Get to Know the Real Orlando Area Neighborhoods and Haunts, Part 1

Orlando is a city of neighborhoods; each with their own distinct character and appeal.  To truly enjoy Orlando, venture off International Drive and explore the diversity of Orlando through its neighborhoods.

Thornton Park

With its brick streets, moss-covered oaks, European-style shops and charming bungalows, Thornton Park on the banks of Lake Eola is a feast for the eyes!  After spending whole morning at the conference and an afternoon at the pool, spend the evening walking around Thornton Park and grab a dinner. Thornton Park was great for that purpose.  It is an 18-minute cab ride from International Drive.


SoCo– Southern contemporary cuisine with the menu designed by executive chef Greg Richie, acclaimed chef of Magnolias in Charleston and the Abbey in Atlanta.  Wholesome food presented in an environment of true southern hospitality, Soco offers guests the tradition of time-honored classics, combined with the excitement of the contemporary. Pork Belly Biscuits, need I say more.

Dexter’s– A local’s established casual hangout that takes food and wine very seriously. Full bar, excellent service, and award winning Sunday brunch.  Build your own sandwich or enjoy a carefully prepared entree, everything is made fresh when you order it. The menu inserts and wine lists change every other month, so there is always something new and different to enjoy! Fusion cuisine, sidewalk cafe and menus for organics and local farm raised fruit, vegetables and meats.


The Falcon Bar and Gallery An independent and cutting edge experience in the arts & music in a bar setting. Enjoy the finest craft beers in Thornton Park District.

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Planning your Trip to Orlando Part 2– What to Bring to Florida and What to Leave at Home?

You received the announcement, “Registration is Open!”  I hope you have made your hotel reservation and registered for the conference.  Now, that you have made the commitment to attend Annual Conference in Orlando, on to some important questions…..what to pack and what to leave home?

The well-traveled librarian who has attended many conferences has immeasurable experience in this department. So, let’s start with the basics.  What to bring?

Step 1:  Clothes

          This is Florida.  Not the Florida you see on the Disney Channel, but the real Florida.  It will be hot.  It will rain nearly every day and the humidity is always 100%.  Add to the experience of our unique Florida weather, the fact that you will be walking A LOT.  So, in short, you will be loads more comfortable if you wear comfortable clothing and plan on changing them twice a day.

          The most popular conference attire here in Florida for the ladies is the simple blouse or cotton t-shirt (appropriately adorned with library ephemera), slacks, jeans, or skirt, and very comfortable shoes and for the gentlemen, polo or t-shirt (appropriately adorned with logos), slacks or jeans, and comfortable shoes. The true Florida natives (I am one) do not recommend flip flops, but a shoe or sandal with support.  A sweater or light jacket for the early morning chill of the conference hall is always good to have on hand.  Unless you are the keynote speaker, leave the blazers, suits, and ties at home, no one will be wearing them.  Don’t forget your bathing suit for a dip in the hotel pool, maybe a sundress or maxi dress or a button down shirt for a nice dinner or show on the town.

Step 2:  The Bag

          While you are in the convention center, it is a good idea to have a backpack or a strong tote bag, and a water bottle.  A small umbrella is good for keeping your hair dry during the daily showers should you decide to go outside of the convention center in the afternoon.  The following items are a must for any convention attendee:

  •       Cell phone
  •       Tablet or ipad or small notebook
  •       Business cards
  •       Address labels
  •       Snack
  •       ID, credit card, some cash, and conference badge

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President’s Report – November & December 2015

Happy Winter!

Can you believe it’s already February?!

It’s been a whirlwind since ALA Annual, and here’s what I’ve worked on in November & December 2015:


  • Attended YALSA’s inaugural YA Services Symposium in Portland, OR, and welcomed participants at Opening Reception, Author Luncheon for Jack Gantos (who I like to call the “Johnny Cash of YA Lit”) and Closing Ceremony Poetry Slam
  • Solicited feedback and topics for the Fall Executive Meeting from Board members.
  • Recruit board members to take the lead on various proposals, discussions, and more
  • Participated in, coordinated and led discussions at YALSA Fall Executive Meeting, which was held in Portland, OR, after the YA Services Symposium
  • Assigned Executive Committee members to blog about different topics from the YALSA Fall Executive Committee Meeting and Strategic Planning sessions
  • Called for discussion and vote on adoption of YALSA’s revised Board Meeting Guidelines
    • Motion passed, the guidelines have been adopted and will be added to the YALSA Handbook
  • Called for discussion and vote on
  • Hosted first YALSA Member Townhall Tweet-up of the year on November 30th, 2015
  • Hosted second YALSA Member Townhall Tweet-up on December 18th, 2015
  • Filled chair and member vacancies on YALSA’s Financial Advancement Committee (Thanks so much, Jane Gov, Alida Hanson and Tiffany Williams!!!)
  • Filled vacancy on 2017 Alex award committee (Thank you Diana Tixier Herald!)

