People Serving People: 2003 VLA/VALL Conference
by Morel Fry
I chose the theme "PEOPLE SERVING PEOPLE" because I think sometimes we forget that libraries are about people. I feel books and databases are important, just not as important as people. The people that we serve rely on us to point them in the right direction on the Internet, find the best information, tell them the most fascinating book to read for the summer, find out where Estonia is, what law covers copyright, and so forth. In the write-up on the ACRL Conference in Charlotte, President Helen Spalding stated that librarians are the ultimate search engines, and we are that.
But libraries are also staffed by people with wide-ranging talents, skills, needs and abilities. We all benefit from the opportunity to share those talents and skills, and need the time and place to sharpen those abilities. And what better place to get that chance and opportunity than the 2003 Virginia Library Association and Virginia Association of Law Libraries Joint Conference?
This year the opportunities are even greater. For the first time the Virginia Library Association and the Virginia Association of Law Libraries are having a joint conference. We are really looking forward to the benefits of the two associations meeting together—more programs, more people, and more possibilities for sharing our talents.
Carolyn Barkley and the Conference Committee have worked hard to put together an exciting program for us. I believe they have succeeded. We have some terrific speakers this year. Rita Mae Brown—poet, essayist, novelist and with her cat Sneaky Pie Brown, mystery writer—will be the Thursday General Session speaker. Chris Crowe, author of The Mississippi Trial 1955, which won the Jefferson Cup award, will speak at the Jefferson Cup luncheon. Peter Catalanotti, children's book author/illustrator, will present at the Pre-Conference "Raising Readers: A Library Link to Literacy." At the closing general session on Friday, we anticipate a special appearance by Thomas Jefferson.
The breadth of topics at the more than 60 concurrent sessions is amazing. You can attend programs on many phases of technology or sessions on archiving collections of photographs and music. You can select sessions on children's programs and programs on bibliographic instruction for faculty and students. If those don't meet your needs, you can try sessions on intellectual freedom, public library issues, diversity, volunteers, marketing, outreach, medical information, and the list goes on.
Our exhibitors give us opportunities to see new books, services and technology by visiting our exhibitors. We have a variety of exhibits to view and support and we are lucky to have exhibitors who have supported VLA for years. On Thursday night one of the sponsors for the social is O'Brien and Associates, who have exhibited at VLA for 50 years and who want to celebrate that partnership.
And there will be many chances to just enjoy yourself and talk to fellow VLA and VALL members. The Homestead is a wonderful venue for that kind of networking. The comfort and graciousness plus good facilities, fantastic food, and the spa make it hard to not relax and have a good time.
So mark your calendars for November 5-7, 2003 and come to the 2003 Virginia Library Association and Virginia Association of Law Libraries Joint Conference.