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  • 28 Nov 2022 2:48 PM | Kristy Sartain (Administrator)

    After taking a break for Thanksgiving, we are back in full force with conference planning! Heath and I met with our new Conference Committee Chairs this past weekend. Thank you so much for stepping up! Mandy Keziah is our new PR Chair. Colleen Graham is our new Vendors Chair. Marcia Wingerd is our new Technology Chair. And Emily Golightly is our new Keynote Chair. During our meeting, we went over some basics about what their jobs will be, the expectations of the positions and communications, and then we answered questions. We hope this is the beginning of a fruitful, productive year of planning and fellowship. 

    The weekend prior, I met with Cindy (Heath was having technical difficulties) about the Benton space and how to plan the vendor room and session space and eating space. We’re thinking about moving the vendor hall downstairs so we can have more vendors in attendance. We did have to turn vendors away for this past conference because of the limited space for them. In the downstairs Piedmont Ballroom 3, we can have up to 44 vendors. That will also free up some space to have sessions. We would then be able to use the upstairs Winston 1 as three meeting spaces, giving us 10 rooms for sessions. ***But then I just looked at our contract again and we don’t have the downstairs Piedmont rooms at all on it. So we’re back to the drawing board…and e-mailing Benton to see what we can do. The fun never ends. 

    Seriously, it is not easy planning a conference. You have no idea how grateful I am for Heath, Cindy, Bitsy, and the entire conference planning team. My last e-mail had as the subject “I might be freaking out a little”. Which as everyone knows is going to be just great news. Stay tuned each week for more conference news!

  • 17 Nov 2022 8:59 AM | Kristy Sartain (Administrator)

    This week we had a meeting of people who are interested in helping out with conference planning. We're "hiring" volunteers for three committees - PR, Vendors, and Technology. Twenty-six people showed up for the meeting and many of them have already applied to be on a committee. We're excited to see that so many people are willing to help. You are all appreciated!!

    I have started playing with conference budget numbers because apparently I don't have enough stress in my life.  Food is the #1 expense for a conference and we will only have a vague idea of how much it is until we submit final menus and attendance numbers 4-6 weeks before the conference.  However, the rental costs of the space and the technology are a really close second. The convention center will cost us $23,000 and then $17,000 more for the technology and vendor hall setup. Our required food minimum is $12,000, but that would *just* cover two days of breakfasts (one continental and one small buffet) that will feed 300 people each. Our hope/goal/plan is to feed 300 people breakfast for Friday and Saturday as well as hors d'oeuvres on Thursday evening, and 500 people for dinner Friday night. As of right now with this plan, the food will cost around $55,000, around $110 per person.  And that is IFF (if and only if) food costs don't go up again. So we’re looking at $95,000 before keynotes, authors, and registration gifts. 

    So how do we pay for it? We have had anywhere from 400-550 people attend conference. Around 70% of attendees take advantage of the early bird rates and 17% get presenter rates. There is never enough from registration costs alone to cover the conference and that is one of the reasons we absolutely love our vendor support. And we haven’t even talked about keynote or author fees. Or other miscellaneous conference expenses that come up. Or registration gifts. Or …. 

    This is our yearly dilemma. How do we provide the very best conference experience we can on a moving target of a budget? As we go through the year, we’ll talk more about this and how hard we’re working to be good stewards of your and NCSLMA’s money because we REALLY want to offer a great conference experience and who doesn't love being fed and gifted and able to listen to amazing keynote speakers and authors?

    Have a great week!

  • 7 Nov 2022 11:44 AM | Kristy Sartain (Administrator)

    This week was somewhat quiet on the conference front. I have been searching for swag for our members. If you get a chance, fill out this form so we can see what you would like to have as a registration gift. We don't want to get things you won't use. I did receive a sample of the planner I really want to get and I am really happy with it.

    We sent an e-mail out to all our members recruiting for conference committee members. That meeting is Tuesday (11/8) at 7:30pm. If you are interested in attending, it's not too late! Check out the event at Conference Help Meeting. You can sign up to attend the meeting or fill out the included form to receive more information after the meeting. 

