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2013 Spring Conference Speakers
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Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes

Libraries provide access to information, entertainment, and the Internet. They are the backbone of democracy, sacred places where anyone can find answers to their questions.  Unfortunately, people who come there for help behave just as badly they do everywhere else.  Librarian Gene Ambaum and cartoonist Bill Barnes began publishing the library comic Unshelved on February 16, 2002. They have eight published collections.

Gene Ambaum uses a pen name because he’s scared of his own shadow. He is so good at making fun of strange, difficult customers in Unshelved because he is the strangest, most difficult customer of all. He taught English overseas because no one there was in a position to criticize his spelling.  Bill Barnes loves librarians, show tunes, and meat. He can count his toes without taking off his shoes. Over the past eight years, he has tried to convince Gene that the meaning of "partnership” is doing what he says 99% of the time. He can often be seen wandering the floor at trade shows playing "The Final Countdown” on his ukulele Death Adder. In his spare time he draws Unshelved and writes a comic about the software industry, Not Invented Here

Cris Tovani

Cris Tovani taught elementary school for ten years before becoming a high school reading specialist and English teacher. A nationally known consultant, she chooses to continue teaching high school students full-time. She has also worked for many years as a staff developer for the Denver-based Public Education and Business Coalition (PEBC), the consortium that has received national acclaim for its work in reading comprehension reform. In addition to teaching and consulting, she has served as an adjunct instructor for the University of Denver and the University of Colorado at Denver.

Cris has authored the books, I Read It, but I Don't Get It (Stenhouse 2000), Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? (Stenhouse 2004), and the videotape sets; "Thoughtful Reading" (Stenhouse 2003) and "Comprehending Content" (Stenhouse 2004).


Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery

The collaboration between Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery has produced two Show Me Readers Award-winning titles. The first, Two Bobbies, A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival, received more than 21,000 votes from Missouri students to win MASL’s 2010-2011 Show Me Readers Award. The second, Nubs: the True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, & a Miracle, received more than 33,000 votes from Missouri students to win MASL's 2011-2012 Show Me Readers Award.

In addition to their Show Me Readers Awards, the authors have won numerous others, including a Newbery Honor and the Christopher Award.

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