Mar 25th, 2017 by Cathy Jo Nelson
#SCASL17 was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. Thank you, @cathyjo!
— John Schu (@MrSchuReads) March 24, 2017
It will take quite a while to process a state level conference that one planned from scratch! There are so many people I need to thank. I know I will miss many who helped me in so many ways, but I want to start here while I am fresh from the #SCASL17 conference and beginning to reflect. My reflection here will be from the view of not attending a single session, only the keynote and Authors Celebration Luncheon. I work Command Central the rest of the entire conference, a chaotic, challenging, and at times very difficult job, but I must confess it was a labor of love
Top Ten who I owe thanks and warm acknowledgements:
- Diane Geddings
She served as my Vendor/Exhibitor Chair, coming back from #SCASL16 to help out again. Diane really made me realize the importance of cultivating meaningful relationships with our loyal vendors who come each year, and why we want them to be happy in the exhibit hall. Her easy going, friendly demeanor and persistent reminder to remember the exhibitors in anyway we could scored us so many brownie points. S
he is giving it up after this year, so we are looking for a new one for #SCASL18, but she certainly has laid the groundwork out for how to have a successful vendor space. Not only did she make us have a very successful exhibit hall, she scored us many sponsorships. I am sad she is not doing it again next year.(UPDATE: DIANE IS BACK FOR #SCASL18!!)
- Heather Thore
Heather served this year as local arrangements chair, and I am not kidding when I say I did not have to worry about anything related to the site and making conference run smoothly. She arranged facilitators, drivers back and forth to airports, flowers and decor, and so much more. I’m a little jealous, as she will be the conference chair for next year where we will be in the same venue, so she really got to experience conference planning from an entirely different view, and will be able to improve upon anything that may need to be improved for next year’s conference. We shared to do lists using Google Keep, and so we always knew what still needed to be done. It was such a blessing having here there leading and learning, and now she can begin the preparations for next year with a huge advantage over me–she will know the site inside and out, and can make it even better than what we did this year at #SCASL17. I can’t wait to see what comes of #SCASL18!
- Krystal Capps
Krystal was our Events Manager at they Hyatt, but I cannot say enough great things about her. I realize she is a professional with many events under her belt, but I still have to say she made planning our conference at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Greenville a delight. She was quick to make any adjustments we needed to make spur of the moment, and she made them happen immediately with no questions asked. I was extremely thankful she was our events manager. The Hyatt can rest assured we are THRILLED to be coming back next March, especially knowing Krystal will be helping us plan it again.
- Doug Johnson – Doug was not at our conference this year, but he was instrumental in connecting me to potential sponsors when on short notice I found out I didn’t have a sponsor for our name badges. Doug made e-introductions for me with Todd Brekhus of MyOn, and the rest was history! I had a sponsor for our badge holders that were extremely popular with attendees, and a first time vendor at conference, all the way from Minnesota. I hope they will return next year!
- John Schumacher and Colby Sharp – “MrSchuReads was supposed to be with us last year, but illness (back injury count here?) laid him out and he had to miss. Score one for me–he promised to come this year, and he did not disappoint! Every time I saw him he was surrounded by attendees, so I know he really impressed everyone here. Since he was coming this spring, we decided to add Colby Sharp to the program, and had a “SharpSchu” session too. I felt extremely lucky to have both here, and now I’m campaigning to get Travis Jonkers here next year so we can maybe see them record a part of a “The Yarn” Podcast. Time will tell, as it’s not my call.
- 22 Authors! WHAT!!??
Oh my, in August I was so worried about not having an adequate number of authors at our library conference, so much so that I began online stalking them. I began with some that really impressed me at ALA Annual Conference 2016, and spread out from there. I had no idea authors booked themselves so far out from dates! Luckily enough I scored promises to attend from 2 of our 2016 book award winning authors (Kirby Larson and Alan Gratz) and then I began working to secure more. I was amazed at the number who were in proximity to Greenville, SC, and then who knew that authors share with one another about Conferences? Before I knew it, we had 22 authors lined up. Checkout the SCASL Conference Link while it’s still there to see who we had! Some were contacts form ALA in Orlando, FL, some were authors that had visited Greenville in November for ReadUp, others were from book club contacts where we’d invited authors to visit online, and more. I was so pleased to have them all in attendance. We were diverse in gender, ethnicity, age, and even experience. Having Jason Reynolds keynote our SCASL Authors Awards Luncheon, and having Kirby Larson and Alan Gratz accept their 2016 SCASL Children’s Book Award Medal and 2016 Junior Book Award Medal in person with both moving acceptance speeches, I have to pinch myself to be reminded I was there–it was real! It was also awesome having Jason Reynolds present when we announced our Young Adult Book Award Banner winner this year, which was for his book
- Conference Surprises
Lucy Green, Dacia Jones, Kitty Tripp, Heather Moorefield-Lang – We had eight pre-conference sessions, but I heard over and over through tweets and comments made at conference registration desk (Conference Command Central) over and over how fabulous these presenters did. Many have asked for us to bring all four back next year, and I’m hoping we can do it. We have already secured Heather Moorefield-Lang as our 2018 Conference Keynote, and both Dacia and Kitty have expressed interest in returning, so I am hopeful. All of our precon speakers were excellent! One more huge surprise came during the Thursday Keynote given by Dr. R. David Lankes, the Director of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. He surprised us all by announcing that Dr. Lucy Green from Georgia Southern University, one of our pre-conference and concurrent speakers, will be joining his staff at USC! YAY. So now I am very hopeful she will join us again next March in Greenville. Icing on the cake, we announced that Heather Moorefield-Lang will be keynoting our 2018 Conference.