Works in Progress

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Planning your Trip to Orlando

So, you have decided to attend the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando!  Now, you have some arrangements to make.

  1. January is the time to register.  If you have not registered, don’t delay.  Visit the ALA website.  The lowest registration rate is available until March 16.
  2. During registration, you will have an opportunity to book your hotel.  International Drive (I-Drive) is the nearest to the convention center.  Stay as close as you can.  (Trust me, you will thank me later.)  While the majority of sessions and events will be in the convention center, it is enormous and you are going to walk your feet off.  A closer hotel allows you to catch some rest if you need to.
  3. Next is Airfare.  February and March are ideal times to book your flight.  Don’t wait too late.  Orlando is host to numerous conferences in June.  There will be others vying for those seats.
  4. April and May will be the time to start planning what events you will attend.  You may also want to think about vacation activities, if you are able to build some free time into your schedule.  Some activities require reservations.  See the YALSA Conference WIKI to start planning your conference experience!

Next time I’ll write about,  What to Bring to Florida, What to Leave at Home.

Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is a Library Media Specialist. She is a library advocate and Board Director for the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Find her online at or follow her on Twitter @VandyPD.

YALSA Board @ Midwinter 2016: Preview & Governance Update

About 10 years ago, I met Gene Luen Yang at the very first ALA Annual Conference I ever attended in 2006 in New Orleans, at the end of my first year of library school.

As a Chinese-American and comics fangirl, my heart nearly stopped in shock and happiness when 6 months later, his ground-breaking work, American Born Chinese, was announced as the 2007 winner of the Michael L. Printz Award.

As this week leads up to ALA’s Midwinter Meeting, where I am so excited to see my colleagues, talk with YALSA members, participate in the Youth Media Awards announcement, and more, I find it thrilling and fitting that Gene Luen Yang was just announced as the 5th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. (Which yet another example of how forward-thinking YALSA always is – we knew he was awesome years ago.)

For more insight on how best to serve teens today and into the future, check out the YALSA Wiki for dates and times of all YALSA events if you’ll be attending Midwinter!

If you aren’t able to be in Boston, follow Midwinter activities with the Midwinter hashtag, #alamw16.

The YALSA board will start off Midwinter on Friday with training session on best practices in association governance. All day Saturday, Board members will work with a consultant from the Whole Mind Strategy Group on organizational planning. The goal is to develop a focused and responsive plan which will help YALSA meet the needs of members and advance teen services in libraries across the country. Based on the outcomes of the organizational planning discussions, the consultant will help the Board draft a new, 3 year plan. The goal is to have that in place by March 1st.

While the planning discussion will take up all of the Board’s meeting time on Saturday, there are still other topics that the Board will be discussing at the business portion of their meeting on Sun. and Mon.

Those topics include:

Check out the full board agenda and documents online to get the details of what the board will be discussing. You can also read the accompanying blog posts on the YALSAblog.

If you have a comment, idea or question for the Board, the first 5 minutes of each of the board meetings is set aside for visitors to ask questions. Feel free to or chat with me or any of the board members at YALSA events at ALA Midwinter, too! You can also e-mail me with comments if you are not able to make it to a session to share your feedback.

Feel free to follow Executive Director Beth Yoke (@yalsa_director), myself (@tinylibrarian), and/or other YALSA Board members for live tweets of adopted actions and discussion highlights.

We’ll also be sharing post conference round-ups over the coming weeks so stay tuned!

YALSA Board @ Midwinter 2016: Organizational Planning Communication Plan

The YALSA Board Midwinter Meeting Agenda and related documents are available and you probably noticed a lot of time devoted to  strategic planning. The work YALSA began with the association’s Futures Report, was also the start of  gathering information, feedback and opinions that ultimately is helping to  inform a new organizational plan. A majority of Board meeting time (which is open to the public) will be spent on organizational planning, but the work doesn’t stop at Midwinter. One of the proposals before the board outlines a plan to communicate the outcomes and next steps of the organizational plan to all YALSA members and stakeholders.

As the Board commits to a “Teens First” focus for the organizational plan and works to prepare the association of the future, this will mean changes to the work of the organization. The Board wants to make sure all members are informed about any major changes to the work of YALSA committees and staff and services to members. These are outlined as priorities in the suggested communication plan proposal.

Once the Board approves a communications plan, over the next six months it is likely you will see news and updates about the new organizational plan on the YALSA website, YALSAblog, e-news, on our list-servs, in personal messages from Board members, and on social media. We want to make sure all members and stakeholders have access to the plan and have chance to ask questions and gain a better understanding of how the new plan will shape the work of YALSA.

