For the last four days, my home internet connection has been on the fritz. Mostly down but still sputtering off and on. In fact, if you listen very carefully I am fairly convinced that you can hear my router coughing and hacking away in the corner. The reason this is a fuss for me is that (as you may have seen on the news), Seattle has had the most snow it has seen in years (something like 40 years last I heard). So, if you work at WebJunction; at home because you are snowed in and you have no internet, what ever do you do? Well, you build a seven foot tall snowman of course!
And as you likely know, building a seven foot tall snowman is no simple feat. Especially when it has a goatee made of native NW flowering shrubbery (hey, half of WebJunction is based in Seattle, right? I had to make it as authentic as possible). So needless to say, this snowman making, in addition to being surprisingly good exercise, gave me time to think about enjoy the no internet/huge amount of snowfall situation at hand. So as I am rolling giant balls of snow around the yard during work hours it struck me that this is part of why I work in Libraryland. No, no, no, not because I got a partial snow day! *rolls eyes* The thing is, if I really wanted to, I could have trudged through five blocks of un-shoveled walks to get to my neighborhood library. And even if they had no internet I still *could* have still used their resources (you know, ask the librarian for books on how to build a fire, maybe a nice work of Yeti-related fiction). And even if the library didn’t have internet it would still have a solid permanent collection (including non-circulating reference if the situation got really, really tough and all the books got checked out).
And while chiseling those handsome features into my mammoth snowman *rolls eyes at self*, I started thinking that even though much of what WebJunction does is on the internet, the connections (pun intended), useful conversations, shared resources, tools and learning that have happened on the site are still with us all, even when we are “away” (by choice or chance) from the web. So I guess with this post I wanted to show you my snowman, tell the story of what was running through my head while making him and thank you. Thank you for being a part of it all. And as the year winds up, it snows in lots of places and people gather to be together as friends and family I wanted to thank you for reading this, for being a part of Libraryland and the WebJunction family, and also thank you for doing the important, always valuable work you do in your community. Even if things like inclement weather, technology challenges or tough economic times affect us. Regardless of our situation, we can often find a snowman to make and I can’t think of a better group of professionals I’d like to help me lift that 80lb snowball head to the top of this giant snowman. While that was very, very far from the perfect analogy, we do want to wish you all well and thank you. And if you have time off this season, enjoy, drive careful and much Libraryland love to you all.
Runner Sam Thompson got his Seattle Public Library Passport stamped at 11 different library branches throughout Seattle yesterday.
“I heard about the library-passport program and thought it was really cool,” said Thompson, 28. “I love going to my library. It’s such an incredible resource. My goal is to get people excited about visiting their local branch.”
Thompson had originally planned to visit all 28 branches of the Seattle Public Library system in one day, but freezing temperatures and early library closures shortened his list. Besides the 11 branches he was able to reach before snow forced them to close, he also visited 6 more branches which he photographed.
To read more about Sam Thompson’s library marathon, see the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s article, A marathon task: Runner logs 50 miles visiting library branches in one day. Also see SPL’s recent news release on other locals’ programs centered around the Passport.
I got my library passport stamped this weekend at the International District/Chinatown Branch of Seattle Public Library. SPL has handed out passports with all 27 library locations represented, to celebrate the successful completion of the Library’s 10-year building program, Libraries for All. Patrons who get a stamp from all the libraries by January will have a really cool passport with 27 unique stamps and get entered into a drawing for a prize. The architect of my local branch even created a special additional stamp for the celebration. There are groups, like the hiking Mountaineers, who are working together to visit every branch, passports in hand.
Not only do I love the serendipitous discovery of stuff on the shelf at another branch (eg. after Sunday’s find, I now have a new favorite movie Waitress), I’m a big fan of passports and stamps. At school, my kids have been doing the Passport Geography Club, another fine example of motivational learning. And I know that there are summer reading programs for all ages all over the place, but I’ve been thinking…
Why don’t we use a similar motivational effort to encourage folks to explore libraries and learning in other ways? What about a “Reading Passport” with sections for different disciplines or literature from different periods? What about one with a section to stamp if you were a part of a discussion about a book or if you did an impromptu book talk on the bus? And how cool would it be if we got to the point where people would include their library passport credentials on their resume or as a part of their political campaigns?
I ride the bus from the eastside suburbs of Seattle to downtown, and I’m loving how bookish the Seattle bus riders are. (Seattle is touted as one of the most literate cities in the U.S.) Because I am a book freak myself, I can’t help but try to see what other people are reading, and–very occasionally, as my fellow bus riders tend to be a quiet, private bunch–make a comment about it. Last summer it is was plainly obvious when the final Harry Potter book came out, because at least a half dozen people would be reading it on every bus I was on for a week or two (I counted 12 people reading it on one ride–it was spooky!). I talked to one man at the bus stop about it, and he told me he bought it for his son, but was racing to read it first while the boy was wrapping up the previous book. He was surprised at how fast his son was reading now, so he was using every free minute to finish up the final installment before his son started clamoring for it.
Come to think of it (I didn’t till now), most of my fellow rider-readers appear to be in their 40s or 50s. Those younger than that tend to be listening to iPods or scrolling through their smart phones, texting, or peering at teeny-tiny videos. Hmm. Don’t know if that signals the “death of the book” or impending eyesight and hearing damage. Whoops, is that crotchety? Anyway, as I’m sure all who read this are aware, there is that NEA survey that tells us what seems to be the situation around book reading these days, and it is interesting to compare that to real-life observation.
In the last week, I’ve seen Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Catcher in the Rye, and Sundays at Tiffany’s–all being read by men, FWIW (I was most surprised by the last one–isn’t that a romance novel?). I brought on The Hobbit a few days ago, and as I squeezed into the very back row of bench seats, the burly fellow next to me exclaimed, “That is a great book!” That led me to think, especially since I frequently see the same people on the bus every morning: we could have a Bus-Riders’ Book Club. Rather than feeling guilty for peering at the covers of the books our fellow passengers are clutching, we would hold up our book and announce, “I am starting Catch-22 today!” and then the conversation would be begin. Or we could recommend books that are best suited for commuting: ones that are small enough to fit into your commuter bag, that aren’t so depressing that you distress your seatmate by weeping, that take you far away from being stuck in traffic on a bus, that remind you that even though you had to get up at the crack of dawn in order to catch the bus, your life is pretty good. A book that I recommend for all those reasons is: Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell.
Here is a very happy shot of a nice hunk of your friendly neighborhood WJ team members during a recent meeting we had in Seattle. Three days of very productive meetings were held in the always visually impressive main Seattle Public Library. We worked and thought very hard, focusing like lasers on the tasks at hand and getting lots and lots done. Heck, we even sang a song along the way. In fact, we were singing when I took this shot! While I can’t repeat the words to this particular song, suffice it to say that Jeff was hazing me by leading the group sing-along of this particular ditty. Don’t worry, for the greater good of the community legal action will not be forthcoming.
In addition to singing, we really did work very hard. Trust me when I promise that you’ll see result springing up as we move forward (cool, cool stuff!).
While we’re talking about being at the Seattle Public Library here is a shot of one of Libraryland’s very favorite Chrysities, Chrystie Hill. She was on break from this meeting in the hallway, on her cell phone, in a separate meeting! Between that and the reflection on the floor, we’ve got some seriously recursive action going on here! Enjoy!