You're going to be hearing a lot about The Homestead in the months leading up to the VLA/VALL Joint Annual Conference to be held there on November 5-7, 2003. To further whet your appetite we asked several past VLA presidents and conference chairs for their memories of VLA Annual Conferences at the Homestead. As you'll see from their recollections and memories, The Homestead is one of the best places to hold a conference in the country. We're lucky to be able to visit it every few years!
- The Editors

Morel Fry, VLA Annual Conference Chair, 2000; VLA President, 2003

Working on some reports while sitting on my own personal porch. My room wasn't anything special but it did have a little screened porch, and the weather was clear and warm.

Driving up to the Homestead with its turn-ofthe- century elegance and seeing people sitting on the white rocking chairs on the porch and trees in fall colors framing the building.

Going to the breakfast buffet and having fresh raspberries and fresh whipped cream - all I wanted.

Conferences there seem more relaxed, with chances to talk to colleagues and friends. You see more of them because there aren't distractions.

Going to the spa. Although the first time, I didn't know what a scotch spray was, and the next thing I knew I was standing in a room while people turned the hoses on me. Since then, I have had massages and mineral soaks that feel very luxurious.

Taking an early morning walk, which was mostly uphill (I am a flatlander, you know) and coming back to a big breakfast. But the walk in the hills was wonderful.

Mary Mayer-Hennelly, VLA Annual Conference Chair, 1999

The Homestead is a very pleasant and (somewhat) non-typical library conference location.

First, because it is a highly rated resort, participants have the opportunity to attend relevant programming about our profession AND then immediately avail themselves of a spa massage, swim in a pool of spring water, or trek around the nearby mountain area.

Second, there's no need for careful expenditure of meal-per-diem funds because a sumptuous breakfast and dinner are covered in the daily rate. No VLAer has ever been heard to complain about the gourmet food. In short, attending a conference at The Homestead is a marvelous mix of excellent programs, excellent cuisine, and excellent company. Our usual roles are reversed, and we are the ones served. Is there anything better for our spirits and motivation? I wish the conference were next week!

Cy Dillon, VLA President, 2000

I like the Homestead because of the beauty and tranquillity of its setting. It is a great place to enjoy the conference with a spouse. The large, comfortable rooms, manicured grounds, and spacious public areas are perfect for that kind of getaway. And the wonderful dinners and music provide ample time and atmosphere for renewing connections. The many quiet corners with comfortable furniture make for relaxed conversations with VLA friends, and the prestige of the place makes it easier for us to get speakers, such as Donald McCaig and entertainers like Robin and Linda Williams. Those lovely old halls give our memories an unforgettable background.

Sandra Heinemann, VLA President, 1999

  • a step back in time
  • elegant surroundings
  • sumptuous breakfasts
  • great service
  • crisp mountain air
  • high tea
  • feeling pampered
  • walks on trails in the woods
  • time to reflect
  • collegiality and togetherness
  • music, tea, crackling fires
  • good conversation in the great hall
  • gold brick sundaes (my favorite)
  • wonderful atmosphere to connect, learn, and share with colleagues
  • "feeling good" sense in experiencing something special

Overall, meeting at the Homestead has always been my most productive and most enjoyable VLA Conference experience (and that's after 25 years of going to annual meetings).