Sadly, I was unable to attend most of the Kansas Library Conference this year, but I did get to attend the Friday Luncheon. Before and after the luncheon, I heard numerous friends and colleagues comment on the great breakout sessions they attended. Driving home yesterday, I thought about everything that goes into making any conference a success and there are a few people I would like to thank for their efforts on this conference and numerous other conferences in the past and hopefully the future.
First, I would like to thank Nancy McFarlin for the job she performed in soliciting presentations from a busy group of people. Having been in Nancy’s position a couple of years ago, I know first hand the challenge of encouraging and coaxing school librarians to share with their peers. I don’t think it’s a matter of not wanting to share, but rather the feeling of not having anything valuable to share or maybe even the timidity about presenting to their peers. As the one responsible for securing presentations, you have to help some people realize they have something valuable to share and that they are capable of sharing. Once she obtained the presentations, Nancy had the next fun task of scheduling the dates and times for all those presentations. While this can be a fun logic puzzle trying to spread out the topics and audience types so you are not heavy on elementary or technology during a particular session slot, it is a time consuming task - not one you complete in a single afternoon.
Secondly, I would like to thank George Blume for the hours he dedicates in securing our vendors for the Exhibitor Area. One would think vendors would be banging on the door to have time to visit with the folks who purchase their products, but you have to admit we are a tough crowd. I know I’ve been guilty of taking freebies from the vendors, but not giving them the time they desire to talk to me about their product. Somehow though, George manages to convince several of these vendors to come back year after year in an effort to promote and sell their products. I don’t know how many years George has been filling this position, but I do know it’s longer than I would have survived in that position. Even though the conference for this year has ended, I know George is diligently sending out thank you notices and trying to secure commitments from the vendors to return again next year. By January, he will be putting together a new contract for a new venue, figuring the cost of items in an effort to give the vendors the best deal he can while trying to help the conference make a little money. He will spend time contacting vendors via email, on the phone and even in person. He will take on the role of a vendor himself in an effort to get them to purchase a spot at our next conference. The day before the conference begins, George will make sure the exhibitor’s hall is set-up with the correct number of booths, carpet, electrical outlets and any other requested items from the vendors. During the conference, he will make sure the vendors are happy and encourage those of us at the conference to stop in and see the vendors. You know, I don’t even know if George ever attends any of the sessions himself when he is working with the vendors. When the time comes for the vendors to pack up, George is on hand to assist any way he can and to provide a warm “Thanks” to the vendors for their continued support. Then he starts all over again for the next conference. Of course, George does have a great set of helping hands in his wife Sheila. Shelia assists with the tasks to be completed, but more importantly serves as an anchor and soundboard for George.
Finally, I would like to thank Barb Bahm for her success as the conference treasurer. Over the past several years, Barb has handled the financial end of the conference including registration. Barb assists in making decisions on the conference expenses keeping the rest of the planning committee in check when we talk about spending money. She’s the sensible voice in the background asking if we really need that added expense or if a more economical solution is available. She also has the joy, actually a headache in my mind, of receiving and confirming all our registration forms. She works with our school districts when they send in purchase orders to pay our conference fees and sadly she plays the role of collection agent when our fees haven’t been paid. She welcomes us at the registration table during the conference. Like George, I don’t think she attends many sessions at the conference as she continues to assist the conference committee with any tasks to be completed. You may have seen Barb setting up table displays prior to a luncheon, assisting presenters who were having technical difficulty or collecting our forgotten items so we could retrieve them again before leaving the conference. Barb’s role as treasurer will not end for several months after conference as she will still be writing checks for conference related expenses and balancing the conference budget - all just in time for the beginning of the next conference planning meeting.
I know there are several others who work hard to plan and organize the conference each year, but these three individuals really stood out to me as I worked with them on the planning committee this year. Thank you George, Barb and Nancy for all your time, commitment and dedication to the members of KASL.
KASL Immediate Past President