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ABOS Annual Conference Wrap-up

By Jan Meadows, Bookmobile Supervisor, Pikes Peak (CO) Library District

It seems I am always returning from a conference when I write these columns. I will admit right here in print, I am a conference addict!  I love hearing new ideas and learning about new programs and processes at the sessions, and visiting with the vendors (okay, and getting their freebies!).  I thrive on the networking with the other attendees as I have gotten some of the best information that way.  Conferences equate to a shot of adrenaline into my bloodstream for me.  I feel energized and rejuvenated when I return to work.  So, lucky me, I just came back from St. Louis, MO and the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) Annual Conference, which was yet another excellent experience.

My favorite part of the conference this time however, was, as chairperson of the John Philip Award Committee, presenting the award to a very deserving person.

A few ABOS members who wanted to honor John Philip, “Mr. Bookmobile”, founded the award at the 2006 conference.  Fittingly, the first recipient was John Philip!  Without John our conferences would not be in existence today.  He started them back in the ‘80s and was the driving force that kept them going in the early years.  Upon his retirement from the Ohio State Library he joined forces with Dr. Bernard Vavrek of Clarion University and together they kept the much-needed conference alive and thriving.  The award founders, and this year’s first award committee, envisioned it as a coveted award, the “Bookmobile Oscar”, which would be selected impartially and awarded annually to someone who has made significant contributions to the Bookmobile and Outreach Field.

This year’s recipient was Carol Hole, retired (2006) Outreach Coordinator of the Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL.  Carol was innovative and tireless in providing bookmobile and outreach services in her 32-year library career.  She was a well-known consultant in the field, as well as, an active mentor to everyone in search of help or answers for their particular service.  She was well known on the ABOS listserv because of her willingness to respond to questions about bookmobile specifications, vehicle maintenance, service policies, stocking the collection, and much, much more.  She was especially encouraging to “newbies” in outreach and many remember her fondly for this.  Many of the newer ABOS members never met her in person, but readily recognized her name from the listserv or from her over thirty articles sprinkled throughout library literature.  Others knew her for her Bookmobile Song Book containing 10 songs about bookmobile life, a real joy to read, especially after a tough day on the road.  Carol use to like to refer to bookmobile staff as “Road Warriors”, often prefacing it with “Semper Fi”

Knowing that Carol had been seriously ill, the award committee decided to break one of the rules it had just created for the award, and notify her before the conference that she had been selected to receive the John Philip Award for 2007.  Carol was so very honored and thrilled, and, happy she had “not been forgotten” after retirement.  When I announced she was the recipient at the conference she received cheers and a standing ovation, even though she was not present.

Sadly, upon returning to work after the conference, we were notified that Carol had passed away on October 1, two days before we announced the award.  I was so happy we decided to notify her ahead of time!   And, I don’t know about anyone else, but I like to think that she was there with us in spirit and was sent on her way to the other side with our joy and adulation paving her way!  Semper Fi Carol!

In closing, I would also like to send a big thank you to everyone who attended and all of the speakers at the ABOS conference.  We had many new faces mixed in with the familiar ones, which was so terrific.  I especially want to send my thanks to Gayle Rowden and Bruce Myers, who traveled from the other side of the world (Australia!) to participate in and speak at this conference.  I am forever indebted to them for sharing their expertise and stories of Australian Mobile Library life with us.  Thank you also to all the vendors who supported the conference, we couldn’t do it with out them!   And last but not least, thanks to the St. Louis County Library for extending such warm hospitality to the attendees.

It has been a marvelous year for the ABOS Association and the officers, committee members and board succeeded in doing a fantastic job!

I look forward with great anticipation to the coming year and to seeing everyone next Fall in Columbus, OH, Oct. 8 – 11, 2008.  And as always, I enjoy hearing from you, so feel free to contact me at jmeadows@ppld.org .

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