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  • 29 Jan 2023 8:41 PM | Anonymous


    We’re rolling! 

    Timelines are being set. Meetings are being scheduled. Seriously, we had so many meetings this week. And I feel SOOOOOO good about where we are right now.

    Heath, Jennifer Abel, Jenny Umbarger, and I met with Koury to talk about their proposal to move the conference there for the next bit. They are putting something formal together and we’ll look at it when it arrives. Later that same day, Heath and I met with Benton and that was FANTASTIC! I wish we had done that sooner. We sent them our tentative conference schedule and they were able to make magic happen. So now we have space for everything we wanted and we can start scheduling Featured Speakers!! I am ridiculously relieved that that part is done. I am grateful to Ayshen and Shelly at Benton for their patience and their amazing ideas. 

    Heath, Colleen, Jenny and I met Saturday afternoon to finalize the vendor stuff. That will go out February 1 to everyone, so if you know someone who would like to be a vendor you can send them the information! Please send the information. We need to have all the vendors we can so we can afford to do the stuff I’m planning. Who knew I had so many expensive ideas? LOL Eek.

    And Heath was on the phone all week long. He scheduled the calls with Benton and Koury. He has been working tirelessly to arrange rooms at Embassy. By next year, he will be a complete pro because he is learning trial by fire this year, for sure. His tenacity is a thing of legend at this point. 

    One of the things I’m hoping to add this year is a party. A real party with a DJ and drinks and food and dancing. We’re calling it NCSLMA-Jama and hope everyone will be able to attend. It’ll be in Benton Friday night at 7:30-ish so you don’t even have to go anywhere else! Bring your cardigans and boogie down! If you’re not laughing at that, you should be.  

    We’re still planning to send the call to present out February 6-ish. Jenny sent me some stuff that I neglected to look at this weekend, so hopefully I can get all that done Monday night. Selected presenters will receive discounted registration of $75 for the main presenter. We are also going to have some special edition presenter-specific swag as a thank you. We’re excited to see what great ideas you all have! And don’t forget the magic themed title (not required, but would be fun!). 

    I remain grateful every day for Heath for his patience with me as we bumble through this together. And there is no way I would feel any kind of confidence at all without the mentorship and support of Jennifer, Jenny, Bitsy, and Cindy. You all are amazing and I cannot say Thank You enough. 

    As always, if you have any thoughts or suggestions for conference, send them to me ( or Heath ( 

    Have a great week and I’ll keep you updated!
  • 11 Jan 2023 12:14 PM | Anonymous

    Welcome back to hot mess central! 

    Not really, but when you're in the thick of it and have a worst case scenario immediately mindset, it feels like it. :-)

    We don’t have a ton of new stuff to share this week. The biggest item is that we still don’t have enough space at Benton. We have been back and forth with them, but our last response was over a week ago and we haven’t heard back. We are in a literal standstill because we can’t book speakers until we know when ( or even if) we can accommodate them. We can’t plan events or open up vendor registration because we don’t know if we’ll have to move the timeline of the conference. Having enough space is KEY to having a successful or even adequate conference and we are at the mercy of Benton to make sure we have it.

    While we’re waiting on Benton, we are working on some behind-the-scenes stuff. 

    • The Vendor registration form should be completed this week so whenever we have the space issue settled, that can go out and vendors can start signing up. 

    • The Call to Present form is being worked on (Thank you Jenny Umbarger!) so we can get that out in early February. If you haven’t started thinking about presenting at NCSLMA, start thinking today!

    • We are investigating which scheduling app to use at conference. We have used Sched for the past few years, but there are other options available now. If you know of any, let us know! 

    • The conference webpages are slowly being built and should be public when the Vendor Information goes out, but definitely by the time the Call to Present goes out.

    • The PR Committee meets later this week and will go over specific duties and work on a plan for everything Magic and NCSLMA.

    Several members of the Conference Committee met Sunday for a check in and catch up so everyone knows what’s going on. After I moaned and complained for 20 minutes about lack of space, we finished the rest of the meeting quickly.

    And since I’m late getting this out, I can add the PR Committee stuff. We met Tuesday afternoon and I am so thrilled with what Mandy Keziah is doing with the team. They are building a multi-platform Conference playlist so you can get in Magic Mode while on your way to Conference. They are also working on getting us discounts and prizes from local businesses so we can pass those on to our attendees. And I’m REALLY excited about our “Magic In Your Library” project. We’ll be asking for you to submit ways you see and create magic in your library. We want to know the small magics and the big magics. This will be a social media bonanza and we’ll get to show the world what magic is happening in NC School Libraries. That form will be going out soon so you can start sharing your magic!

