My absence from blogging was filled with such busyness that I don’t feel as though I have slept for about a week. Last Wednesday I headed across the state to Grand Rapids for my first conference—Spring Institute, a Conference put on by the Michigan Library Association for Children’s and Young Adult Librarians from across the state. It was a really cool opportunity to get some new ideas for programming and art projects, do some social networking, listen to some really great guest speakers and even get some people-watching in—we librarians are a weird, socially retarded lot, I think.
The 2.5 hr. ride out to Grand Rapids was lovely. I took in the scenic pieces of countryside that can be found the farther west you drive. The untouched pieces of Michigan not too far north, still quiet in its farm splendor; freshly churned dark, rich fields waiting to yield crops; the lush smell of country seeping into the vents of the car and making me homesick for my old farm life, and smells of animals and tractor fumes and fresh cut grass and freshly agitated soil.
The conference was held at the beautiful Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, which is a historic old hotel complete with the most dazzling and ornate furniture and decorative pieces throughout. My room was in the old section of the hotel where a beautiful fountain surrounded by roses is located, with the main room surrounded by little side wings where bars are nestled into the crannies. It was one of those marvelous hotels where no small detail is ignored down to the smallest fresh flowers in crystal bowls and vases on the tables. If you are ever in the area check it out.
Some of the highlights of the weekend were the guest speakers, my favorites were Judith Schachner (author of the Skippy John Jones series of books among many others); 2007 Mitten Award Winner and also Newberry Honor book winner for RULES-Cynthia Lord; 2007 Thumbs Up Award Winner Pete Hautman (author of many books, there to speak about his newest Rash); and children’s musician and all around amazingly funny entertainer/teacher Jim Gill, who had us up and acting like idiots in no time—and having a good time while doing it. The venue is such that you can actually go up and talk to the guest speaks, which enabled me to be able to ask Pete Hautman questions about one of his books (Mr. Was), which I read in the fall; and also chat with Cyndi Lord while she signed a copy of her book for me.
Overall, it was a really interesting opportunity, only made better by the fact that the library paid for everything. And yet, the end of the conference only marked the mid-point of my busy few days.