Geeking Out

Written by Justine Rothbart

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geek out

  1. To enthuse about a specific topic, not realizing that most people listening will fail to understand it.
  2. To do geeky things; to act geeky; to speak of geeky things. [wiktionary]

 

How many times has this happened to you? You might be talking about something totally cool, and then suddenly realize that others are not as excited. They might be nodding their heads along thinking, “Wow, I’m glad she’s excited” or maybe “When is she going to stop talking?”

If you know me, you might have listened to me totally geek out about something. It might have been about archives, historic preservation, cats…ok, I’ll stop there. Anyways, there’s always something that gets people excited. And isn’t it surprising when it’s not the same thing you’re interested in?

This Saturday I saw the wide range of things people could geek out about. Thousands of book lovers gathered at the Washington, D.C Convention Center for the 14th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival. I listened to Sandra Day O’Connor and her brother talk about wild horses in the west, Eric Cline talk about archaeology and the year civilization collapsed, and Elizabeth Mitchell talk about the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. While I was totally excited to learn about the diary of the Statue of Liberty’s sculptor, others were having just as good of a time learning about graphic novels or poetry in other sessions.

It’s sometimes refreshing to get out of your comfort zone. You might, like me, gravitate to the things you know you’ll be interested in. But if you try something new, you might step into another world that you didn’t even know existed. And who knows, you might even enjoy it.

This happened to me on Saturday while I was waiting in line with my friend to meet David Sibley. As my friend described him, David Sibley is the “rock star of the bird world.” While I like birds, I am not a bird enthusiast. I was there for my friend. I never knew how much someone could like birds until we met the other people in line. Suddenly I was on the other side of geeking out. I was the one just smiling and nodding along. Although I wasn’t as excited as they were, it gave me a greater appreciation for bird watching. I was happy to see people so passionate about one subject.

I was glad I stood in that line to see that other world, that new perspective. I don’t think I’ll be buying a pair of binoculars anytime soon. But now when I see a bird, I’ll stop and take a few more seconds to think back to David Sibley and the bird enthusiasts we met in line at the National Book Festival.

 

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Check out my blog post from last year’s National Book Festival: Cupcakes are out. Archives are in. 

 

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Mark Your Calendars!

Written by Justine Rothbart

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It’s almost that time of year again! Back-to-School? Christmas? Nope. It’s almost time for the Library of Congress National Book Festival! This year the festival will be held on August 30th, 2014. It’s the first year to be held indoors at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. For more information on why you should go, check out my blog post from last year’s festival: Cupcakes are out. Archives are in. Last year I discovered new trends in archives (and maybe some fashion trends). Let’s see what we’ll discover this year!

What: Library of Congress National Book Festival

When: August 30, 2014

Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington D.C.

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For more information visit: http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/ 

Cupcakes are out. Archives are in.

Written by Justine Rothbart

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The best two days of the year have arrived. What is it, you ask? No, it’s not my birthday. It’s not even Christmas. Need a hint? Fine I’ll tell you. It’s the Library of Congress National Book Festival! Ok, before you stop reading, let me explain why I always get so excited during this time of year. Yesterday and today the Library of Congress hosted their 13th annual National Book Festival on the National Mall. This is where passionate authors congregate to discuss the process of writing their new book and their devotion to the topic. This year some of the topics included: families coping with disabled children, Mexican home cooking, homosexuality and religion, and learning how to motivate others by selling. The best part of the National Book Festival is listening to an author, unknown to you, and becoming completely engrossed in their life and their story. It is invigorating leaving the National Book Festival interested in topics you would have never even thought twice about.

Ok, now that you know the background of the National Book Festival (and are counting down the days ’till next year’s event), I’m writing today to talk about the new trends I learned while attending the National Book Festival. No, I did not learn new fashion trends (although, I did see a family sporting some fashionable, yet very practical ponchos). Anyways, I’m getting off topic. This is the place where I realized that cupcakes are out (we knew that for awhile) and archives are in.

Archives? Seriously? Yes, archives. At the National Book Festival yesterday, it seemed as if almost every speaker used the word “archives” during their presentation. It was used not only at the “History & Biography” tent, but at the “Contemporary Life” tent too. Is it just becoming the new buzzword? Or is the general public finally realizing the importance and becoming interested in archives? I think it is a combination of both.

The first time I noticed it was at the beginning of the first session. Linda Ronstadt was about to come on stage to discuss her new book which highlights her forty-five year singing career. Before the session began, the moderator stated the standard announcement from the Library of Congress, “This session is being filmed for the Library of Congress’ website and archives.” Most people would have not been as excited as me to hear this, but as a graduate student studying Cultural Heritage Information Management, this really got me excited. I was not only excited about the Library of Congress saving this for posterity, but I was excited that it was announced for everyone to hear. Announcing little things like this is just the beginning to archives advocacy. I hope every time people heard that statement, they thought, “Wow, that’s great that the Library of Congress is saving this in their archives.” Maybe I’m being too optimistic. They probably only thought, “Ok, when is the main act coming on stage?”

After listening to Linda Ronstadt talk about her musical career, I headed over to the “History & Biography” tent. Film historian, Christel Schmidt, discussed not only the subject of  her new book, Mary Pickford: Queen of Movies, she also discussed researching in film archives to write this book on the famous silent movie actress. Listening to Christel Schmidt talk about archives just reinforces this trend of the general public wanting to know more about the behind the scenes process.

I jumped from the silent movie era back into 2013 when I went to the “Contemporary Life” tent again. This time I was there to listen to Bonnie Benwick discuss The Washington Post Cookbook: Readers’ Favorite Recipes. Ok, you might think, how can cooking be related to archives? Let me tell you. Bonnie Benwick discussed that in order to find the content for this new book, the Washington Post staff not only looked back in the newspaper’s archives, but they contacted readers to look back in their own personal archives. This is just another example of how archival items can be used today for “Contemporary Life” purposes.

The votes are in. The people have spoken. Archives has been named the new trend of 2013. I only hope, that this is not a trend which will quickly disappear as fast as slap bracelets. In fact, I hope this is not a trend at all, but an awakening.