The Society of School Librarians

2011 Annual Conference

Savannah On My Mind

Savannah was a perfect Southern Belle as we enjoyed several days of Southern hospitality during our October 2011 SSLI Annual Conference.  The Hilton Savannah Desoto Hotel was a further extension of that hospitality.   Our members enjoyed the central location, hearty breakfasts, and friendly, helpful service.  Remember this was the South.  We may not have eaten healthy, but we did eat well. The food was good and the atmosphere historic at the centuries old Pirate’s House Restaurant  You could just see her smiling face and the batches of butter as we enjoyed the buffet at Paula Deen’s Lady and Sons Restaurant.

As usual, our diligent, hardworking book reviewers did an excellent job Wednesday night.  The fruits of their labor appear in the 2011 SSLI Best Book Awards list.  The evening was also a chance for our members to catch up with each other since we last met.

Thursday was a bit chilly, but the sun was shining and we had a chance to enjoy the charms of Savannah.  It was a bit bumpy as our trolley took us along the cobblestoned waterfront area with its many shops and restaurants.  We were taken back to Savannah’s elegant past in a visit to the Owens-Thomas House, a splendid example of an English Regency-style home.   The Juliette Gordon Low House was equally impressive and historically significant because it is the birthplace of our founder of the Girl Scouts of America.  I was hoping to buy some thin mint cookies, but there were no cookies on sale at that time.  Our visit to the magnificent Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was another highlight of our day.

We want to thank all of our Friday speakers.  Our two authors, Sheron Coffey and Bess Chappas were happy to personally autograph copies of their books, Hannah Banana and Kiki and the Red Shoes for purchase by our members.  Our members enjoyed each presentation and will now be able to share these books with others at home.

Most of our speakers were former teachers.  Ted Eldridge was also a principal and university instructor.  We all enjoyed his stories about Savannah and were sorry there was not enough time to hear even more of them.  On a walk the next morning, Jeannie and I encountered Ted leading a group of people on one of his walking tours of Savannah.  We were glad to see each other again.  Ted reminded us that we are all now friends and not just strangers in Savannah.

Lillian-Grant Baptise got us all participating and involved in her lively Gullah-style stories.  Once again, we ran out of time as she had other commitments and we needed to break for lunch.

Our final speaker of the day was a bit of a departure from our usual presenters.  A. Dragonblood AKA Bryan Woods was our first Goth.  He soon won us over with tales of his many experiences as a children’s author, screenwriter and ghostwriter for some well-known television series.  Young Will and his proud grandparents were enthralled.

We ended the afternoon with our annual SSLI membership meeting.  People signed up to review books for the coming year.  We also discussed plans for next years’ meeting.  The prospect of meeting in Aruba met with general approval.  Jeannie and I have been working on the possibility.  We have been in contact with someone from the Aruba Tourist Authority.  She should be getting back in touch with us shortly with the names of potential speakers and the cost of a bus for a one day tour of the island.  We have already been to Aruba and have a hotel in mind and have two or three possible restaurants to check out.  We hope to plan a conference for next October.  Please let us know if any dates in October 2012 are bad for you.  We will keep you informed about our plans for 2012.

We also need to thank Alissa Boyd from the Savannah Public Library for all her assistance.  She was most helpful in recommending potential speakers for our conference.  We hope that she was able to make good use of the books we donated to her library.

Before you left, I hope you had a chance to experience Wagaween in Savannah.  That Saturday, people dressed their dogs in costumes and came downtown where the store owners handed out doggie treats.  It was a lot of fun.  We saw some interesting signs and Jeannie got to pet a lot of dogs on our walk around town.

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