Here I sit, on a plane headed to Portland. Each time I travel to PLA or ALA, I play my own version of, “who’s a librarian?” as I scan the crowd waiting to board. Flying out of Oakland on a bus-sized plane this time, it isn’t nearly as much fun as past trips from Seattle, where gobs of librarians would happily fill the jet liner, some easy to spot with library-themed gear.
Today, on my half-full flight, the person next to me promptly pulled out the latest Library Journal upon taking his seat. Turns out both of us are exhibitors; (it’s my first time on the exhibit side rather than as a conference attendee) he represents a Chinese-language vendor en route to his first PLA. As a frequent PLA and ALA attendee, I gushed over the PLA experience—the sessions, the exhibits, the general good vibe. All great stuff!
He seemed pleased with my enthusiasm, and then took a free seat in front of us. Perhaps I was too enthusiastic. Ah well. What can I say? I tend to gush about libraries.
I’ve been thinking a lot about gushing these days, as that action--or really, skill--is gaining importance while libraries lose funding, force furloughs, and in some cases—too many cases—close doors. Advocating for our libraries has become priority number one, and libraries are employing creative modes at every turn. From statewide mass photo collections (Kansas snapshot day) to Facebook Fan pages with opportunities to donate to the library (San Rafael Public Library), to Twitter feeds and web sites demanding libraries be saved (in IL, OH... to many to list), to ALA collaborations with popular magazines, to the recent development of SaveLibraries.org, a site developed by my friend Lori Reed, an ardent library activist whose library is facing dramatic cuts. All of these creative outlets are variations on a theme: Gush. Proudly. Loudly. And Often. Spread the word, and when folks take a different seat, don't be dismayed. Keep on keepin' on.