    As always, if you have any thoughts or suggestions for conference, send them to me ( or Heath ( 

    Have a great week and keep making that magic happen!

  • 19 Dec 2022 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    Where did the last three weeks go???

    I'm sure we're all in the same boat and this month has been BUSY for all of us outside of conference planning. BUT we did get some things accomplished this past week. I met with the PR Committee and it was such a great meeting. Mandy Keziah has this group off to a great start. I was thrilled to see how she took our humble initial ideas and is running with them and making them even better. They will start really going in early January. Be on the lookout for information from them on their side of conference planning. 

    Heath and I met with Colleen Graham to go over Vendor stuff. We’re going to have a larger vendor space and while that is awesome for our attendees (and bottom line), it does make for more work, so we needed to get on the same page and get ready for the craziness that will be January. During this meeting, we promoted Colleen to Assistant Co-Director of Conference, which isn’t exactly a title yet, we made it up, but it seemed appropriate since she’ll need to know everything going on conference-wise to be the vendor liaison. :-) We had a really fantastic brainstorm session and decided to change some things up so we can keep our Conference fresh. 

    • Change #1:The cost of food at Benton is ASTRONOMICAL. Like, seriously, ridiculously high, and went even higher for this past conference, with no sign of coming back down. Our food minimum is $12,000 and meals start at $36 per person. Snacks start at $10 per person per 30 minutes. Check out the menu here to see what we’re working with:
      We discussed and discussed and discussed (we met for almost 2.5 hours!) and decided we had two options: 1) Increase the cost of registration by $20 across the board to be able to cover the big meal for everyone. 2) Ask that people who want the big meal to add $20 to their registration to cover half the cost. It’ll be an Italian buffet, $40-$50 per person. We chose Option 2 because when we go to conferences, sometimes it’s fun to find your own food and do we really go to a conference for the convention center food? There will not be a keynote during this lunch time. It would be a time for relaxation and camaraderie. There will also be no extra tickets, so if you don’t buy the ticket up front, you will need to eat in one of the fantastic restaurants around Benton. But fear not! Our PR Committee will be putting together a list of restaurants that support NCSLMA. 

    • Change #2: We are making sure there are times for breaks, snacks, and drinks throughout the day. By having part of the big meal covered, it helps us spread the love around. 

    • Change #3: Instead of having an author panel, we will have a storyteller’s panel to match this year’s theme. We are working on getting professional storytellers from all different points of view to share with us how they make magic happen via storytelling. Storytelling is such a huge part of our jobs and I am really excited at the prospect of having professional storytellers there. 

    • Change #4: (tentative) The Vendor Reception may be going away. I have reached out to some vendors to see what their thoughts are on it. It is not well attended and the food for it would cost around $6,000. It may be time for something new. 

    • Change #5: We heard from a lot of you that the workshops weren’t well-attended. So in 2023, we will only have a couple of workshops, but they will be given by our storytellers and/or keynotes on Saturday. We know Saturday is usually sparsely attended, but with our main keynote (fingers crossed) being Saturday morning and these professional workshops afterwards, we are hoping you will stay and get the full conference experience. 

    Then I met with Bitsy and Cindy to talk about some ideas they had that jived exactly with the changes we had in mind and we talked through all of those and potential issues that might come up. It helps so much to have the guidance and support of people who have done it before. I looped Heath in on that and he has sent off a request to Benton and Embassy to see if we can make some of these happen. Due to meeting space constraints at Benton, there may have to be more and bigger changes, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, hopefully sooner rather than later. I'm a planner and not having things lined up in plenty of time stresses me out. Heath is having a heck of a time getting people at Benton and Embassy to return e-mails. The struggles we're having make Koury Convention Center and its one-stop-shop look really good right now. 

    I say it every time and I still can’t say it enough. I am so grateful for the people who are helping with Conference. I don’t know how anyone can do all this with just a couple of people. We literally have a minimum of eighteen people helping with all of this. It is definitely taking a village and I hope we are laying the groundwork for an easier conference-planning experience for everyone in the future. 

    If you have questions, ideas, comments, etc., feel free to e-mail me at or Heath at

  • 28 Nov 2022 2:48 PM | Anonymous

    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 | Anonymous

    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 | Anonymous

    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 | Anonymous

    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 | Anonymous

    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 | Anonymous

    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 | Anonymous

    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. 


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:
3333 N. Main Street
Suite 150 #126
Hope Mills, NC 28348

Meet the Board


We provide various ways to connect with librarians across the state. 
Connect here or via social media.

NCSLMA is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization (2024 W9)

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