    Heath has been working to get quotes for Conference 2024 and beyond. He's also working with Marriott and Embassy to fine-tune the room requirement. We have to have so many rooms reserved for the conference dates so everyone receives a discounted rate. As expensive as they are, they're even more expensive without that discount. And there's a lot to be said for the convenience of being able to walk to Benton and not have to worry about parking every day.

    Heath and I are meeting tonight to go over the agenda for the meeting tomorrow. I would say that shouldn't take too long, but when we get together, we talk. A lot. A whole lot. :-) 

    In the next few weeks, we will be firming up committees and chairs and inviting keynote speakers, authors, etc. to attend and sign contracts. We will also be working on vendor contracts to get as much lined up as early in advance as we can. Things will really start rockin' and rollin' so stay tuned for more updates on what is going on behind the scenes!

  • 31 Oct 2022 9:17 AM | Kristy Sartain (Administrator)

    We got a lot done this week!

    Heath and I met on Tuesday, Oct. 25 for a couple of hours to get ourselves in the game and on the right path. It was a great meeting and definitely needed. We worked on the overall conference schedule by day and discussed some options, benefits, and drawbacks of doing things this way or that way. We heard from several people during this conference and wanted to make sure to include the feedback in a meaningful way that made sense, so hopefully it will end up being beneficial. 

    Then Bitsy Griffin, Cindy Studivant, Heath, and I met for a couple of hours on Sunday, Oct. 30, and it was AMAZING! We got so much done. We discussed the thoughts Heath and I had on the scheduling and made some changes based on the experience of Bitsy and Cindy. We talked about weaving the theme of storytelling throughout the conference and we were all really excited about incorporating as many diverse stories and voices as possible. I have already reached out to a couple of people/groups and am hopeful these will result in a Yes! I took four pages of notes from that meeting. Afterwards, Heath and I set up a to do list and divvied up the tasks. We're planning a couple of meetings in the upcoming weeks to firm up some more things and to ask for help, so be ready to answer the call! :-)

    I did purchase the popular rhinestone lanyards that Jennifer Abel bought for this past conference. I ordered 700 of them for a total cost of $162, which is ridiculously low thanks to a bulk overstock website. Lanyards are usually $1 each, so yay!!

    We're already looking at the food setup and what we're going to have available for everyone and when. Because food is a HUGE chunk of the conference budget, we're trying to be good stewards of NCSLMA money, while also providing a good experience for our attendees. It is definitely a balancing act.

    One thing we are going back and forth on - Swag. What would you like to receive for your registration? The bags seemed to be popular this past year. If you don't mind, fill out this form and let us know what you would like. 

    We are happy to receive feedback and suggestions. E-mail us at or if you have thoughts or suggestions. 

    Until next week!

  • 24 Oct 2022 9:25 AM | Kristy Sartain (Administrator)

    This week's post will be short and bittersweet. 

    When I get overwhelmed, sometimes I shut completely down and retreat into a little mental cave where I think if I ignore it, something will get done or it will just go away. That's what this week was for me. Unfortunately, there is not a Conference Fairy that will POOF with their magic wand and everything is planned and perfect. 

    But moving in a positive direction, I'm meeting with Heath this week and we're getting back on track to plan what will hopefully be a fantastic conference experience. 

    Oh, I did find more of those rhinestone lanyards, so they'll probably get ordered soon. ;) 

    If you have any ideas on what you would like to have at conference, feel free to share them here

  • 16 Oct 2022 7:08 PM | Kristy Sartain (Administrator)

    First of all, how have I not posted anything since APRIL??? I'm so sorry about that! 

    Second, Jennifer Abel, current President-Elect of NCSLMA, planned Conference 2022 and I am not looking forward to following the awesomeness that it was. She did a great job and I'm thrilled she'll be helping with the planning of this one.

    Third, NCSLMA's Conference could not happen without a slew of people to work on it. You'll see a lot of different names over the next year, some familiar, some not, but everyone who helps is appreciated so much more than I can say. 

    T-50 Weeks

    Just under one year to go for Conference 2023. 

