2023 KLAS Users' Conference

  • 2023 Julie Klauber Award Finalists

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    Congratulations to Kimberly Tomlinson, Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, and Maggie Witte, Kansas State Library, Talking Books Service, our two finalists for the 2023 Julie Klauber Award!The text

    You have each made a significant impact on your library, patrons, and your community! We hope sharing selections from the nomination submitted for you lets both you and others see just how much work you have done and how your efforts inspire others.

    The selected recipient of this year's award will be honored during a ceremony held on Monday, July 17 in Nashville, TN as part of the 2023 KLAS Users' Conference.

    Nominee: Kimberly Tomlinson, Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library

    Nominated by: Zarina Mohd Shah, Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library

    What service(s) has the nominee done in the spirit of Julie Klauber?

    Kim's work with the Audio & Braille Literacy Enhancement (ABLE) is one of her outstanding achievements. ABLE is a nonprofit organization that works with WTBBL by brailling and recording Wisconsin authors, our "Bulletin Board" quarterly newsletter, DVD catalogs, Milwaukee Magazine, and more. ABLE also provides essential services to the visually impaired and print disabled in local communities, schools, and other institutions and individuals nationwide, including braille transcriptions, tactile representations of graphs, diagrams, pictures, and audio recordings, at an affordable cost.

    ABLE relies on donations and grants to offer services for the print-disabled. In writing local grant proposals, ABLE needs, for instance, KLAS Readership and Circulation statistics to add support for their services. Kim performs the crucial role of diligently gathering and delivering valuable data to ABLE, including the number of WTBBL patrons in each county, circulation numbers of a recorded local author from a specific county, and other interesting facts from the KLAS data (and NLS BARD) ABLE could work with.

    The number of local grants received with help from data compiled by Kim from KLAS makes it possible for ABLE to offer their services. ABLE appreciates Kim's important role in supporting their organization and mission that has a lasting impact on our print-disabled communities.

    How do they affect your library / community and / or the KLAS Users’ Community?

    Kim's knowledge and understanding of KLAS were invaluable in assisting WTBBL's successful migration to the new DOD system at the end of 2021. In hindsight, our work seemed seamless during that busy period. Kim's efforts were instrumental in helping WTBBL staff complete the migration smoothly. For example, Kim trained staff to modify and update patron's records in preparation for DOD and for patrons to pick up their books in the new format. Kim's guidance helped us complete the migration smoothly. WTBBL staff appreciated the new system and shared the knowledge of the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the new DOD system with patrons. For instance, there are no longer due dates for digital audiobooks. WTBBL did our best with Kim's guidance and sealed our expectations of her as our KLAS Guru.

    Nominee: Maggie Witte, Kansas State Library Talking Books Service

    Nominated by: Michael Lang, Kansas State Library Talking Books Service 

    What service(s) has the nominee done in the spirit of Julie Klauber?

    Recently, Maggie has coordinated and led the network LBPD summer library reading program working group. The group allows library staff to share ideas for accessible summer reading programs. I don’t know if others agree, but I feel that NLS’s new commitment to providing resources to support summer reading is a direct result of this working group. Maggie is also an active member of the NLS summer reading committee.

    This year she created a circulating braille awareness kit. The kit, filled with braille books, games, and activities, will introduce sighted children to the braille alphabet and teach them the importance of braille for readers.

    Last year Maggie partnered with the Wamego Public library to provide braille overlay labels for their StoryWalk. Since then she has provided braille for four more Storywalks and plans to continue this project with WPL and hopefully expand to other libraries. She continues to lead virtual monthly and a quarterly book discussion groups and provides excellent individual service to our users.

    How do they affect your library / community and / or the KLAS Users’ Community?

    The summer reading resources shared from the working group and the increased support of NLS promise to create a much more robust and accessible summer reading program for talking book users nationwide and allow for libraries with fewer resources to provide a wonderful program.

    With her programs, she creates a community of patrons across Kansas, who share many commonalities, but due to distance may never had met if not for Maggie.

    She continues to advocate for and raise awareness of the accessibility needs of print disabled through activities like the StoryWalk, braille kit, and presentations at professional conferences.

    Overall, she provides empathetic friendly service to our patrons, working hard to find solutions that fit their needs.

  • KLAS Conference: A Perfect Tenn!

    A fried bologna sandwich with a bag of Lay’s potato chips, a PBR, & a Moon Pie strongly recommended by Michael Lang. Available at Robert’s Western World for the low price of six bucks.

    A guest blog post by Lee Anne Hooley, Worcester Talking Book Library

    July 17th-20th brought the opportunity for me to attend the KLAS conference that was held at the Tennessee School for the Blind in Nashville. This is my second in person conference since my career in the Talking Book world began back in 2018. The hybrid option is a fantastic option as well, but to me, there is nothing quite like coming together and learning.

    Many of the sessions employed a hands-on approach to it. For instance, “Care and Feeding of your Scribe.” I learned quite a bit on how to take things apart as needed, as well as the general anatomy of them. In addition to learning how to swap out parts, I was able to get some feedback and ideas from other colleagues on how to better utilize the barcode scanners.

    Two other sessions “Defining, Saving, and Sharing Queries” and “Exploring the WebOPAC,” featured worksheets. As much as I thought my school days were long over, it was really fun and challenging to not only have an assignment to help me improve me queries, but also it was great to be able to demo and add feedback to the new patron facing end of the WebOPAC. Having Katy and Nancy there and in person to answer questions when I got stuck or just to offer feedback and ideas was priceless.

