As expected, the evening would end the way it did – – me shamefully walking away from the group after pushing back and forth, “virtual arm wrestling” across a slippery table in a bar–the Bookstore Bar–a classy place surrounded with walls of books. It’s automatic, I don’t know why, that my Chinese side doesn’t feel right leaving without at least a valiant effort of picking up the tab. I even tried to sneak one past with money under a handshake but it was quickly uncovered by my smart colleague who was quick to draw cash out of her wallet and beat me to the punch.
But don’t let any of the above lead you into believing the evening didn’t go well. The first Seattle APALA social was better than I had ever hoped for. On a Friday the 13th , battling for parking spaces with Mariner fans, we were very successful. In hindsight, I wish I had thought about the ballgame when I organized the event, other than the fact that it makes for easy conversation. I offered to buy everyone superstitious drinks. And over cocktails, ginger ale and blue fries (fries smothered with bacon and bleu cheese), we talked about everything from APALA, the ALSC Institute, Disney, Choose Privacy Week, the Sounders to the Tuscon teacher being fired. As serious as the topics were, none of us were uncomfortable.
I was happy to find common ground with each person. I already knew a couple people — I was thrilled to see Julie Ann Oiye, Director of SPL’s Beacon Hill Library. She’s someone I had always admired and hadn’t seen for nearly 20 years, back when she worked for KCLS Burien branch. Angela Nolet, virtual library services maven of KCLS, made a guest appearance at the APALA social to address any issues or answer questions people may have. She’s running for ALA Councilor-at-Large and the ALSC Newbery Committee. Becka Kennedy and I had both volunteered at the Wing Luke Museum in the past. As a new member, I was grateful for the information she shared about APALA. Maria Pontilla, also a youth services librarian and a member of ALSC, and had set foot at the Issaquah Branch on a day I was working. I’d go into further details but it would take pages. Everyone was so much fun and interesting!
Though Seattle is in a bubble of its own compared to other parts of the United States, we acknowledged that it was important to stay on top of issues affecting Asian-American librarians, ethnic caucuses and the rest of the nation.
As I walked away, I was reassured that I would get them all back. We would not lose touch since there are only a handful of APALA members in Washington state and we would make the social a monthly event. Some who couldn’t make it this time promised to make it next time. And next time I was not going to lose the battle of the wits to pick up the whole tab. I can’t wait until our next get together!
By Ann Crewdson, King County Library System, Issaquah Library, Children’s Section Supervisor