Stepping Up to 2021 Conference

Saturday, October 9, 2021
Westerville Central High School
Hampton Inn & Suites Columbus Polaris

OELMA Conference is on and in person! For the first time in over a year the librarians of Ohio are finally able to get back together for a day of exciting professional development opportunities! The date is set for October 9, 2021! It will be a one day conference but we already have some great things lined up including graphic novelist Derf Backderf, creator behind My Friend Dahmer, Trashed, and most recently Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio. Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Belles and Tiny Pretty Things (now a Netflix series!) and COO of the nonprofit organization We Need Diverse Books, will also be joining us virtually at the conference. In addition to several large sessions with some exciting speakers, there will be 16 concurrent sessions by librarians for librarians! These sessions have been really popular opportunities for professional development at the conference and we are excited to be able to hold them in person again! The conference committees are so excited to be planning an in-person event and we hope you are as excited as we are to finally be back together and working toward building better school library programs in Ohio!"


Click HERE to register for this event, or read below for full details on the conference. 


For the OELMA Conference Reservation site at the Hampton Inn & Suites Columbus Polaris, click HERE. 



Featured Speakers

Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle Clayton hails from the Washington, D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side, but now lives in New York City. She was an extremely fussy and particular child with an undying love for Cheerios (honey nut only), pink lemonade, and frosted animal cookies. A self-proclaimed school nerd, she loved covering her books with brown paper and filled her locker with Lisa Frank stickers. She loved putting headings on her homework, odd-looking pens and freshly sharpened pencils, and numerous notebooks to fill with her research. On most Saturdays you could find her with her equally nerdy Dad at Crown Books and then the comic bookstore where she stocked up on her weekly reading material. Plus, she was so spoiled that her grandfather took her to the library after school almost daily.

She attended Our Lady of Good Counsel High School because her parents thought Catholic school would keep her out of trouble. She went to Wake Forest University, and studied pre-med until she received a fateful F in Chemistry. This setback prompted her to change her major to English, and earned a BA. She rediscovered her love of children‘s fiction by re-reading Harriet the Spy, which pushed her to earn an MA in Children‘s Literature from Hollins University and an MFA Writing for Children at the New School.

She taught secondary school for several years – at a pre-professional ballet academy and a private K-8 school. She spent most of her twenties in and out of America – living in London, Paris, a small Japanese town, Bermuda – and wandering the planet. She‘s been on five out of seven continents, and has grand plans to reach all of them.

She is a former elementary and middle school librarian, and co-founder and owner of CAKE Literary, a creative kitchen whipping up decadent – and decidedly diverse – literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women‘s fiction readers. She is also COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books. What‘s next? She will be enrolling in culinary school in New York City and plans to do something foodie and fun.




John Derf Backderf

Comics creator John Derf Backderf was born and raised in a small Ohio town outside of Akron, the son of a chemist and homemaker. At age 8, he discovered comic books at the town‘s corner drug store and fell in love with the art form.

After a brief stint at art school, he dropped out and worked on the back of a garbage truck for a year, an experience that was the basis for his comix project, TRASHED.

He later attended Ohio State University on a journalism scholarship and was a political cartoonist for the student paper, The Lantern, for three years. Derf began his professional career as a political cartoonist for a paper in South Florida, but was fired after two years for, as the editor put it, general tastelessness.

In 1990, his freeform comic strip THE CITY debuted in the Cleveland Edition, beginning a 24-year run. THE CITY appeared in nearly 150 weekly papers around the country, including The Village Voice, and won a Robert F. Kennedy Award for political satire in 2008.

When weekly papers began to fail, Derf abandoned strips for books. His first graphic novel, PUNK ROCK & TRAILER PARKS (SLG Publishing, 2009), a bawdy fictional account of the punk rock scene in Akron, Ohio, was cited by Booklist as "one of the stand-out graphic novels of the year." It became a bestseller in France after its 2014 release there and was awarded the Prix Bulles Zik literary prize.

Derf's most famous graphic novel is MY FRIEND DAHMER (Abrams Comicarts, 2012), a haunting account of his teenage friendship with the future serial killer. It has been hailed as one of the best graphic novels in recent memory by Slate, Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Kirkus Reviews, Le Monde, El Mundo, The Guardian and many more. Time magazine listed it as one of the five best non-fiction books of the year. It received an Alex Award from the American Library Association, one of only ten books honored. It has been translated into 17 languages and was awarded an Angoulême Prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival in France, as well as the Priz du Polar and Prix Litararie, the top scholastic book award, both in France. The film adaptation of MY FRIEND DAHMER premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and played in cinemas in the US and abroad throughout 2017 and 2018.

His next graphic novel, TRASHED (Abrams Comicarts, 2016), inspired by his garbage truck career, won an Eisner Award and was named book-of-the-year by the Green Party of France. TRASHED is also in development as a film project.

His latest book is KENT STATE: FOUR DEAD IN OHIO (Abrams Comicarts, 2020). The Library Journal calls it Incendiary. Required reading for all Americans. It was named book-of-the-year by Publisher‘s Weekly, Forbes magazine, and the Herald of Scotland. KENT STATE was awarded the French Critic‘s Prize and Derf‘s second Alex Award from the ALA.

Backderf has also been nominated for multiple Eisner and Ignatz Awards, as well as Harvey and Reuben Awards. The Derf Collection, comprised of 34 years of original art and papers, was established in The Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum at Ohio State University in 2009.

Derf lives in Cleveland, for reasons he can no longer remember.

Schedule of Events

                                  8:00am - 8:45am  

Vendors Open

                                  9:00am - 9:45am

Opening Speaker: Derf Beckderf

                                 10:00am - 10:45am

Session 1 Breakouts

                                 11:00am - 12:00pm 

Lunch Break/Vendors Open

                                 12:15pm - 1:00pm

Large Room Session

                                 1:15pm - 2:00pm

Session 2 Breakouts

                                 2:15pm - 3:00pm 

Large Room Session

                                 3:15pm - 4:00pm 

Session 3 Breakouts

                                 4:15pm - 5:00pm 

Closing Speaker