Do you have questions or ideas about YALSA’s organization planning process? Please take the time to share your thoughts via this short survey.

All YALSA Board meetings are open to Midwinter Meeting attendees. Feel free to drop by for a short or long period of time. The meetings are an excellent way to learn what YALSA is working on and get a sense of how the association’s governance works.  If you’re not in Boston, follow @yalsa for live Tweets from the meetings.

Strategic Planning Update: Wicked Exciting Happenings in Boston!

Last Thursday, the YALSA Board held its monthly informal call, and we were joined by Eric Meade from the Whole Mind Strategy Group. Whole Mind is helping us create a three-year organizational plan that includes intended impact statements, theories of change, outcomes, and an implementation strategy.  YALSA’s Board of Directors, staff, and some YALSA members worked with Eric in Portland on Nov. 8-9, after the YA Services Symposium.  This month’s discussion was the first time that the entire YALSA board talked to Eric and it was an exciting experience!  The goal of our call was to set the organizational planning agenda for our meeting next month.  We are all looking forward to engaging and thought-provoking conversations in Boston.

The new organizational plan will be future-focused, and one that the Board hopes will bring about a paradigm shift initially described in the call to action in The Future of Library Services for and with Teens Report that was published in early 2014.  You can read the report online and you can even request free copies to be shared at professional development in your library or region.

In Boston, the Board will participate in discussions and activities that will lead to the development of draft documents, and ultimately an finalized organizational plan.  Board members will dive into a draft planning matrix (tentatively divided into the following areas: membership development, member engagement, organizational strengthening, advocacy, and transforming teen library services) and discuss tactics, intermediate impacts, and intended impacts.    Board meetings are always open to observers–please join us in BCEC 158 on Saturday (9 am to 5 pm), Sunday (4:30 pm – 5:30 pm), or Monday (1 pm – 2:30 pm). The Board meeting documents will be posted Dec. 23.  The Saturday meeting will focus on strategic planning.  The Sun. and Mon. meetings will be the Board’s regular business meeting.  If you’re not in Boston, follow @yalsa for live-Tweets from the Board meetings.

We would love to hear your thoughts! Please use this feedback form or contact Candice Mack or me to discuss the future of the organization. Also, look for regular strategic planning updates on the YALSAblog!

Takeaways from Portland: YALSA15

imageI practically lived on coffee and doughnuts this past weekend at the YALSA Symposium in Portland. Not that I’m complaining; if you’re going to drink lots of coffee, Portland is the place to do it. I began my symposium experience with the Friday afternoon preconference Hip Hop Dance and Scratch: Facilitating Connected Learning in Libraries with the hope of gaining some programming ideas. I walked out three hours later with a newfound comfort-level using the program and, yes, concrete ideas for how to use it at my library. Having three hours allotted for experimenting, asking questions, and watching what other people created helped immensely.

At Teen Services without Borders, a panel of school and public librarians and an independent bookseller that discussed challenges and successful partnerships that cross library, departmental, and district lines. Boundaries can feel like brick walls when they prevent teens from accessing the library, and the panel members ultimately decided they needed to serve teens and not the rules, viewing themselves as part of the same community, not competitors. Tips they shared include: Give up your ego. Put kids first. Promote each other’s programs and services. Ask for help and keep trying until you find the right person. Finally, take a hard look at the rules – can any be broken?

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Getting Ready for Winter in Boston

As some of you may know, last year Boston got hit with snow for weeks on end. However, all Boston winters are cold, windy and wet, and here are some quick tips on what to pack to prepare for the beautiful winter wonderland we don’t stop complaining about until spring thaw.

Must Haves:

-Winter Boots

You want to bring boots that are warm and waterproof. You don’t have to take snow boots if it’s not going to snow or you don’t already own them, but DO NOT think you can get away with packing what one would wear in a California or Florida winter. Most likely it will snow, and most likely your feet will get wet. So at the very least, waterproof your boots, and do not plan to wear heels unless you plan to change when you get to the convention center. If you’re not familiar with waterproof spray, it’s very easy to find online, and will keep your boots from letting in all the lovely wet on the ground. Also, you’ll want to bring extra socks. Even if you have waterproof shoes, you never know, and they don’t take up much space in your suitcase.

-Winter Coat

This one is a gimme. You need a real winter coat, one that will cover your whole torso, and can put up with Boston winter temperatures. Typical January temperatures are 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can get colder, so make sure you have something that will keep you warm and toasty.

-Scarves, mittens and hats

You DO need a scarf, and gloves, and a hat. Boston weather is not only cold and windy, but it can also change mid-day. You might leave your hotel thinking it will be mild and dry, and then realize it’s snowing and you wish you could just wrap a towel around your head. IT’s not cute, but no one looks cute outside in Boston in January. You won’t be the only one who looks like a stuffed toy version of yourself.

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