Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meet SINC library guru, Mary Boone

ROSEMARY: Today's guest blogger is Mary Boone, library liaison for Sisters in Crime.
For the past few years (as long as I've known her) Mary has tackled the difficult job of orchestrating SINC's presence at one of the most valuable shows any mystery writer can attend, ALA's Annual or Summer Conference. Many have likened the task to herding cats.
Mary and right hand woman, Doris Ann Norris (seated right, with Hank, Ro and Cara Black) juggle schedules and make sure thousands of librarians know about SINC and SINC authors.
Hank and I spent two days in DC with the unflappable (and unfortunately camera-shy!)Mary and although she should be home with her feet up, recovering from all her hard work, she's stopped by today to tell JR readers what the experience is like.
MB: It's huge. Immense. Sporting a cast of tens of thousands, it is so large it is not merely enormous or gigantic, it is Gi-normous!
What is it? The American Library Association's Annual Conference & Exhibition.
No one uses the full, formal name, though. Instead, librarians talk about what will be happening at ALA or who is going to Annual come the summer. Going to ALA is a remarkable opportunity to recharge one's batteries, to learn from the best of the best and hear about new trends in the profession, and of course to discover new writers and books.
ALA moves around the country each year, alternating locations between cities like Chicago, Anaheim, CA., and Washington, D.C., attracting approximately 11,000 library workers and another 12,000 exhibitors (from publishers to makers of library cards and book bags to makers of bookmobiles) displaying their goods. This summer ALA found itself in back in Washington, during what has now officially been designated the hottest June for the area since record keeping began in 1871.
ROSEMARY: Here's an update from the ALA website, courtesy of Sheila Connolly

"A grand total of 26,201 librarians and library staff, exhibitors, and library supporters attended ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., June 24–29. Attendance was short of the 28,941 who came to Chicago in 2009, but exceeded the 22,047 attendees in Anaheim in 2008"

Fantastic exposure! Many thanks, Mary!

MB: Since becoming Library Liaison to Sisters in Crime in 2007 I've had the pleasure of organizing an exhibit hall booth for SinC at ALA each summer. Despite the record heat, this was one of the busiest conferences I've seen at our booth. There are always occasional lulls in the traffic that's how one knows an especially popular panel or speaker session is in progress. But once those sessions ended, attendees swarmed back to the exhibit hall, and to our booth.

For many ALA veterans the SinC booth is a must stop destination. There are also plenty of newbies who are drawn to the booth curious about our name (no, we are not nuns with guns) or who, in exploring the exhibit hall, are delighted to discover SinC by happenstance. But once the booth is visited, conference goers return multiple times while the exhibits are open and join the hundreds of librarians who seek it out each year they are able to come to ALA.

What brings those conference goers back to the SinC booth time and again? It's surely a combination of things. First and foremost, I think it's the personal connections they make with our writer members who staff the booth. One librarian said to me, "Every author I've met in your booth is so easy to talk to. They love books and reading as much as I do!"
When a librarian meets a SinC author at ALA and takes one of the author's books back to her library's patrons, she will share the personal connection made at ALA with scores of readers. It's impossible to buy that kind of brand loyalty. Secondly, as librarians come to know more about SinC, becoming members themselves, they understand how much this organization values libraries and their place in the communities they serve.

Going to ALA is many things. I've touched only a few. The very best thing about going to ALA is the people one meets especially the ones who give generously of their time to work in the SinC booth, and the conference goers who stop by the booth.

ROSEMARY: There's nothing like the personal connections you can make at events like these - and going under the auspices of Sisters in Crime helps the librarians find you! I've already got plans to go to San Diego in January and New Orleans for ALA next June - Laissez les bon temps roulez. Check the SINC website for details as the dates approach.
(Mary tells me SINC National will not exhibit in San Diego, but hopefully one of the local chapters will. )

HANK: I'm there in San Diego! Let's plan something amazing, you all! And in one of those impossible situations, I'm Guest of Honor at Deadly Ink 2011 (hooray! and thank you beyond thank you) which is exactly the same date as New Orleans.

ALA was--phenomenal. Mary and Doris were stellar, of course, and much hilarity ensued. And I heard so many wonderful stories. It's so rewarding to meet so many people who love books. You know? ALA is home.

ROBERTA: Hi Mary! It's so nice to see you here on Jungle Red--I really miss you! (Mary came on as library liaison during my time as VP and president of Sisters in Crime.) Here's a question: if an author can't get to ALA, what's the best way to get the word out to libraries about a new book?

HALLIE: Oh, Roberta - that's a great question. Mary?


  1. I had no idea! My head is still swimming! I attended my first ALA this year, and I was stunned by how massive it is. It's hard, in fact, to imagine one writer can make any kind of impact there. (Okay, maybe Mr. Rushdie!) I took my turn at the SinC table for 2 hours, spent an hour at my publisher's display and did some wandering in the aisles, but--yeesh! It's sooooo huge! Thanks, Mary, for being such a great organizer and a great hostess. I loved it.
    Nancy M

  2. Librarians are my heros! They are frontline defenders of our free society, and I have the utmost respect and admiration for what they do. Thank you, Mary! And thanks junglered for the post!

  3. I'm proud to say I attended all of the six-figure ALAs mentioned, in Anaheim, Chicago, and DC. As a writer who loves to schmooze, I was in heaven. Librarians are the best--and Mary and Doris Ann are better than the best. Another reason the SinC booth is so popular is that librarians love mysteries--and at the SinC booth, they can get signed copies for free straight from the author. Most read them and then pass them on to their library collections. You can bet they'll talk these books up to their readers and book clubs.

  4. Hi, Mary! Thanks again for being such a wonderful booth organizer and helping get the word out about everybody's books. The Chicago and DC shows were both lots of fun for me. In DC, I was signing my second book and meeting librarians who had read my first. Once librarians find the SinC booth, they keep coming back to get more books and meet more authors. Very cool.

  5. Thanks, women of Jungle Red, for allowing me to ramble on about ALA!

    And, thanks, Roberta for reminding me! There is indeed a way that Sisters in Crime author members can be represented at ALA if they can't make it to the convention. Promotional materials like bookmarks, postcards, or business cards can be sent to a SinC volunteer who lives close to the conference city starting about 2 - 3 prior to ALA. Non-attending authors may even send books for us to give away as part of daily raffles held in the booth--a perk for attending librarians that is extremely popular!

    Which also reminds me that I'm remiss for not mentioning how very important local SinC chapters and members are to the success of our presence at ALA! Without those volunteers working locally before I ever arrive on the scene just prior to the start of the convention, it couldn't simply couldn't be done.

    I've also been fortunate that my sidekick, to borrow Rosemary's term, Doris Ann Norris, is also the immediate past Library Liaison. St. DAN, as she's known in this neck of the woods, is a tough act to follow, but she's also been very generous in sharing from her experiences as Library Liaison. And I can't think of anyone who loves the genre and SinC more.

  6. Great post Rosemary and Mary so glad all your incredible work for Sinc is highlighted!

  7. Mary, you are our new saint,following St.Dan!
    I have loved appearing at ALAs--may consider San Diego in January, or even New Orleans in June.
    We need to do everything we can to show how important libraries are--to us and to readers.

  8. HI Mary,
    Welcome to Jungle Red. Great post. The ALA sounds like a blast. Now I know what I've been missing.

    I'm with Rebbie - librarians are the center of our universe!!

  9. What a wonderful way to connect writers with librarians! I had no idea.

    I am in San Diego and will certainly look into seeing how I can get involved.

    Lynn Sheene

  10. where would our stories be without librarians?!