In honor of ALA: librarians vs. vendors

Sadly, I am missing ALA this year to attend a high school reunion. In honor of this grand tradition of paying too much for a crappy sandwich, getting as much free stuff as you can schlep and spending hours in line for Neil Gaiman’s autograph, here is your hand guide to ALA: Librarians vs. Vendors edition (lazily reposted from my old blog Unintentionally Funny Books.)

A favorite game to play whenever ALA is in town is Spot the Librarian. It’s usually a safe bet to start playing on your plane ride, at the airport and throughout the city. (Next year I need to get my ass in order sooner and get librarian bingo going and offer prizes…remind me.) As you traverse the wilds of ALA- including roller backpacks and people covered in buttons- if you are new to the scene you might find yourself confusing equally badged Vendors with Librarians. Here is our handy guide to spotting the differences between the two species.


Vendor: black suit/black pencil skirt/black dress/black silk shirt/black Italian suit (Euro imprints or poetry journals)/severe shoes

Librarian: roomy jumper with pictures of cats reading on it OR thrift shop finds cobbled into Hipster Superhero look.

Starbucks order:

Vendor: nonfat Venti triple latte OR iced coffe (black, no sugar, please)…and a receipt, please.

Librarian: Grande Hazelnut/Almond/Cherry mocha with extra whip OR chamomile tea…and a receipt, please


Vendor: black laptop case and swag people knock each other down for, soothing smile and candy dish

Librarian: five logo bags full of posters, ARC, storytime kit, fifty buttons, notes from one session they attended in between author signings, lanyards

ALA injury:

Vendor: carpal tunnel syndrome from swiping cards OR broken ankle from getting knocked down by librarians trying to be first to get one of 50 limited edition tote bags

Librarian: blisters and aching feet from waiting 1.5 hours to get Cornelia Funke’s autograph OR heart attack brought on by Kadir Nelson’s melting brown eyes.

Catchphrase and/or pick-up line:

Vendor: “Can I swipe your card?”

Librarian: “Your books mean so much to me.”

Social skills:

Vendor: well-honed in halls of East Coast corporation that include politely navigating awkward conversations on continual basis. Social geniuses of the conference.

Librarian: “Your books mean so much to me.”

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