Sunday, August 14, 2011

Authors' Breakfast - IASL Conference

The International Association of School Librarianship held its annual conference here in Jamaica, from August 7 - 11, at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies. Thursday, August 11, was the authors' breakfast attended by local authors and participants from the conference. There were some eight Jamaican children's authors in attendance, and conference participants were from Jamaica, as well as countries as far away as the UK, USA, Australia and Malaysia. The programme was an interesting one: Dr. Cherrell Shelley-Robinson, herself a writer, was the facilitator and she read poetry from numerous Caribbean writers. Patricia Cuff, storyteller and author, dressed in storytelling regalia, gave a lively performance of an Anancy story. Spicy Fingers, performance poet, delighted us with his drumming and his poetry. I was the main speaker and my presentation was entitled Celebrating our own Experiences: The Inspiration and Insights of a Jamaican Children's Author.

It was a great idea to celebrate our children's authors and share them with librarians in this way. We enjoyed meeting librarians and they enjoyed meeting us. I was able to chat briefly with those at my table, and then after the formal presentations, had a most interesting chat with two overseas librarians, one from the UK and the other from the USA.

It would be great if there were more opportunities like this. We have book launches of course, and readings, where this opportunity is afforded our adult authors, but I mean other opportunities for children's authors to meet with the readers/gatekeepers and tell them about our writing. I'll think about this some more. Of course, even when we meet with overseas persons, we do not know how we will get copies of our books to them should they wish to buy them. As a group, we need to do more networking on this. Many of us are thinking about it, investigating print on demand opportunities, getting our books onto Amazon, yet unsure how to proceed. Needed and agent? a distributor? a facilitator?

Photos: Pat Cuff, storyteller; Spicy Fingers, performance poet; me at podium; Krystal, (who opted for just her first name) enthusiastic student, Library Information Science, who had her picture taken with me. It's great to know that young keen librarians are out there set to carry on the tradition of our great librarians.

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