Shelf Life: Fifth Annual Nerd Camp LI Celebrates Literacy and Nerdom 

Nerd Camp Long Island will host its fifth annual literacy “un conference” at Elwood’s Boyd Intermediate School on Saturday.

“First and foremost, Nerd Camp LI is a literary celebration,” said co-organizers JoEllen McCarthy, Alison McDermott, and Kristen Picone. “We bring educators, administrators, librarians, authors, and illustrators together in order to learn and collaborate, all on behalf of kids.”

The event follows the EdCamp model, where the day’s sessions and conferences are created by the participants at the event’s start. “There are collaborative conversations where people talk about different ideas,”  said McCarthy. “Teachers get together and say, ‘Hey, we should do a session on geeky picture books to connect to social emotional learning!’ or, ‘There’s an author here who does a lot of mindfulness; let’s see if she’d want to do a session on that’.” Once the day’s panels and discussions are determined, event participants are invited to attend those that interest them.

“We anticipate that all slots on our session board will be full,” said the co-organizers, “which will mean 39 different sessions will be offered. We hope that most sessions will be collaborative conversations rather than presentations delivered to the audience.”

When the conference portion of the event draws to a close, an author/illustrator meet and greet begins. Open to all, children and families are invited to speak with—and get books signed by—any of the 65 authors and illustrators who will attend.  McCarthy, McDermott, and Picone spoke highly of this part of the day, rejoicing in witnessing the direct impact of fostering “booklove.”

Nerd Camp LI’s co-organizers first met at a professional development event, and discovered they were perfectly suited to bring Nerd Camp to Long Island. McCarthy is a literary consultant, staff developer, and educator; McDermott is a school librarian; and Picone is a fifth grade teacher. Their passion, experience, and unifying goal to spread a love of reading, writing, and lifelong learning created a perfect match. “We all got together to collaborate on this, and it’s just evolved,” said McCarthy. 

Attendees of the conference segment now come from far and wide to connect and learn together. “We’re up to about four hundred teachers registered now,” said McCarthy. “Each year is gets bigger.” Educators from across Long Island can be found among these participants, as can those who travel from states including Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and more. 

“You get a sense when you go to an event like this, that you’re going to be surrounded by people who are really passionate about what they do,” said McCarthy. “You’re guaranteed to be in a room with people who are nerds and learners.”

The co-organizers truly embrace the term “nerd,” seeing it as a title worth embracing. “ Being a ‘nerd’ means being passionate about something.  Loving something so much that it becomes a piece of your identity,” said Picone. “At Nerd Camp LI, we’re book nerds and proud of it!”

More information about Nerd Camp LI and links to register for the conference portion of the event can be found on the event’s website and Twitter. The author/illustrator meet and greet is open to all, without registration.

Upcoming Events

  • November 1, Marc Berger & Band Concert: American Roots singer-songwriter Marc Berger will perform selections from his new release RIDE at Huntington Public Library. Event will begin at 7 PM. Register in person, over the phone, or online using code HMA417.
  • November 2-3, South Huntington Public Library Fall Book Sale: The Friends of the Library host their annual book sale. There will be something for everyone: fiction, non-fiction, paperbacks, picture books, YA, DVDs, and more. Nov. 2 from 9 AM – 5 PM, Nov 3. from 1 PM – 5 PM.
  • November 3, Amateur Writers of Long IslandJoin writers of all genres and abilities in the back room of Panera in Huntington Village from 1-6 PM to give and receive feedback.
  • November 3, The Station Branch 90th Anniversary: Join Huntington Public Library as they celebrate 90 years at the Station with fun, food, and family entertainment. Event runs from 1-4 PM.
  • November 11, Long Island Writers Guild: Join writers at Book Revue for a monthly writing workshop. This two-hour workshop is free and open to all. The workshop begins at 7 PM; all levels and genres welcome. supports literacy efforts. If you have book-related information you’d like to share, email Molly Prep.


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