Ruth Arnold

It’s almost time for the VLA Conference. As a member of this organization since the early 1980s, I always look forward to “VLA” as a time to renew my professional friendships and gain new ideas for my library both from vendors and the sessions I attend. This combination of continuing education and face-to-face networking is one of the primary benefits the Virginia Library Association offers its members. I hope your calendar is marked for November 9 and 10. The preliminary conference program and registration materials should already be in your hands.

This year we are once again in Williamsburg. This charming historical town has been a good host to VLA in years past. Our members enjoy coming to Williamsburg and we have good attendance at the conference. There are plenty of restaurants, lots of activities, and some good shopping. We hope that many of you will take advantage of the long weekend to bring your family and stay over in Williamsburg to enjoy the offerings.

The VLA Conference Committee began planning over a year ago to create a conference that will be both fun and thought-provoking. Our theme is “Read-Think-Speak: The Power of Libraries.” The premise relates to the positioning and opportunities we have to make a difference for our patrons by giving them access to the resources that help them make decisions about their lives, and by extension, the future of our country. We hope this conference will give you plenty to think about and generate some good conversations.

Our speaker for the opening general session on Thursday will be Thomas Frey, executive director of the DaVinci Institute. Don’t be confused by the name; it has nothing to do with the popular suspense novel. Rather, it is a futurist think tank that has been recognized as “a center of visionary thought.” With his ability to “translate trends into unique opportunities,” Frey believes that libraries are transitioning from being centers of information to centers of culture. You won’t want to miss hearing from this creative thinker and exciting speaker.

… be sure to bring along your tropical shirt and be prepared to “waste away.”

For the second general session we are treating ourselves to Judith Viorst, a veteran author for both adults and children. You may know her from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day , which came out in 1972 and fast became a children’s classic. You may also be familiar with her witty poetry, collected in such volumes as When Did I Stop Being Twenty and Other Injustices and Forever Fifty and Other Negotiations .

Throughout Thursday and Friday, we are offering over fifty concurrent sessions. Most of the presenters are our colleagues. We think you will find a good balance between programs that are very specifically focused on a particular subject or kind of library and those that appeal to a wide range of conference attendees no matter what their job title or library type. In response to last year’s conference evaluations, we are ending earlier on Friday afternoon. However, there will be sessions after lunch, so please plan to stay for them.

Thursday evening’s social will be pure fun. We will dance to the music of B2B, a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, while we sip margaritas and pretend we’re on the beach. So be sure to bring along your tropical shirt and be prepared to “waste away.”

The more I write about our fall conference, the more I’m looking forward to it. Every conference seems to have a flavor of its own, determined both by the programs offered and by those who attend. You are needed to make this conference a success. I look forward to seeing you there in November. VL