    The theme next year is Magic Happens Here: The magic of books, libraries, and librarians. There is a fun thread in the NCSLMA School Librarians Facebook group about using session titles that are magic-themed. Feel free to join in! We’re keeping this theme in mind when planning every aspect of conference, from swag to speakers to advertising and social media. 

    Speaking of keynote speakers, we’re also brainstorming who to invite. Keynote speakers are not free. We pay them a stipend to speak, but we also pay for their travel expenses and hotel accommodations while at the conference. Same for our authors. We love and appreciate everyone that shares their talents at conference.

    Since Conference 2022 ended two weeks ago, we have contacted a couple of convention centers to inquire about potentially moving the conference there starting in 2024. Our contract at Benton is up with the 2023 Conference and we are trying to find a location that will be a good fit. 

    For the 2023 conference, we are brainstorming what swag we will buy for our members for when they check in. We are considering a planner that has a notebook and address book integrated into it. While it would be a fun little thing, it would also allow you to take down contact information, social media information, and slide deck links in one spot. We’re also looking for more rhinestone lanyards because they were SUPER popular and we ran out. :-)  The bags were also popular, so we’ll try to get those as well. If you have other ideas, feel free to let Kristy or Heath know. or 

    Because we have a Conference Director for the first time, we are working to figure out exactly what the duties of President-Elect will be going forward and what the Conference Director duties will be. That will probably be an ever-changing document, but having guidelines will make things much easier in the future. I am fortunate to have Heath Radford as the Conference Director so we can build the position together. He is full of ideas and although I’ve already had to tell him No a few times, he doesn’t seem to hate me yet. ;) He is invaluable as a sounding board and idea man and I know he will help make our next few conferences amazing. We will be putting out blog posts about once a week to let you know what goes on behind the scenes of planning a statewide conference for 400+ people. We hope this gives you a better idea of how much work it is and the struggles we encounter as we plan. It is not an overnight process. We’re already starting working on the 2024 conference and it’s only 2022! 

    Have an idea for conference? Add it on this Google Form.

  • 28 Apr 2022 3:10 PM | Kristy Sartain (Administrator)

    It's that time of year for applying for stuff and NCSLMA is no exception. Applications are now open for our Awards, Scholarships, and Grants. We have several opportunities for our members to earn money and accolades. 

    Check out the Awards webpage on the NCLMSA website for more information and the applications. The deadline for all of these is May 31, 2022.


    • Media Coordinator of the Year - Presented to a media coordinator in recognition of outstanding performance in the school library media center. Nominees must be a member of NCSLMA
    • Frances Bryant Bradburn Distinguished Service - Presented to an individual or organization for noteworthy contributions to NCSLMA and/or school library media programs throughout the state. 
    • Administrator of the Year - Presented to an administrator (see website for eligibility) who has made an outstanding contribution to advancing the role of the school library media program in the state. 


    • Better Together - available to K-12 NCSLMA media coordinators, in partnership with classroom teachers, for innovative projects that foster the integration of media/information skills in the K-12 curriculum.
    • Conference First Time Attendee - available for first time in-person conference attendees. Two awards of $500 each will be given to help with travel, hotel, and/or registration fees.


    NCSLMA presents two $1,000 scholarships toward MLS completion to increase the number and quality of school library media personnel in NC. Applicants must be a member of NCSLMA and in good academic standing with an accredited school of Library Science within the UNC system. The graduate course must have been completed during the previous twelve months with a grade of B or better. 

  • 18 Feb 2022 11:13 AM | Kristy Sartain (Administrator)

    NCSLMA is BUSY this season!

    Our Winter Tune-Up is wrapping up today and we had 200 members sign up. Thank you to our presenters and to Robin Rhodes for all her behind-the-scenes work to get everything organized and working. It is not too late (but it won't be up long) to sign up to have access to the sessions and videos. Click on Events and register for it today. 

