They Said It Couldn’t Be Done!

For the first time ever in my life, I was ahead of a cultural trend.

You know how some people are early adopters? Those who are super early to things are called beta testers. Traditionally I have been an omega adopter. I find out about a trend or new music or slang a year or two AFTER it jumps the shark.

I am happy to announce that for the first time – and quite possibly for the last – I have been oh-so-slightly-ahead of a cultural phenomena.

Namely, in being a rabidly assertive advocate for libraries.

The linked article, written by Linda Holmes, lists the following points (and a few more) explaining why supporting libraries is the next “big pop-culture wave”:

1. “Libraries get in fights. Everybody likes a scrapper, and between the funding battles they’re often found fighting and the body-checking involved in their periodic struggles over sharing information, there’s a certain … pleasantly plucky quality to the current perception of libraries and librarians.”

2. “Librarians know stuff. You know how the words “geek” and “nerd” have gone from actual insults to words used to lovingly describe enthusiasts? Well, if we haven’t gotten past venerating people who don’t know anything, we’ve certainly reduced, I’d argue, the degree to which we stigmatize people for knowing a lot. “

3. “Libraries are green and local…. You can pretty easily position a library as environmentally friendly (your accumulation of books and magazines you are not reading is fewer trees for the rest of us, you know), not to mention economical (obvious) and part of your local culture.”

4. “Libraries will give you things for free. Hi, have you noticed how much hardcover books cost? Not a Netflix person? They will hand you things for free. That’s not an especially hard concept to sell.”

5. “There seems to be a preposterous level of goodwill. Quite honestly, I feel like you can go on YouTube and act like a complete goof (in the best way), and if it’s for libraries, people have that same rush of warmth that they used to get about people who had sextuplets, before … well, you know. Before.”

So thank you, Linda Holmes, for defining this trend and putting all of us book nerds on the map. Love your library? MAKE SOME NOISE!!!

(What does any of this have to do with a picture of a pretty fern? Nothing. I shot the pic at camp recently and love it. Maybe ferns will be the Next Hot Thing, after libraries.)

Playing catch-up

The research for the speech I gave on Thursday wound up taking a lot longer than I thought it would, but it was worth every minute. The speech was about literacy and literature in Central New York (which I call the Heart of New York), and included one of my patented rants about how we Americans should not rest until everyone in our country is functionally literate. I gave the speech to a room of very nice people – the folks who head up local charities and libraries, as well as the business groups which donate to both. So, yeah, I was preaching to the choir. It was great.

(If anyone cares, I’ll post a link to the speech tomorrow.)

One of the highlights of the afternoon was seeing my fifth grade math teacher again, Mrs. Williams. She was the most beautiful teacher at my elementary school, and all of us girls had mad crushes on her. I didn’t even care that she taught math, I just wanted to be like her – dignified, elegant – when I grew up. I still do. I also met a girl (I think her name was Tiiso) who is a fourth-grader at that same elementary school – Ed Smith. That was fun and she was adorable.)

Hung out with my mom all morning, feeding her doughnuts and pumping her for stories about WWII, and what it was like to be a country girl and go to Brooklyn at age 18. She has great stories to tell. My ongoing war with Medicare on her behalf might reach a peaceful resolution, but I’m waiting until I see everything in writing before I believe it.

This afternoon I’m writing and mentally preparing for this evening’s games. Tomorrow I head towards Buffalo. I’ll be speaking at the Lancaster Middle School on Monday and the Lancaster High School on Tuesday.

This is the most enlightening and mind-opening essay I have read in a very long time. Please read it. Along with essays like that, I’ve been chewing my way through fantasy novels that I missed the last two decades. Neil Gaiman is still my #1 Author, but now I’m into Diana Wynne Jones. I tried to finish Charles DeLint’s Trader, but didn’t love it. Can someone recommend another one of his books to me?

Pictures of library heaven