Rowdy Librarians at SxSWi - Day Four
Librarians at SxSWi ride the Snake Bike (photo by Lisa Waite Bunker)
Apparently I’m not that rowdy.
Early in the afternoon, I was called out by Jennifer Greb of the Tulsa City-County Library for not hustling down to Rainey Street to jump on something called the “Snake Bike.” This long, angular contraption is propelled by an assortment of pulleys, pedals, and sheer force of will. From what I’m told, a bunch of librarians joined a group that rode the Snake Bike through different neighborhoods, causing who-knows-how-many innocent bystanders to dive out of the way.
After being on my feet nonstop for most of the weekend, I scheduled Monday as a “sit-down” day. I lined up personal coffee chats with Carson Block and Nell Taylor, and each gave me some fun tips. In particular, Nell informed me that Chicago hosts an an awesome Summer festival called “The Printer’s Ball,” which I’ve decided to attend. I’m not sure if this year’s date has been announced, but here’s a short description from last year:
“Founded by Poetry magazine and other independent Chicago literary organizations, the Printers’ Ball celebrates literary culture by offering thousands of magazines, books, and broadsides free of charge; showcasing live music, readings, and other performances; demonstrating letterpress, offset, and silk-screen printing and paper-making; and providing other activities, entertainment, food, and drink—free!”
Fortunately Chicago boasts a ton of cultural and literary centers, as well as two baseball franchises, so I’m psyched to make the trip.
Of course, I broke my self-promise to stay remain relatively stationary, and at Nell’s suggestion I hopped over to the East Side for a party thrown by a brilliantly written, contributor-driven site called Shareable:
I sat down at a table for some food truck grub and was joined by some Austin locals who work for a cloud computing firm. After trading hellos, I walked them through my decision to attend library school (“I like hanging out with librarians”), and they asked me “Are libraries pretty much going completely digital?” Not entirely, I replied, and tried the best I could to chat about some of my classmates’ “analog” archive and curation projects. I’m still new to library science, so I couldn’t give them as sharp an answer as I would have liked … but I suppose that’s what the next few semesters are for. Before I left, we were given a ground-up fruit (in pill form) that, if dissolved, eliminates the sour taste of any food. I went for the challenge and bit into a lemon and grapefruit, with surprisingly satisfying results.
Really, it tasted great.
Mindful of Jennifer’s taunting earlier in the day, I joined her at a mixer for Oklahomans on Sixth Street. I watched some deafening metal karaoke and then pleaded for a pardon to walk home and go to sleep. My decidedly nonrowdy rep was cemented.
I suppose this is the time where I wrap things up and discuss my overall impressions of SXSWi. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, last year’s SXSWi changed my career trajectory by convincing me to apply to library school. This year’s conference broadened my perspective of the field and introduced me to some of its top innovators. The librarians who attend SXSWi are advocates who challenge norms, and I feel that their creative proposals will propel meaningful progress.
There are a ton of people I can thank for my experience at SXSWi, but there are four in particular I’d like to mention. Andrea Davis is an unstoppable force with a uniquely brilliant mind for branding—she roped me into #sxswLAM and kept me going when I had no energy to spare. Cindy Fisher helped foster connections for me in Austin and beyond while keeping my workload in check. Tina Coleman shepherded this blog online and dealt with an assortment of tech issues. Finally, Myrna Morales, who I’ve never actually met, was amazing enough to send me the coupon for her Interactive Badge that she unfortunately couldn’t use. Given how much work she has put into getting #sxswLAM off the ground, it was an amazing gesture that I will continue to be thankful for.
In the past day and a half, I’ve emailed many of the librarians who I met at the conference with this question: “What experiences opened your mind at SXSWi?” The plan is to assemble their answers and offer them as a final blog post. So definitely be on the lookout for that one.
Thanks for reading, everybody.
(@pavinelli on Twitter) is one of many librarians attending, presenting, and innovating at the South by Southwest: Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas. This year, a group of librarians and other information professionals organized to work together on programming and activities at the SxSWi conference and we’re happy to be sharing reports from the field. Read his previous posts and follow along at the #sxswLAM Facebook page and Twitter feed.