First experiences at ALA

ALA conf 2016

The American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, a ginormous offering for ALA’s 68,000 member librarians, was held this past weekend in Orlando at the newly refurbished Convention Center. Why should that matter to you? According to the ALA convention website, approximately 16,000 people who are decision makers concerning which books are purchased for their libraries were expected to attend. Roughly eighty-six percent of them purchase books at this annual conference. This is a huge marketing outreach for new books for kids.

Here is an impressive bit of trivia – the ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world. How’s that for clout?

Maryann Cocca-Leffler and Jair Hernandez int he Diversity Pavilion.

Maryann Cocca-Leffler and Jair Hernandez in the Diversity Pavilion.

W SD hardcoverFullSize2

Newly available in hardcover too!

I am especially keyed into this 2016 event since Babl Books, Inc. brought my book, Sand Dollar, Sand Dollar, in its brand new, hard cover, printed in the USA, Spanish translation. This was the first time Babl Books has participated and it was a productive move for all of their authors and illustrators.

Jair Hernandez, President of Babl Books, Inc., continues to promote his mission to publish much-needed quality bilingual picture books that deal with universal themes. Babl Books exhibited in the Diversity Pavilion, in good company with We Need Diverse Books nearby, who also exhibited there for the first time.

W Nancy Cote JBMaryann Cocca-Leffler, Acquisitions Director for Babl, is also an Author-Illustrator of Children’s books. She joined Jair in promoting Babl Books and their 20+ distinguished Authors & Illustrators (current and upcoming lists), including Nancy Cote, David McPhail and Michael Garland.

Jair reports: We met with a lot of enthusiastic librarians, publishers, and vendors who want to see more bilingual books. Our hard work leading up to the conference definitely paid off, as we were able to showcase our books and speak of a literacy need that resonated with many of the people we spoke with.

The road to ALA 2016 wasn’t without its hiccups, which included me dropping all my catalogs in the parking lot. 

ALA catalogs

We felt ALA was a great success for Babl Books and our Author Partners. Maryann and I were able to cap off the weekend  with some local flavor at Cafe Tu Tu Tango, where Maryann tried her first gator!

Maryann adds: All our books are available in hardcovers for Libraries through Babl Books and through Ingram and hopefully soon through Baker & Taylor.

Librarians at ALA were actively on the look-out for bilingual books. Though Spanish seems to be the most sought after, we got enthusiastic response for our bilingual offerings in our other 7 core languages including Portuguese, Chinese and Vietnamese. There was lots of talk about “Family Literacy” and many found our dual text particularly helpful when a child shares their books at home. Many librarians asked for Arabic, which we currently don’t offer, but may look into that possibility.

I think people were most surprised by our innovative translation platform and our POD ability to print quality hardcovers, which truly gives us the ability to add many language offerings. We are actively growing our line and are gaining interest from authors, illustrators and agents.

Our booth was in the Diversity Pavilion. We not only connected with Librarians but other valuable industry professionals. Many Librarians brought along their families. It is nice to hear that as parents they want to bring up their children in a bilingual household. (I slipped some paperbacks books to the kids!)

David McPhail coverSwag – book related freebies – is often available at conferences, book launch parties, and conventions. Jair and Maryann held raffles each day to give away themed packets. On Friday it was a Celebrating the Child pack including Something Special, Jackson’s Blanket, Fatuma, and I Like Buttons. Saturday’s was a Nighttime pack featuring Caroline Dreams, Before You Go to Bed, Time to Say Bye-Bye, and Mouse Counting. On Sunday they gave away a Summer Kick-off pack including Hermit Crab, Whale-snail, Sand Dollar, Sand Dollar, and Clams All Year.

A conference like ALA Orlando has enormous power to connect people with books for children. This first experience for Babl Books as an exhibitor at a major event like this one proved to be gratifying.

To find out more about Babl Books please visit

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