    Our Brew Crew this month was HOPPING! We had our biggest turnout yet and some of us might have been on for three hours. *looks around innocently and spots Katie and Faith also looking around* If you haven’t joined one yet, please consider it. We’re adding a monthly nighttime Brew Crew on Fourth Fridays, so those who are not morning people can participate, too. After Jeopardy, of course. ;) 

    The Battle of the Books lists were published and are AWESOME! The committees worked super hard to get them narrowed down and we are grateful to everyone involved in that process. If you would like to volunteer for your region’s Battle of the Books committee, check HERE to see each level’s coordinator and let them know you are interested. The goal is to have at least three members per region per level. Volunteering is a great way to get involved with NCSLMA and help lighten the load for those who are carrying a heavy one.

    We want to share what you are doing in your library, community, etc. Consider writing an article or blurb for our newsletter and/or blog. Requests for news go out around the 20th of each month. To submit a blog article, e-mail it to

    Check out the Resources Forum on the NCSLMA website. We are slowly (very, very slowly) building a lesson plan repository, but we need your help! Librarians are known for sharing great ideas. Please consider putting your awesome lesson plans to paper, well Google Doc, and share with others. There is a forum for each level, but feel free to post in multiple levels if they pertain. There is also a forum for resources in general, such as Google Applied Digital Skills. It will take a community effort to make it a fantastic resource and we would love your participation. 

    Conference call to present will be happening soon. Start thinking about sharing your awesome ideas with all of NCSLMA. As a thank you for sharing, presenters receive reduced conference registration fees. Be on the lookout for an e-mail with more information on February 28. 

    We are here to support and promote school librarianship across North Carolina. If you have a need, reach out and let us know. We're all in this together. Bonus points in the game of life if you sang that last line. :-)

  • 24 Jan 2022 12:43 PM | Kristy Sartain (Administrator)

    Today the ALA released their Youth Media Awards and Honor Books. I am particularly excited about several of these titles because I had the opportunity to listen to them via the Educator audiobook program. If you are not part of that program, please check it out. 

    Here is the Youth Media Awards page. And here is the press release page announcing all the winners and honor titles. 

    Which if these have you read and enjoyed? Which ones are you most excited about sharing with your students? 

  • 20 Dec 2021 9:24 AM | Kristy Sartain (Administrator)

    I do a Goodreads challenge every year by randomly selecting a number of books that I think I can read during the year. I never hit it, but I still read 70-120 books each year. We're librarians. We read, right?

    In 2020, I really thought I would read 100 books. Like, I was CONFIDENT I would read them. And when the pandemic hit, I KNEW I would be able to read that many books. How many did I end up reading? 45. 

    I had pandemic depression. And that made me not take any pleasure in reading. I was stressed about working from home with three other people in the house, all also working or learning from home. I was stressed about the hundreds of e-mails I received from students and teachers about technology not working. I was stressed by the bombardment of e-mails about tech resources and online teaching resources. (This was when I decided to only send one e-mail a week.) I was stressed about cancelling vacations and not seeing my parents. I was stressed about everything. I was even stressed about not being able to read or enjoy reading. It. Was. Bad. 

    I knocked my goal down to 40 in November of 2020 because I was pretty sure I could at least get to that number. I did and I passed it, barely. This year, I set my goal to a doable 90. Not going to hit that, either. In one of my Facebook book groups, someone mentioned how stressful it was to set a reading goal and gradually see yourself fall behind. Many of us replied with Just Change It!. I do. I don't feel bad about that. My current goal is 80, which I changed a few weeks ago. I am at 75 right now, but I am reading three books (okay, one is an audiobook) and I have a couple in queue that I should be able to finish. 

    I don't do reading challenges where you have to read one book of this genre or a book by an author with your initials. Those don't really appeal to me. Mostly because I am a firm believer in reading whatever the heck you want. Make no apologies for the books that bring you pleasure. We encourage our students to read what they enjoy. Make sure to extend yourself the same permission. 


NCSLMA is a professional organization dedicated to supporting, promoting, and empowering school librarians across the state as they transform their school communities.


Membership is $50 per year and comes with numerous benefits and professional development opportunities. 
Join or learn more here. 


Mailing address:
151 NC Highway 9 Suite B #188
Black Mountain, NC 28711

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We provide various ways to connect with librarians across the state. 
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NCSLMA is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization (2023 W9)

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