who are romance fans and romance readers are among the most awesome kind of librarian. Not only are there sessions about every sub-genre within romance, from steampunk to resurging Regency backlist, but there are opportunities to meet authors, receive copies of books, and learn about new publications, new sub-genres and popular trends that might be requested tomorrow at a local library. Plus, there's the awards ceremony, where the top books from many, many different flavors of romance are honored, including MelJean Brook, whose book Riveted was the RT 2012 Book of the Year.
RT, by the way, is also very welcoming of library patrons. If you're not an RT convention attendee, admission to the Saturday Mega Book Signing is $5 at the door—but it's free if you show them your library card. Good on you, RT.
This year, the Mid-American Library Alliance hosted a one-day symposium on romance that I was part of, starting with a discussion of romance collection building (technical librarian stuff I confess I don't quite understand), followed by an afternoon of presentations about romance as a genre and the romance readership (that was my presentation). The day ended with a panel of authors answering questions about their books, and many other questions related to romance and libraries.
I know several of the authors who attended the MALA one-day conference, and some were coming directly from the airport so they could be there for the cocktail hour. So many authors recognize the importance of librarians in connecting readers with new romances to read, and we (I include myself in that pool of authors, even though I keep forgetting I am one) welcome the opportunity to meet more librarians.
For me, there's an incredible amount of misunderstanding about what librarians do, and I'm (if you hadn't noticed) terribly curious about how library collections work and how libraries decide to add romances to their circulation. Librarian events built around and within RT are a tremendously influential opportunity to learn more about various library collections, and I confess, when I see "Librarian" on a namebadge, I make a graceless beeline to speak to that person.
I hope if you're a romance-reading librarian, you'll consider coming to the 2014 RT in New Orleans. I have nothing to do with the conference planning and I get no incentive for recommending it, except the opportunity to meet you and meet so many other readers. It's easily one of my most favorite events of the year, and I hope you'll consider it.
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. She loves talking with romance readers, and hopes you'll share your new favorite romance reading recommendations. You can find her on Twitter @smartbitches, on Facebook, or on her couch, most likely with her eyeglasses turned towards a book.