The Kansas Center for the Book at the State Library of Kansas tried something new on Wednesday, April 1, during the KLA/MPLA Joint Conference in Wichita — Speed Dating with Kansas authors!
- Jim Reed visiting a group
If you’ve never tried speed dating, the popular social people-meeting event, this was your chance. Over 46 people took part and got a chance to visit with a dozen authors in one place. The event began at 4:30 p.m. and went through 6:30 p.m. Participants were seated in twelve groups, and each author rotated to visit each group. A slide show in one part of the room projected photos of the authors and covers of their most recent books, while a web-based timer counted down the minutes each author could have with a group in another part of the room. Rhonda Machlan of the State Library of Kansas rang her old-fashioned school bell when it was time to change.
Attendees got to get acquainted in a few minutes with authors such as special conference guest Kathy Patrick, creator of the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs; Suzanne Arruda; J.B. Cheaney; Matthew Eck; Mike Everhart; John Hall; Max McCoy; David A. Nichols; Rolf Potts; Tim Raglin; Jim Reed; and Brad Sneed. Watermark Books and Book Kansas! were on hand to sell copies of the authors’ books for signing, and soft drinks and bottled water were served.
- Matthew Eck and listeners
Attendees were enthralled with this new venue for Kansas authors. The change in format allowed librarians to meet all the authors present, and the authors came to them instead of them having to seek out the ones they wanted to see. The authors enjoyed the event, too. Only Suzanne Arruda had done this as an author before — and no one else in the room had ever done any sort of speed dating! But several of the authors said that this was an exhausting, but rewarding, format and agreed that they would gladly do it again. Other than minor things such as a room too small, background noise, starting late and a conference time that conflicted with other activities, Speed Dating went extraordinarily well. Not only did the librarians have a chance to meet authors, the authors had opportunities to meet other authors. Comments from attendees indicated that most enjoyed this new experience. One librarian said that she wanted to go home and try it at her home library. Another observed that it was her first time but she hoped it would not be her last — at least with authors! And a third threatened us — he said if we did not do this again next year, he would be very mad at us!
So watch to see what the Kansas Center for the Book comes up with next!
Authors at Speed Dating signing table