Well into our conference, good news continued with regards to on-site registrations. Registration numbers continued to climb upwards totaling late this afternoon to 375. YEAH! I had stressed early in the planning stages when I heard about plans to have a local high school choir perform as a part of the opening ceremony. When their melodic voices reached the audience and attendee faces beamed with acceptance, I knew it was okay. They were spectacular! Nestled in the heart of the civil right’s capital, Birmingham, our opening session speaker, Dr. Terrence Roberts of the famed “Little Rock Nine,” was all we could have hoped for in a keynoter. Both engaging and entertaining, he filled the atmosphere with serenity as he revisited the 1957 integration saga, comparing the challenges of yesterday with those of today. His message while focusing on acceptance, spoke directly to rejection in its’ many forms. He asked the audience to listen carefully for the voice of urgency, to hear it, and then to answer. According to Dr. Roberts, each of us has a calling. What is it? Will we answer? Whether it be to serve, to speak or to simply take action, ultimately we all must care enough to confront. Several attendees took the time to offer hugs and congratulations, affirming that the conference was off to a great start. Though I was unable to attend any of the regular workshops, I did hear lots of favorable comments. In particular, the MBA for librarians series was very well received.
Issues with registration, with technology, with speaker request and with juggling food and beverage numbers, each have called me to another form of action. I have apologized more times in the last two days for my worried, somewhat panicky tone of voice. I have confessed to being a perfectionist. But, for the more than 200 folks who stood up yesterday as a first time attendee, it is my hope that this conference will leave a lasting impression on them. It is to that end that I will work steadfastly.
Tonight we were welcomed by the Birmingham Public Library, who hosted the all conference reception. Staff of the library combined their talents in a “Cotton Club” themed band. Watch out, they just might give the ZSR staff a run for the money. The concluding song, “We Are Family” sung by both the current and previous library directors, showcased a magnificent display of courage. Fun was had by all.