Sincerely Clark is a blog of letters. It may include letters that I sent or intend to send, letters that I want to send but will not send, letters that I want to write and some that I don’t want to write, letters to people I know or people I don’t know, and letters to no one in particular. They may be informative, serious, angry, humorous, poignant, interesting, boring, strange, silly, nonsensical, or whatever.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Today I am thinking about my work trips to Washington DC in
the late 1980s through the early 2000s.
During that time, I regularly attended the Computers In
Libraries conferences in Washington DC. In the mid-1980s, librarians were figuring out how to deploy and facilitate the use
of computers by library clients. That was an innovative and complicated
procedure so librarians had to take advantage of learning experiences as much
as possible. Therefore we tried to attend relevant conferences as often as we
could get funding for them. The annual Computers In Libraries conferences were
the cream of the crop, attracting librarians from all over the US and beyond.
Luckily, my Deans realized how important these educational opportunities were
and financed my attendance, not every year but many years.
The Computers In Libraries conferences are still being held
annually at the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue, just four blocks north
of the Dupont Circle Metro Station. In fact that conference is happening right
now as I write this blog post on March 8, 2016. The conference focuses on “ideas,
leading-edge practices, tips, and techniques for creating innovative libraries,
and engaging communities, as well as designing and delivering strategic
services that are of primary importance to our communities. The emphasis is on
doing research, translating it into innovative services and practices…”
Anyway I enjoyed those conferences very much and learned a
lot from them. I also met lots of new and old colleagues at them. I often met
up with former colleagues, including Iqbal J. and Nancy C (both former colleagues
from Briggs Library at South Dakota State University) and other former
colleagues from University of Cincinnati and University of Nebraska at Omaha. It
was a nice way to keep in touch.
The conferences were great and very educational, but I was
also very pleased to visit Washington DC, and I came to love that city and its
attractions. I always allocated some time to visit the National Mall, including
the Natural History Museum, National Art Gallery, Air & Space Museum, and
other attractions, including of course The Library of Congress. In addition, I became
fond of several restaurants, coffee shops, book stores (Kramer’s), etc. I quickly
learned that I could use the Metro (subway) to get to (or close to) most areas
in DC that I wanted. I usually ordered a week-long Metro pass via mail before
flying to Reagan National Airport. Then I could take the Metro anywhere I
wanted to go.
A Metro Pass from one of my DC trips.
As an academic librarian, certainly one of my favorite
attractions was The Library of Congress and I visited the tourist area of LoC
during many trips. However, standing in a hallway looking down through a window into the opulent LoC reading room was not enough. Therefore, one year, I applied
for a library card that would enable me to actually do some research in the LoC
reading room. Getting that ID card was a more complicated process than
expected, especially via a mail process. However, after verifying who I was and why I needed to use the Library
of Congress, I received detailed
instructions for how to get into LoC, and get my LoC photo ID card. At that time I was researching and
compiling an annotated bibliography of publications by and about my beloved
(and extinct) Pennsylvania Railroad and I spent a couple of afternoons in the
LoC reading room. Before my trip to DC, I had searched the LoC catalog from the
South Dakota State University Library where I worked and recorded the
appropriate LoC call numbers for the books I wanted see. When I got into the
LoC reading room, after veriyfing who I was and getting my photo ID, I requested retrieval of those books, which took a while.
Therefore, I requested them one afternoon and returned to use them the next
afternoon. Overall, it was an amazing experience to actually sit in that beautiful
and historic reading room and do some research. I will never forget feeling like
I was worshiping at the library Mecca. It was awesome! What can I say, I am a
librarian! – Well, at least I was a librarian.
My Library of Congress ID card
The Main Reading Room in the Library of Congress
I guess most of us have certain cities that we love to visit
and sometimes wish we could live there. Washington DC would be one those cities
for Pat and I. However, we realized that dream was not going to be a
reality.Luckily I worked for Deans who
realized the value of continuing educational opportunities for their employees.
Leon R and Steve M were both such Deans and I am still grateful to them for
those opportunities to visit Washington DC and for their support and tutelage
At some point during my library career, I became enlightened
enough to realize that I didn’t need to make those trips alone. I could take
Pat with me! Therefore, more excitement in Washington DC will be continued …