    Of course, my favorite part of coming together was the sense of community we get from coming together. We’re in the process of starting up our recording studio program, and sitting at the bar every night (for a truly great happy hour, by the way) gave me ideas and lots of folks to contact when I have questions. Sometimes it can feel isolating being a talking book librarian as most of the folks who can relate are scattered around the country. Being able to sit at a table and casually ask questions or trade stories in a casual environment is so valuable.

    Last but not least, the amount of hilarity and inside jokes. Librarians are great people, and this group is no exception. From the Recession Special to Chandra’s future Grammy winning career to banana pudding everywhere to wayward goose alerts and parting shopping tips on how to get good deals on designer handbags, I laughed a lot with some fantastic folks and Maureen has all the selfies to prove it. Many thanks to the fine folks at Keystone for bringing us together. Can’t wait for to take on Indianapolis.

  • Planning the 2023 Users' Conference

    A large sign painted on a wall reading Welcome to the Tennessee School for the Blind, serving since 1844, with the initials tsb in fancy script in place of a logo. Hanging beneath that is a vinyl sign reading 2021-22 Best for All District.

    Are you looking forward to the next in-person KLAS conference? Or would you prefer to keep things online? Either way, I have some hopeful news: planning for the 2023 KLAS Users’ Conference is underway and picking up steam!

    Barring still more “unprecedented events,” UC 2023 will be held July 17-20, 2023 at the Tennessee School for the Blind in Nashville, TN. For those who can’t attend in person, we are looking into options for hybrid sessions, and plan to offer as much of the conference to you as possible. To facilitate this, we will likely be changing up the conference schedule, allowing in-person-only, hands-on content to occur in the mornings, and hybrid sessions to occur in the afternoon (when they will be reasonably timed across more time zones). Our goal is to ensure those attending in person get as much value for their travel as possible and provide a valuable experience for those who can’t join us in Tennessee, while ensuring both groups will be able to justify the expense to their funding agency.

    While we do not yet know what the registration fees will be, we will try to keep them as low as possible and still deliver a quality conference. Our top contender for the conference hotel has quoted us a nightly rate of $179 / night, which is below the 2022 government rate. We are researching transportation options to get everyone from the hotel to the school and back, and catered-in lunches will help keep daily meal costs reasonable. For online attendees, a minimal registration fee will help cover whatever equipment or software costs we incur to bring the afternoon sessions to you.

    Helping us to close in on the specifics, we just completed a site visit, checking out what has changed at TSB since 2019, investigating possible reception venues and caterers, and making sure the hotel is up to par.

    We have excellent Programming and Logistics Committees assembled who are digging into all the challenges of our first hybrid conference, as well as all the usual conference minutiae, but of course we need your help as well. How many people should we expect in-person or online? What precautions need to be in place to ensure everyone’s health and safety?

    Have a look at our proposed conference schedule, read on for a few teasers from our site visit, but also don’t miss completing our Pre-conference Planning Survey. With so much uncertainty, change, and opportunity for an amazing new conference format, we need your input this year more than ever!

    Site visit photos: 

    A man with short dark hair and a white t-shirt and face mask stands in front of a room filled with long tables and rolling chairs. In the front of the room is a projector screen, and there are two large monitors on the side wall. There are windows into another indoor space, plus higher windows to let in natural light, including a large round window at the peak of the sloped ceiling.

    Allen Huang, Director of the Tennessee Instructional Resource Center, shows us the school's atrium, which is excellent for general sessions with its comfortable chairs, large projection screen, and monitors set up to mirror the front screen. 

    The school librarian is a woman with tightly curled red hair and a purple t-shirt. Beside her is Dr. Hung, Katy, who has braided hair, glasses, a green face mask, and a green shirt with ferns and moths printed on it, and James, who has a black face mask and a blue plaid shirt, and who is waving to the camera. The library has shelves with books and other materials, a large front desk, and an area of comfortable-looking arm chairs and sofas arranged in a semi-circle.

    The school librarian shows Keystone staff Katy and James their conversation area, which is a good fit for casual networking or just decompressing between conference sessions.

    The hotel lobby, showing scattered seating and side tables, and a semicircular bar at the far end. The wall to the left of the viewer is mostly glass, looking out on outdoor seating, a pool, and a lawn. Overhead, round hanging lights contribute to a fun atmosphere.

    The hotel has plenty of hang-out space split between the interior lobby and the outdoor courtyard. The pool will be a welcome amenity come July, and there is an indoor gym, hot breakfast, all-day coffee, and a bar. There are a couple restaurants and convenience stores within walking distance, or biking distance on one of the hotel's bicycles. 

    Katy and James smiling at a restaurant table. James is waving to the camera again, and both have plates in front of them with biscuits and cornbread. There is also ice tea and a white gravy visible on the table. The background shows the restaurant's historical architectural features, including a marble fireplace, built-in shelves, and chandeliers, plus eclectic antique décor.

    James and Katy trying out the food at a possible reception venue, Monell's at the Manor, which is a family-style restaurant in a historic mansion. If we move forward with this venue, we would have exclusive access--only Users' Conference attendees and restaurant staff would be present, and there is a ton of room to spread out and for air to circulate. They serve fantastic Southern food in a unique and fun environment.

    I hope you enjoyed this sneak preview! As we get further along planning the conference we'll have more to share, but for now, please tell us about your plans and preferences by answering the Pre-conference Planning Survey!

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Keystone Systems, Inc.
8016 Glenwood Ave., Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27612