- Greenville’s Mother Nature
We arrived at our conference venue Tuesday evening to begin setting up the rooms and conference registration. Upon doing all we could do Tuesday, we decided to wander downtown, eating at a great restaurant, Tupelo Honey. As we ate dinner we watched the evening sky darken with an approaching thunderstorm, and then once back the the hotel, we had an eight story view of the lightening that came with said storm. Amazing, but it made me thankful I was indoors. John Schumacher was stuck in Charlotte waiting to board a puddle jumper plane to Greenville. SCASL Past President was en route to Greenville from Spartanburg and shared how frightened she was driving in the storm, and we were reading posts from Facebook and Twitter where folks in our area said windshields and sunroofs were shattering from the force and sheer size of the hail in the storm. We had a wide range of weather for the four days I was in Greenville, from 80 degree flip-flop weather to sunshiny, but cool and chilly days afterward. This brings to mind our official welcome to Greenville, which came from Tom Taylor. Check out his video of his pictures he has captured personally to share with us the Greenville he knows and loves. Job well done Tom!
- Meeting New Friends/Reconnecting with Library Friends
You just can’t beat getting together with Librarians you network with online throughout the year. We added several opportunities to socialize, particularly with SCASL Board members. Traditionally we have a Past President’s Reception and a Regional Network Breakfast, both food events by invitation only. Most conference venues have astronomical costs associated with these kinds of functions, so we have been seeking ways to bring the cost down but continue the tradition. Last year we decided to get a condo and use it (with our own food and supplies) for the Past President’s reception. The Regional Network Meet-up was a quickie “pickup a donut and coffee in the lobby before we get caught by hotel staff” event. After conference, the board decided to look into reserving a hotel suite if not a condo, and have the Past President’s Reception and the Regional Network Meeting there. The cost of the suite was more than we had ever spent on rooms, but the cost of food and service items was significantly less, so in all we were saving money. Then during ALA Midwinter 2017, we had the genius idea to have an AASL/ALA Member meet-up for breakfast, and use the time to remind and or help our members with their voting, which closes in just a few days. We also decided to do a fun BreakoutEDU activity in our Suite the Thursday night of conference. I cannot tell you how many attendees came thru our suite for different events, but we had a rash of folks asking how to get MORE involved, and expressing interest in being on future boards. Checkout some of our pictures from those events!!
- Heather Loy
Our organization is strong because of the members, past and present. I have been told numerous times how great this conference was. It was not perfect and without problems, but our process for developing and implementing a strong program seems to hide our flaws relatively well. Those who have planned conferences before me can attest to the tremendous amount of work that goes into it, and the sheer amount of exhaustion the Program Chair experiences afterwards. These now present and past presidents have been a godsend to me as well, all offering tips along the way, answering my many questions, and steering me in the right direction. Each conference these people have tweaked and modified our Conference Handbook to make the next Program Chair have a better conference than theirs was. I can attest to how very helpful that handbook is, and am already planning my additions to the handbook to ensure that Heather Thore will have fewer questions for her planning of our next conference in 2018. Then she’ll join this highly regarded and respected group. Heather Loy brought to conference a gift for me, one that I will bring back to conferences in the future. Her gift to me was a “welcome to the club” gift, the club of those who before me who have put their blood, sweat and tears into conference planning. I will give to Heather Thore the same amount of attention, assistance, ideas, and help, as much as she wants. This gift, an iron works rendition of our SCASL logo, will be a treasured gift from Heather Loy for years to come. I will bring it back to conference next year and proudly display it at registration again, if Heather Thore allows it. You see, these people, Heather Loy and all the other past presidents, they are the most passionate people in our profession and organization. I hope I live up to their standards as leader of our organization. But just as this gift is made of strong steel and iron, so too is my passion for my profession and this organization. And this gift will always remind me that I LOVE our SCASL organization. Thanks Heather for this reminder.
All the images in this post were given to me with permission for use with the SCASL 2017 Conference and posts on or about the conference. Tom Taylor’s video came from his sharing it (at my request) which he did via Youtube.