Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Blanding Librarian Conference

A few weeks ago I was at the state fair when I used my phone to check my e-mail and found a message from Dan. Dan and I have a mutual friend who lives just up the street, though he lives clear down in Blanding. We are both writers so, the last time he'd been up my way, our friend Kayleen had invited me over for dinner to meet with him. We got along splendidly.

Well, when I got the e-mail from Dan my jaw dropped. He wanted me to come down to Blanding to be the keynote speaker for a Librarian Conference. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Don't you need to be important to do those kinds of things? Granted, I've got a book coming out, but not for another several months. Still, I wasn't stupid enough to pass up an opportunity like this, so I immediately said yes. He asked me to, in essence, give a "pep talk" to the librarians, which I didn't think would be difficult. Libraries and books have had a huge impact on me as both a reader and a writer. I played with the thoughts and ideas for weeks before I finally sat down and wrote the speech in one sitting just a few days before I was to leave.

Part of what I wanted to share was an experience I'd heard Tracy Hickman share at the BYU Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference I went to in June, so I e-mailed Tracy and asked if I could use it. Being the kind gentleman that he is, he of course said yes, and the final piece of my speech was in place. Still, I was nervous. Would the librarians react the way I hoped they would? Or would my first speech be a total flop?

Kayleen and her husband Allan caravaned down to Blanding with me on Thursday and we got there around 8:00 that night. I kept trying to read my speech to get it in my head. I didn't want to have to read the darn thing during my presentation, but I was too nervous to concentrate right then. Finally Friday morning arrived and before I knew it my time had come. I made my way to the podium and all of the nervousness just melted away. I was able to give my speech slowly and concisely and didn't have to read the whole thing. I could feel the energy building in the room. It was awesome. And when I finished I had a round of applause that seemed sincere, but the greatest compliment of all came around lunch time.

A lovely older lady come up to me just before breaking up for classes and, sniffling, said, "you made me cry!"

You just can't get any better than that, and let me tell you why. If you can make someone cry, you just made them feel, and when people feel, they remember.

I wanted all those Librarians to remember that they are the gatekeepers of knowledge and the title they hold is a noble one. I want them to remember that they are special--for they are the wizards of our world.

Quote of the Day "Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book, If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for."
~~Alice Walker~~


ali said...

I love that--librarians as the gatekeepers of knowledge. Awesome!

Congrats Karen!

Tricia said...

How cool is that?! I was on FB when this link to your blog came up, LOVE that I can be your fan and see the updates! Congrats on the speech, you should post it so we can ALL read and be touched!


L.T. Elliot said...

I knew you'd do a fabulous job, Karen! I'm so glad that the people there understood the message you gave them because they really do change the world. Our children change their world and those hard working librarians make a bigger difference than they'll ever know.

elena said...

I'd love to read your speech--bet it was great. Librarians need to remember that they aren't just media center coordinators. A librarian made all the difference in my childhood reading life.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

Now I want to hear the speech. :)

Nichole Giles said...

Congratulations on a job well done. I hope I can do as well on my first speaking engagement. You must've been so brave!

Rock on, girl.


Marta O. Smith said...

It's good to see you blogging again, Karen. I don't suppose anyone videotaped your speech? I would love to hear it.

Karen Hoover said...

We had to video tapes going. Mine you can see, but not hear. I haven't asked the other people yet if theirs turned out. I'll find out and let you know. :)

elizabeth said...

I'm so happy for you--I knew you could do it! You are awesome, Kay!


C.S. Bezas said...

Ah, I'm so happy for you, Karen. You are a deep thinker and I'm sure your speech was deserving of inducing touching moments, even tears.

I'm so happy for all the good that's coming your way.

And I love your Alice Walker quote at the bottom of your post! There is an excellent book to read on this subject, called Moral Fiction. I highly recommend it.

Christine Thackeray said...

Good for you! Impressive blog. It's my first time and I'll be back.