If the goal of a conference is to load you up with ideas make you want to run through a brick wall in the name of your profession, then the Kansas Celebrate the Book Reader’s Advisory conference on Topeka last Friday did the job.
I drove to Topeka avoiding the easy I-70 corridor and instead went down K-10 to Lawrence and then fudged my way through the back roads until I found my way into the city. Beautiful country, by the way – lots of large farms with cows, goats, and horses. I would have stopped to take pictures if I had my camera with me. Living in KC I’m used to branch libraries scattered about everywhere, but in our state’s capitol there’s just one big library to call home. It’s new and quite pretty, almost like a museum, but I didn’t like the layout – collections were housed in different wings, so if you’re in the children’s section and want to look at the DVDs, for example, you have to go down a hall and into a separate room.
I went to three breakout sessions and cruised by the check-in table at every opportunity to snag handouts from the sessions I didn’t go to. I was able to find people from other branches of my library to sit with during lunch and met other people from other Kansas libraries, including two people I already know from my classes at Emporia State. Everyone was nice and I enjoyed the speakers: KU Chancellor Robert Heminway, who looked like an aged version of Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, and Mark Spragg, author of An Unfinished Life and Where Rivers Change Direction. Spragg was an impressive speaker, even while fighting a cold. He told stories of his family growing up in rural Wyoming and his family’s monthly trips to to town to buy supplies, do banking, and to visit the library. He didn’t look like a cowboy – a cowboy’s accountant, perhaps – but he was the real deal, the Great American Author in the flesh, and he was inspiring.
So I go back to work tomorrow ready to assault my coworkers with pages and pages of RA resources, and I’ll be posting some here as well. After this, you certainly won’t hear me complaining about not having anything to read.