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Author Visits Part 3: Local Author Speed Dating Event

One of the most rewarding professional experiences I've had in the last 5 years is getting to know my local authors. I wanted to find a way to help my local school districts afford author visits and I wanted our local authors to get some more recognition. So we developed the idea that we would host a Local Author Speed Dating event where our school librarians could meet the local authors.

When I started the event, I gathered local author names from my regional school library directors from various districts. I asked my library directors to recommend local authors they had used for school visits. This way I felt like the authors were being vetted by people I trusted. We created a spreadsheet we could build up over time.

I then sent emails out to the authors to see if they were interested in participating. I hosted a Zoom meeting to discuss the event with the interested local authors. I did share that there was no honorarium involved with this. We were giving them exposure to a new audience. Once I got the final count confirmation, I was able to create a schedule. Our schedule morphed over time and I'll describe the final schedule we used.

We divided the authors into two groups. One group of 6-10 authors came in the morning and another group of 6-10 authors came in the afternoon. During the morning/afternoon, the authors were given about 10 minutes to stand at a podium and talk about their books and school visits. Some had slides to share and some had objects to share. Some of the local authors just preferred to talk.

After all of the morning authors spoke at the podium, we transitioned to table talks. All of the authors had been given a table in another room where they set up a display table with their books and school visit items. Think of it like an exhibit hall. The librarians had free time to wander from table to table and meet the authors one on one who had caught their attention. This process was repeated with the second group of authors in the afternoon.

Authors were able to pass out brochures with contact information. Some authors had sign-up lists to get the librarians' information. It was a win win for all, especially our students who eventually got to meet amazing people who might have even gone to their schools and went on to accomplish something amazing!

Give it try! I promise you'll love it!

Dr. Laura

PS My featured local authors are:

Did you meet Tara Thomas this week?. Tara works at Hutchison School in Memphis, Tennessee! Hutchison School is a private, independent college preparatory day school for girls age 2 through 12th grade.

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