The Romance Writers of America (RWA) annual conference kicks off with Librarians Day, a packed agenda of panels and lunch for local librarians. The Anaheim, CA, get-together on July 25 featured Creative Marketing: Connecting Romance Readers and Authors at the Library, with Amy Alessio and Susan Gibberman of Schaumburg Township District Library, IL, and author Simone Elkeles. Among the tips: romance book talks for teens, book-themed displays that involve users in the decorating, writing workshops, Skype sessions with authors, teen-produced book trailers for YouTube, and charity-based programming with a local writer. Gibberman mentioned that seniors are a solid audience for author programs. One commented, however, that the books featured could have had more sex and more blood. Gibberman responded, They don’t do erotica in large print. Or do they?
The second panel included authors Suzanne Enoch, Julia London, Sabrina Jeffries, and Karen Hawkins discussing their preferred genre, historical romance. Then, Arizona librarians John Charles, Joanne Hamilton-Selway, and Shelley Mosley eschewed hot and trendy for classic titles that should be in every collection, focusing on authors such as Victoria Holt, LaVyrle Spencer, Georgette Heyer, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Phyllis Whitney.
Librarians Kristin Ramsdell (LJ‘s Romance columnist) and Wendy Crutcher along with author Kristan Higgins led a stirring session on romance readers’ advisory (RA). Ramsdell referred to RA as basically the gentle art of matchmaking, getting the right book together with the right reader. Yes, that Grey book came up in conversation, but titles and names of authors flew furiously between the audience and the panel as alternatives. Luncheon speaker Kerrelyn Sparks talked of her poverty-stricken upbringing and left the librarian crowd laughing and crying at her reader emails. Atlanta librarians, you’re up next in 2013. Prepare to be amazed.