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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Presenters – How do you find them?

Every year I listen to different conference presenters and wonder "How did they find this speaker?" Of course there are the standard keynoters in the school library world, but when you are seeking new voices, HOW DO YOU FIND THEM?

In the past, I went to LM_NET and asked others. I traveled to national conferences and took note of dynamic speakers. I read the journals and asked for references on their speaking abilities. Then I prayed that the speakers were as good as their press when they were booked. We need a better resource for sharing about speakers, so I will try to spark the beginnings of a conversation.

 Toni Buzzeo is a great connector of people and led to me Dr. Steven Layne. If you haven’t invited Steve to your school library conference yet, quickly send him an email. He books quickly  for the big and small reading conferences, school visits, and teacher conferences but is relatively unknown to school librarians. Once you hear him speak, you’ll be hooked! All your colleagues will be saying, "How did you find him?" Even my reading specialist was impressed that I knew Steven Layne.

Steve talks about reading, libraries, books and students with the true passion of a practioner. He is real and relates well to those middle school LMS also. In the words of my son, "He has street cred." In 2006 Steve spoke at our TASL Libraries and Literacy Forum (modeled after the exciting SLJ Leadership Forums).  I raved about him then, but our audience was a mixture of educators and public librarians. This year Steve won over the library information specialists in Tennessee. 

A MS LIS had asked me on Friday night, "Who is this guy and is he worth getting up for on a Saturday morning?" I was glad to see she took my advice and came Saturday. She caught me in the hallway and raved about him between presentations. 

Steve has the same impact on students. My oldest son had hoped to get the weekend off from Ft Benning to come back and introduce Steve. He was text messaging me on my phone throughout the day to tell him how much he loved and admired Steven. He asked me to tell Steven to hurry up with his sequel to This Side of Paradise and Mergers. He needed to have some good books when he reports to Ft. Bragg and possibly Afghanistan.  Steve — you are on a deadline, get writing! It’s too bad Betsy isn’t doing her Hot Men in Children’s Lit any more because Steve would be on the list as one of the most wholesome, courageous men I know. 

I appreciate hearing about the writing process so I can share these stories with my students. P is for Princess is a title on the Scholastic Book Fair that instantly sells out, but it’s not just for girls – it’s about ROYALTY. It’s actually one of the Sleeping Bear Press titles interweaving nonfiction and poetry in an ABC format. Speaking of Sleeping Bear Press, when are they going to start sending their great authors like Michael Shoulders and Steve Layne to our library conferences ALA Annual, Midwinter, AASL? They have a booth, they should bring their authors so you can talk to them and book new speakers. Somebody pick up the phone and tell them we need to meet with their authors.  We’ll be sending TASL officers to look for new speakers in the exhibit halls and conference sessions at all the meetings. Let’s hope we as a profession can work together to link more of the truly unique speakers. 

For now, I’m off to the Arizona Biltmore and the SLJ Leadership Summit. Expect more news about evidence-based assessment to show up here, but know that I am constantly on the lookout for new speakers. Tell me who is WONDERFUL.


  1. Frank (Francesco) says:

    One really good source for presenters is Toastmasters. Now, not all Toastmasters are ready to give effective presentations, so you need to do due diligence when selecting a Toastmaster. On the other hand, many Toastmasters districts have specialty clubs such as “Professional Speakers,” or have speakers bureaus. They have members who are more interested in public speaking and are more experienced.

    Also check with the continuation program at your local colleges. Again, you need to do due diligence in “qualifying” a speaker, but I know of professionally paid speakers who also teach at community colleges.

    You didn’t discuss costs. Toastmasters will generally give presentations for free or for an token honorarium. If there is travel costs involved then that should be picked up by the ones seeking presenters.

    And if you want someone to present effective communication/prsentation skills, feel free to contact me at

    Frank (Francesco) S. Adamo