A few years ago some colleagues at Queens Library started a group called Urban Librarians Unite or ULU. I went to some of the first few meetings and it seemed like any other work social club. There is also the Desk Set group out of Brooklyn. I enjoyed events from both groups. In spring of 2010 in last year’s proposed budget cuts, ULU stepped it up for advocacy to raise awareness to the public of the proposed cuts. The Desk Set has good events for charities like an event last summer that raised money for school libraries in New Orleans. Now it’s apparent that the two groups have different agendas and that’s a good thing so there is room enough in NYC for both of them. I’ve been more involved with the ULU, and they are asking people to promote this year’s events through blogs that we can all share on their facebook page. So I am going to write about my experience with last year’s read in. It was a good time, I’m looking forward to this year’s, and I’m hoping this becomes a yearly thing even if the proposed budgets improve in the future.
Last year was the first time a large percentage of my colleagues got a 90 day notice for a layoff depending on the yearly budget. People go into librarianship because they enjoy it, have a passion for it, and also because traditionally there is a security in it. There is a nationwide distrust of unions which I think is unfair. People deserve rights as workers, and not to live with the constant threat of a dismissal on the boss’s whim. Most librarians want to focus on their work, and lead a decent life. For me, I’m proud of my career and think I’ve come along way from my former retail years. So getting that 90 day notice last year made me do a lot of thinking. Thanks to facebook and this group ULU I could focus on trying to help the cause. So for the read-in I signed up for the 3 amslot, and I was going to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith for 15 minutes.
I had a preexisting vacation back home to Ohio with my flight back early that Saturday, the same day as the read in. My vacation was great. I almost had a heart attack from skateboarding, playing tennis, and having a round of golf in one day. That Saturday came around and I got a call from Spirit Airlines. My flight was cancelled because of a strike. They refunded my money for that one way trip, but I had to get home by other means. The flights looked pricey, so I looked at trains, and buses. I thought then that I would not get to the read in, so I emailed one of my ULU colleagues. Also, I do not own a copy of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and my mom said that I could borrow her copy that I bought for her years ago. I decided to charge a flight back home, but I thought I’d be too tired to do the read in, so I gave my mom back her copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I got back to my Queens apartment around 9 that night. I looked in the mirror and I looked sunburned and haggard. I decided I would go to the read in after all. I scanned my book shelf and threw A Confederacy of Dunces into my back pack.
I got to the read in on time for my volunteer duty at 1 am. I was out of it, but had some good friends and colleagues to chat with, and I listened to the people read stuff. The weather was perfect, and it was cool to chill out at the table for a couple of hours. I probably didn’t motivate many people to fill out postcards, but it was cool. At 3 am I read, and A Confederacy of Dunces is a great book but kind of a tongue twister to read aloud. Afterwards I got a ride back to Queens from some fun colleagues. I think it was a great night, and a great event. Apparently in the morning hours or earlier in the evening there was more of a crowd. But I enjoyed the late night silence of watching person after person read. It was peaceful.
This year my vacation is the week after the read in, so I won’t have to worry about any flight cancellations. I’m reading at midnight, and I’m sticking to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn like I should have done last year.
The 24 hour read in starts June 11th at 4 pm, and ends June 12th at 4 pm. Also this Saturday June 4th is the hug the New York Public Library day, and the hug is at exactly 2 pm. Don’t be late!
Here is the ULU’s, save the library website with the info: