RBMS 2017 blog


Meet the Conference Organizers


Pictured, from left to right: Melissa Hubbard, Juli McLoone, Greg Prickman

Each year the RBMS Conference is put together by a group of volunteers, serving on multiple RBMS committees, and a fantastic ACRL liaison.  The many parts of the RBMS Conference come down to a few key individuals, who pull together the work of the various committees to ensure that RBMS is a wonderful conference for all of us.

This week we interviewed the people behind the 2017 RBMS Conference, Melissa Hubbard and Juli McLoone, Co-chairs of the 2017 Conference Program Planning Committee, and Greg Prickman, Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee.

What is your day job?

  • Melissa: I’m the head of special collections & archives at Kelvin Smith Library, Case Western Reserve University. In addition to providing access to the library’s unique and distinctive collections, my team manages the preservation program for all library collections on campus.
  • Juli: I’m an Outreach Librarian & Curator at the University of Michigan Special Collections Library, where I collect, teach, and curate exhibits with the post-1700 rare book collection, the Children’s Literature Collection, the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive, and the Hubbard Collection of Imaginary Voyages.
  • Greg: Head of Special Collections, the University of Iowa Libraries, with the usual slate of responsibilities.

How many years have you been involved in RBMS? Why have you continued your involvement?

  • Melissa: I’ve been involved in RBMS since my first conference, in 2008. I’ve stayed involved in the Section because the relationships I’ve built through the RBMS community have enriched my professional life in so many ways. RBMS is one of my favorite parts of this career path.
  • Juli: I attended my first RBMS Preconference as a scholarship recipient in 2008, and joined my first committee (Diversity) in 2011. I’ve found in RBMS a welcoming community of passionate professionals striving to improve our individual and collective work in the field of cultural heritage. I’m proud and delighted to be a part of it.
  • Greg: My first RBMS (Pre)conference was 1999, Chicago. I keep coming back because there just isn’t anything else like it and it serves a valuable role in our profession. I also have enjoyed how much the profession has changed since 1999, in ways that are by and large positive, inclusive, and invigorating.

What are you most looking forward to about RBMS 2017?

  • Melissa: I’m excited about the strength and diversity of the program. As a chair, I wasn’t too closely involved in selecting sessions—most of that was done by the planning committee members, and they did a fantastic job. When we put the whole program together, I remember looking at it and thinking, “I can’t wait to go to this conference.”
  • Juli: Can I say the programming across the board? I’m really looking forward to the line-up for plenaries, panels, seminars, and participatory programs, and the hardest decision will be deciding which sessions to attend!
  • Greg: Spending time with some of my colleagues who will be here for a seminar I proposed; the annual chance to see friends, acquaintances, and familiar faces; and because of my role this year, the chance to see how the conference works (fingers crossed) from the inside.

What has been the most exciting part of planning for RBMS 2017?

  • Melissa: For me, the best part about planning this conference has been the opportunity to work with team RBMS17. Juli McLoone is the best collaborator one could ask for, and she developed the compelling theme for this conference. John Overholt has been an enormous help with all aspects of planning, and he shattered the previous conference fundraising records. Greg Prickman and the whole University of Iowa local arrangements crew are going to make sure we all have a fantastic time in Iowa City. Working with Tory Ondrla is simply a joy—she makes magic. There are dozens of people working to make this conference happen, and they have all blown me away with their hard work and creativity.
  • Juli: I’ve loved seeing everything come together from the initial vision, through brainstorming and organizing, to applying the finishing touches. Planning a conference like this truly is a two-year long marathon, but thank goodness it isn’t one that requires running alone. Working with my co-chair Melissa Hubbard, our truly fantastic committee, and Tory Ondrla of ACRL has been an amazing experience.
  • Greg: Oh goodness…does touring hotel rooms, appealing to campus departments for rooms, and debating the finer points of egg rolls count as exciting? I think the most exciting part at this point is knowing what we’ve done to make something that will fly, and now waiting to see if it will actually fly!

What excites you the most about the conference being in Iowa City?

  • Melissa: Iowa City is my ideal conference venue. I like to get out and walk around during a conference, and the town is perfect for that. There are plenty of great food options and everything is easy to get to. Add that to the opportunity to learn more about University of Iowa Special Collections and the University of Iowa Center for the Book, and I can’t think of a better host city for RBMS.
  • Juli: I’m a graduate of the University of Iowa, where I received both my MA in Anthropology and my MLIS. It was in Iowa City and the University of Iowa Special Collections that I first found my way into the world of rare books and archives, and realized that jobs such as the one I hold today exist. I am beyond excited to be part of bringing RBMS to Iowa City and I know our Local Arrangements Committee members feel the same way. I hope everyone reads their recent blog posts on Iowa City and its environs, and sets aside a little time to explore. You will come away with a new vision of the Midwest!
  • Greg: That I have these people and these people and these people by my side every step of the way. We hope it will be a conference experience that will outlive the few days we will all have together here in Iowa.

Many thanks to Melissa, Juli, and Greg for what is sure to be a wonderful RBMS Conference!

Would you like to get involved in future RBMS Conference planning?  Consider volunteering for the Conference Program Planning Committee, Local Arrangements Committee, Seminars Committee, Workshops Committee or the Membership & Professional Development Committee.

–Katie Henningsen
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manucript Library,
Duke University