Thinking Ahead 2005

jan.wall's picture

The SLC Library (The City Library) is remarkable - an impressive entrance with shops (Urban Room), an atrium, wireless and ethernet connections, self-checkout, a 3-tiered fireplace, meeting rooms and auditorium. Very welcoming. Truly a community space.

That seems to be the focus of this conference: the ability of a library to pull the community together; civic dialog. The opening remarks by the owners of Weller Bookstore in SLC were in the form of a duet, or more accurately, contrapuntal. Sometimes they spoke in unison, sometimes solo, and sometimes at the same time but with different words. If anyone saw it, it was unique. I’d like to listen to it again because I missed what one was saying as I listened to the other.

But the gist of the "duet" was this: that booksellers and librarians are necessary to the survival of our democracy. We are the purveryors of knowledge, and protect first amendment rights - to write, read, and explore diverse ideas. We "biblionerds" aren’t alone in the fight to preserve our freedoms. Words, ideas, literature and literacy are powerful, and "hope and dreams can be the best of tools." After all, free public libraries are founded upon such hope and dreams.

This conference has pulled in people from all over. So far I've met people from New Jersey, Seattle, Maricopa County, Omaha, and of course Salt Lake and environs. It seems to be a good mix of positions represented, including Friends, IT people etc.

I will try and post tomorrow as the day goes on. I'm not sure of connections in the auditorium, and the small group break-outs aren’t designed to be passive activities. I intend to participate. But I'll post as I’m able.

Snowing tonight, but otherwise a nice walk from the hotel to the library. More tomorrow.