D.C. Tips – YA Literature outside the Conference

Though you will have many opportunities to see and hear from authors at the conference, there are a few teen-focused events elsewhere in DC that might warrant a little exploration.

Politics and Prose is one of American’s greatest independent bookstores, and if that isn’t enough to get you to take a field trip, Thursday before the conference they are hosting John Green and David Levithan. Green and Levithan are also at the conference, but this may be a good opportunity to watch them interact with their teen target audience. On Monday, Lynne Rae Perkins is appearing, and her new book is getting lots of buzz. Check out the complete calendar of events at Politics and Prose.

Right near the convention center is the Martin Luther King Library, and this year they will be the site of a reception for Capitol Choices. Capitol Choices is a group of librarians, teachers and booksellers from the Washington Metropolitan Region who discuss books for kids and teens and create a list of 100 books at year’s end. Come and enjoy refreshments, and chat with authors (including Jon Skovron, author of Struts and Frets) and many great advocates of children’s literature. The reception will be held on Sunday afternoon from 3-5.

D.C. Tips – Conference with Beat

For annual conference night owls, Washington DC is the home of some of the country’s great live music venues.’  And the lineups for the last weekend of June are spectacular by any standards.

Most famously, the 9:30 Club, accessible via the Green or Yellow Metro lines, has a great lineup. On Thursday night, soul singer Bettye Lavette plays starting at 8 p.m. Friday, I’ll probably be checking out Tinariwen, a band from the Saharan region of Mali, who despite being together for over 30 years, are now enjoying overnight sensation status thanks to fans ranging from Henry Rollins to Thom Yorke, and some great music. Finally, us old timers can see the latest incarnation of Courtney Love’s Hole. Sorry, Monday’s Adam Lambert show is sold out.

Personally, I also love to dance, but don’t always love the velvet rope drama of a nightclub. A new arrival on the DC Scene is U Street Music Hall It feels like a rock club, but it’s bringing some of the best soulful house music and widest known djs around. ALA weekend features Om Records Marques Wyatt.

Stay tuned for more music choices for you late night partiers.

D.C. Tips – MNH Exhibit: Written in Bone

When visiting the Washington D.C. area this June for ALA’s Annual Conference, fans of this country’s Colonial history, or fans of forensic science will want to book time for a trip to the Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History to see Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th Century Chesapeake. The exhibit runs through February 6, 2011, but why wait?

Forensic Anthropologist, Doug Owsley, provides an excellent online introduction to the exhibit and mentions two of the not-to-be missed “bone biographies” featured. He also mentions the forensic anthropology lab, which is open for self-guided, hands-on exploration and is also available for more traditional class-oriented school programs. Check into the details for the lab on the website, especially if you are bringing a group.

Whether you are a Maryland/Virginia history buff, a Forensic Files fanatic or a fan of Sally M. Walker’s award-winning companion volume, Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland (Carolrhoda Books, 2009), this exhibit has something to capture your attention.

National Museum of Natural History Hours:
Monday to Friday – 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Weekends 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

D.C. Tips – Evening Options

Annual is only two weeks away, and I am sure everyone is figuring out where you have to be and when. ‘ Is your schedule packed, but you still want to get out and explore Washington D.C.? ‘ Here are some “after-hours” options for you to consider!

Most of the monuments and memorials are open 24 hours a day (although they are not staffed with park employees around the clock).’  Some are actually much more stunning when lit up in the darkness. ‘ The National Mall is patrolled all hours, so it is a relatively safe area to visit, although you should always be cautious. ‘ Visiting at night also allows you to avoid the tourists and the D.C. heat and humidity.’  “Solemn Dignity” by Jonathan Berohn can give you an idea of what is worth seeing. ‘ Additionally, the Jefferson Memorial is pretty at night, and the Washington Monument will be open until 10 pm for the summer.

Some of the museums offer evening options. ‘ The National Gallery Sculpture Garden has a special “Jazz in the Park” program every Friday evening. ‘ Some Smithsonian museums have later summer hours (this includes the zoo). ‘ The International Spy Museum is open until 7 pm. ‘ The Phillips Collection is open until 8 pm on Thursdays.

If you are interested in venturing outside of the city, two cities in Virginia can be fun. ‘ Arlington has a lot of nightlife options that cater to the young professional crowd; Yelp lists some under Restaurants and Nightlife. ‘ Old Towne Alexandria offers a lot of history, great restaurants, and fun places to shop. ‘ The Torpedo Factory is a great place for various types of art.

