Saturday at the ALA Annual Conference


When I was a teenager I wanted to grow up to be Ken Burns, or at least a whole lot like him.  Of course I never became a filmmaker nor a professional historian, I became a librarian.  But Ken Burns is down with librarians and addressed us early on Saturday morning.  He spoke of how after The Civil War he didn’t want to make another movie about war because he didn’t want to be typecast nor be mistaken for glorfying war.  Two things changed his mind: 1) that 1000 WWII veterans die each day & 2) that a large (but unnamed) percentage of graduating high school seniors believe that the US fought WWII allied with Germany against Russia.  So he and Florentine Films made The War, a 14-hour film about the experience of ordinary soldiers and ordinary people on the homefront during the Second World War.  He showed us a half-hour preview of the film which focuses on four towns in the United States and how people in those towns were affected by the war.  The film was very powerful and contained the most graphic archival footage of the war I’ve ever seen.  If the 30 minute sample is any indication, this may be Ken Burns’ best documentary yet.  Burns closed with a quote from Abraham Lincoln which he described as the best sentence ever written: “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely the will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

From one childhood hero to another.  In the exhibition center Arthur Frommer and his daughter Pauline signed replica copies of the 1957 edition of Europe on $5 a Day.  I’ve been addicted to reading guidebooks and travel literature since I was a kid, and Frommer was one of my early favorites.  Back upstairs I attended the ACRL 101 session which wasn’t too different from the NMRT Conference 101 session but I got a few useful tips and handouts.

I rode the shuttle bus over to the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, at lunch and attended two sessions of RUSA STARS on resource sharing.  The first was a committee meeting on reavaluating resource sharing policies which I simply observed.  It was drowned out by the exburant speechifying and applause of another session in the next room.  More interesting was the Hot Topics in Resource Sharing session where my newly aqcuainted colleagues and I talked about customer services issues, copyright problems, and Ariel v. Odyssey.

Back at the convention center I went to the convention center to write an email to my friend Sharon who I didn’t see at the Ken Burns session in the morning.  Moments after I sent the email, I heard a voice call my name.  It was Sharon who was also in the Internet Cafe.  We went to the Capitol City Brewing Co. for dinner and talked about libraries and babies.

And that was that professionally for Saturday.  I had plans to go out Saturday night but didn’t do much as I wasn’t much in the mood, but I did go for a long walk around Washington’s 14th Street and U Street neighborhoods.

I’ll write about Sunday tonight or tomorrow.  The Book Cart Drill Team is coming up next!

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