Every once in a while a news story catches my eye, one that makes me think that Librarians are like Indiana Jones, Noah Wyle in The Librarian, or the comic-book Rex Libris. Certainly not in a figurative sense but in a direct action for action kind of way. An Associated Press news-story reveals that a letter written by René Descartes had been in Haverford College holdings since 1902. The work was disregarded for over a century; until a Librarian unearthed the unknown treasure. And the world (or just France) quickly paid attention.
The problem with this story and others based in reality: the Librarian goes unnamed. Instead Haverford’s President Steve Emerson gets all the fame. There’s nice photo of Steve surrendering the letter to the Institut de France’s Chancellor Gabriel de Broglie. We all know that the Chancellor is going to hand the letter to the library for preservation, cataloging, storage, access rights, digitization, etc. These guys are faces taking credit. Moreover, President Steve was in Paris for the ceremony, he was given a trip to France! I bet the Librarian was not afforded such a luxury. Maybe next time they’ll get the story right.
UPDATE: Associated Press story, naming and quoting Librarian John Anderies as Librarian extraordinaire!
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The baby-faced Beatle himself is being honored with a prestigious award from the Library of Congress. This a definite cause for celebration and we can take part in the festivities alongside PBS: July 28, 2010 at 8:00pm ET. I’ve long been a Beatles fan and the rare occasion when Beatlemania and libraries come together you can bet your Aunt Lucy’s lucky dentures that I’ll rave about it.
A little blurb on the award:
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will honor either a songwriter, interpreter, or singer/songwriter whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of artistic expression and cultural understanding.
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize is relatively new and having Paul McCartney as recipient is another step towards it’s validation and maturity.
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It’s all too obvious the economic problems facing public, academic, and other non-profit libraries. Perhaps though a game-changer in this monetary mess exists. Taking a page from advertising schemes of Nike, Gatorade, and the like libraries could look to celebrities. Bare with me; recently Conan O’Brien has been selected to serve on the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation board members [Boston Herald]. El Conando is from the Boston area and like other celebrities gives back to the community when possible. There are local heroes and celebrities from all over our great nation who can be recruited into the library rank and file. Their clout amongst the pushers/movers/shakers and the community would lead to voter support, large donations, increased library usage, etc.
While the American Library Association puts out memorable posters with various celebrities [ALA READ], what I’m suggesting is something more involved. One that involves upper management, board members, and the community to get out of the library/office and work with known local names, be they within the city, county, state, or region. This call to action is more along the lines of ALA’s Frontline Advocacy endeavors [ALA Frontline Advocacy]. Plus I think it would be something crazy/cool if Christopher Walken or Steve Buscemi became the face of any library organization.
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