Looking for nightlife in D.C.?’  Adams Morgan and Georgetown are two very popular places within D.C. city limits.’  If you want to stick closer to the Convention Center, Yelp can be a resource to browse for restaurants and other nightlife near by.

If you have any other suggestions, be sure to leave them in the comments!

D.C. Tips – Visit the National Harbor and Old Towne Alexandria

There is something for everyone at the National Harbor with fun and exciting restaurants like Ketchup to the ritzy like, Graces Mandarin. If you don’t need ambiance and a good sandwich is what you are in store for; try Potbelly Sandwich Works. Those folks watching their weight should stay far away from Cake Love and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Cake Love is a dream bakery created by Food network host and a DC local Warren Brown. Cake Love has your favorite cakes but better than you remember. After eating, walk off those extra pounds. Stop in the Gaylord Hotel and enjoy the Atrium. Then take a relaxing water taxi ride into Old Towne Alexandria. There is plenty to see and do in Old Towne; from the street performers to the mall. There is even a park if you want to play Frisbee, walk a dog or just chill. If it’s been too long since your last meal, Old Towne has great restaurants too. The great thing is you’ll definitely be able to walk off the pounds in Old Towne. Great shops here as well. Between the two places you can spend an entire day.

D.C. Tips – The Newseum

Better late than never — this is the final post in Museums Month!

One of Washington D.C.’s newest museums is the Newseum, devoted to the history of news.’  The front of the building includes a stone wall engraved with the beginning section of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.’  This overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue, making it something every president will see on his or her Inauguration Day parade route.’  The lobby of the museum displays the daily front page of 80 newspapers from around the world.

ALA’s Scholarship Bash will take place at the Newseum this year on Saturday, June 26, from 7 to 11 p.m. Tax-deductible tickets include admission to the Newseum and cost $40 before conference and $45 onsite. Learn more and register at the ALA Annual Scholarship Bash page.

Permanent exhibits within the museum cover a variety of topics, including the flow of news, news in the Web 2.0 world, and photography in the news.’  Major events also receive their own exhibits, including 9/11, Watergate, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.’  (The Newseum claims to hold the largest collection of Berlin Wall pieces outside of Germany!)’  A map displays the current condition of free press around the world, which recently changed a bit according to a story in the Washington Post.’  Special exhibits that are currently on display are devote to Elvis, Sports Illustrated Photography, Tim Russert, and the one I am dying to see – First Dogs: Presidential Pets in the White House.

The Newseum does charge admission but the tickets are good for two days.’  Tickets purchased online receive a 10% discount.’  If you are not able to visit the Newseum, the website is worth exploring.’  It has resources for students and teachers, games, and even a virtual tour of the museum.

Other museums we did not cover during Museum Month but worth checking out include O Mansion, African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, National Museum of Health and Medicine, and the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.

As we get closer to Annual, are there any other topics’  you would like the Local Arrangements Committee to cover?’  Leave a comment and let us know!

D.C. Tips – The Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution is affectionately called “Our Nation’s Attic” and it certainly earns that title.’  The Smithsonian is made up of several different museums, each holding unique treasures.

Want to see Kermit the Frog, Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt, the Star Spangled Banner, or an Inauguration gown worn by a First Lady?’  Drop by the National Museum of American History.’  This museum has undergone a big face lift, so even if you have been here before, it is worth seeing again.
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D.C. Tips – The International Spy Museum

Do you have a fondness for James Bond or Jason Bourne?’  If so, you do not want to miss exploring the International Spy Museum while you are in Washington D.C. for Annual this year!

The International Spy Museum is designed to appeal to both older children and adults.’  As you wander through the museum, you’ll’  learn about the history of spying and the many ways it’s been accomplished over the years.’  Could Moses have been a spy?’  The museum covers spying as far back as the Greeks, and moves up to modern day spying and the technology used.’  The gadgets are a lot of fun to look at, and includes such innovations as a lipstick gun, invisible ink, and buttonhole cameras.’  Using film, audio, and other methods, first hand accounts are included throughout so visitors can learn about real events, and maybe even get a glimpse at what might motivate a person to become a spy.’  Interactive exhibits let the visitors get an idea of whether they might make a good spy…or not!

My personal favorite part of the museum was a room devoted to animals who have worked for spies.’  Pictures taken using cameras attached to trained pigeons were amazing.’  If you cannot visit the museum but want to learn more about animal spies, check out the book The Cold War Pigeon Patrols and Other Animal Spies by Danielle Denega.

The International Spy Museum is privately owned and operated, so adult admission is $18.00.’  The museum also has a few special attractions for an extra fee.’  More information can be found at the museum’s website.