I wanted to write more this week, but I’ve been way too busy celebrating National Library Week. That was before I discovered it wasn’t a real holiday. At the very least I thought it might be one of those jumped up holidays created in the feverish dungeons of Hallmark to get people to spend money on useless and stupid holiday cards, but it turns out Hallmark doesn’t even have a card for National Library Week. I know, because I’ve checked.
It was especially fun celebrating National Library Workers Day yesterday. That’s the reason I’m moving so slowly today. It’s been a long time since I was out drinking and dancing until 4am with a bunch of library workers. I think the last time that happened was the era when people were getting down that night and shaking their booty. Good times. We all started in the middle of the afternoon at the extremely popular martini bar we opened in the library last year (and who said the AL can’t recommend popular innovations!), and it went on from there. Our celebration included lots of drinks, a huge catered buffet dinner, and a gratis night on the town for all of our library workers, followed by a day off to recover and a four-day spa vacation. True, this effectively shut the library down for the week, angering lots of patrons, but it showed we really care about our workers.
I took a look around at how some other libraries celebrated Library Workers Day. Here’s one: "Tucson, AZ: To celebrate National Library Workers Day, the American Library Association (ALA) Student Chapter at the University of Arizona delivered big signs and balloons to the nearbyPima County Public Library branches, says Rebecca Blakiston , President of the Library Student Organization. “Before our last meeting we had 12 volunteers come in and decorate the signs. They all say ‘Name of Branch: Thank You! Libraries Work Because You Do!’ and have various pictures and decorations on them.” I hope they actually put the names of the specific branches on them, instead of just "Name of Branch" on every sign. Big signs and balloons. How exciting.
But not as exciting as this one: "Beckley, WV: To honor its workers, the Raleigh County Public Library created a photo poster and placed it in a prominent place near the circulation desk." They sure know how to honor workers down there in West Virginia. Nothing says "we honor you" better than a photo poster. Except maybe this: "Edison, GA: The Calhoun County Library tied celebratory green balloons to its library sign." To which I can only say, Wow! It’s not just backwoods places that know how to honor their library workers, either. "Brooklyn, NY: Each branch received aNLWD banner to display." That’s right. They didn’t skimp. Each branch got a banner to display.
Things got pretty exciting out in the mountain states, too. "Colorado Springs, CO: For its first-ever NLWD celebration, Pikes Peak Library embraced the ‘Star’ theme, honoring staff with star-studded name badge ribbons that announced the Star status of each library worker." I bet those library workers felt like real stars, each and every one of them! I know I’d feel like a star if I was forced to wear a name badge and then had the added humiliation of having a ribbon flowing from it. Libraries like those badges: "Washington, DC: An attractive badge, with the message ‘Libraries Work Because We Do,’ was designed specially for all District of Columbia Public Library staff to wear during National Library Week to convey that each staff member performs valuable work in the library system." Oh, an attractive badge. Well, that makes all the difference. Then I’d really feel honored.
It’s not all just badges and photo posters, though. There’s also food! Because if there’s anything library workers need, it’s more food, especially star-shaped sweets. "Whether you choose a regional delicacy or a store-bought cake, a catered event or potluck goodies in the break room, food brings workers together." Now that’s true! Especially those "potluck goodies in the break room"! Potluck goodies? Are we serious with this one? People have to celebrate being "stars" by cooking food and bringing it to the library?
There was no end to the food. "Alexandria, VA: Each department of the Alexandria Public Library received a card that said ‘A few hugs and kisses from Library Administration’ along with a gift basket of Hugs (little juice barrels) and Kisses (Hershey Kisses, Hershey Kisses Hugs, HersheyKissables)." Awww . Hugs and kisses from the library administration? Frankly, I find that one a little creepy. "The San Jose Public Library Administration and Library Stewards bought cakes for each of the branches and visit the branches for the cake-eating events." Cake eating events? This isn’t creepy, but I can just imagine the forced frivolity at the staff are each handed their 1.5" square piece of cake and told to eat it and have fun (!).
They might not all have food, but they’re all exciting. "Clinton Township, MI: Christine Hage of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library has been employed at several libraries with recognition programs. One had a "Going the Extra Mile" award where employees nominated one another for going beyond the call of duty. Winners received $10 gift certificate from a local business." I’m not sure a $10 gift certificate is worth going to the trouble of nominating anyone. What are you going to get for ten bucks these days? Maybe a cozy dinner for two at the local Taco Bell, if you skip the pop and just order water.
This one is just weird: "Portland, OR: The Multnomah County Library designated a Queen for the Day. The ‘queen’ was delighted by her crown and feather boa." Isn’t this some kind of sex discrimination? Does it mean theycouldn’t ‘ designate a man? Or only women and gay men? Maybe that’s not so weird. We are talking about librarians and library workers, after all. Women and gay men make up most of that demographic.
Am I the only one who finds most of these so-called celebratory events pathetic? Are people really supposed to feel honored because you hand them some cake once a year? Or you make them wear badges? Or tie a colorful balloon to their waist and paste a photo poster on their back? If the environment is such that the library workers don’t already feel appreciated on a daily basis, is a basket of "hugs and kisses from the library administration" really going to make any difference?
Just so you know I’m not a total cynic, there was one action that didn’t creep me out or leave me cold: "Baltimore, MD: The ‘Let Everyone Know!’ flyer was in the rack Enoch Pratt Free Library. And all public service departments and branches received a free standing rack with post cards in them. The cards said ‘National Library Workers Day, Tuesday, April 4, 2006. Please write a brief statement on “How the Pratt Library has Changed My Life” on this card and leave it with the Library staff. Thank you.’ The cards the library received had incredible testimonies from patrons of all ages." This seemed to me one of the most thoughtful of all the ways to celebrate library workers. Plus the staff all got tee shirts and lanyards!
I hope your library did something clever rather than creepy.
ALA is doing other things this week, like releasing yet another list of "challenged" books so we can all know how important librarians are, but I’m too exhausted from Library Worker’s Day to talk about their other exciting celebrations. However, I do think they should have postponed this all a week so the celebrations could correspond with Administrative Professionals Week. After all, most librarians are just glorified secretaries anyway, only without the glory.