“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Today was the library’s annual holiday luncheon. It’s never a lunch. It’s always a luncheon. I don’t know the difference, but the food at the Boone Faculty Center is fantastic. Every meal I’ve had there in the last two years has been good enough to make you wanna slap your granny. Add in your favorite coworkers and you’ll wanna slap your papaw, too. Happy Feasting one and all.
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” ~ George Addair
Judy Sackett and I wrote an article in 2016 that was featured in the journal, Kentucky Libraries. Lo and behold, it was awarded Most Outstanding Feature Article, and today, we accepted our prize at the annual Kentucky Libraries Association (KLA) conference luncheon. Judy called it our “major award,” then asked to see the leg lamp (if you’re not familiar with Christmas Story that joke will make no sense). Henceforth, it is known as our major award with complete respect. Though we didn’t get leg lamps, we got very nice personalized plaques, and Robin Harris, who introduced us, gave us a glowing introduction. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Judy. We have so much fun together. It’s really fantastic to share this professional acknowledgement with her. As we say in the band, “We do not suck.”
“Our job is to love one another without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”
~ Thomas Merton
You met Gabe Tomlin earlier this year as part of the Human Library. He dropped by my office with Judy Sackett. It’s always a joy to see Gabe. He’s one of the smartest, most creative people I know. He hugs me when he sees me, and what’s not to love about a good hug? Having someone of Gabe’s caliber as part of our team sets the bar awfully high for all the new student workers, but so be it. I’d trade a semester’s worth of students for one Gabe. He’s just that awesome, and I’m really grateful to call him friend. And he’s got the coolest suede jacket ever.
“Magic happens when you don’t give up, even though you want to.
The Universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart.”
Last Christmas Judy Sackett gave me an original Joe Molinaro mug. It was one of my all-time favorite gifts. If I haven’t told you about Joe, let me fix that. Joe is one of America’s best ceramicists. He recently retired from Eastern Kentucky University where he’d been teaching ceramics. During his tenure there he studied indigenous pottery craft in Ecuador (and other places, too, but mostly in Ecuador). That in-depth study surely informed his organic style. He creates stunningly beautiful work; truly elegant in its simplicity. As a bonus, he’s a super awesome guy. Naturally, I was thrilled when Judy gave me one of his pieces because I could never afford one on my own. So, you can imagine my heartbreak when, last Saturday, I dropped Joe’s mug onto a kitchen counter only to have it shatter into thousands of pieces. There was no way to fix it. I was sick. I confessed to Judy that I had destroyed my beloved gift. She, being the queen of awesome, today brought me another Joe Molinaro mug. I couldn’t believe it! I don’t know what I ever did to deserve such kindness, but I’m sure glad I did it.
“Growth is painful. Change is painful.
But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”
Special Collections has been filled with January Capricorns as long as I’ve been there. The majority of us are still around, too. Here, we’re lined up in the order of our birth day (youngest to oldest as luck would have it) starting with Ruth Bryan (Jan 3), Matt Harris (Jan 4), moi (Jan 8), and Judy Sackett (Jan 9). Matt and I were born the same year. Unlike me with a dog and two cats, he has five real children. He’s holding his birthday card that I thought was going to be cool for his kids (although he had to ask who left it in his mailbox because he couldn’t read my signature). It wasn’t going to be quite as fun as I thought. After a meeting this afternoon, we decided to take pictures with the cute mustache on a stick only to find it didn’t actually come out of the card. I think they used cement to be honest. So, we were forced to pose with the whole card instead of funny individual shots with the mustache. Still, Ruth provided plenty of funny faces. It was good fun, and I hope it made Matt’s birthday a little brighter. It sure made my day bright.
“We tend to understand that adding things to our lives will enrich us, but somethings need to be removed to propel us.” ~ Unknown
One of the great things about hanging with the locals is learning where all the best places are. Judy is that local in SoCal. A native of Long Beach, she roamed the coast with her sister when they were growing up. She took Jeff and I to a great hidden gem called Seal Beach. It’s not far from Long Beach, but it’s far enough to be out of the frey. It has a long pier (although the end of it was blocked off due to restoration) from which, past the tankers and oil rigs, Catalina Island can be seen.
Several weeks back at Cane Ridge, Nila said her sacred space is the ocean. She’s not alone. Many people take great solace at the edge of the world. I’ve kept her words near during this trip. I understand why she and so many others find the ocean a place of sacred notions.
And then there’s Judy and Jeff. They have been two of the best people I’ve ever known; great mentors and great friends. I will cherish our memories together during this trip. I’m glad they like me enough to hang out with me. How could I not be happy around people like this?
“You will never speak to anyone more than you speak to yourself in your head. Be kind to yourself.”
I left Pasadena early, making my way to the totally awesome retro Long Beach airport to pick up my conference companions Jeff Suchanek and Judy Sackett. They left Lexington at 5:30am. Easily an exhaustible flight, the two soldiered on through the afternoon. Judy, always the perfect tour guide, had planned a harbor tour shown here with Jeff as we wait to board. I tell you, once these two retire I’ll be hard pressed to stick around UK. They bless my life at work and out.
“Karma Cleanse: Check your motives. Watch your attitude. Act with love. Be grateful. Forgive.”
Tom Eblen published an article in today’s Herald-Leader about our IFLA Pre-Conference. It’s a good article, exposing some of the challenges we face as a global community to capture and preserve our news, often referred to as the “first draft of history.” What he didn’t mention were the people in the room from the University of Kentucky Libraries who built the UK program into a national leader (that’s why we were chosen to host the pre-conference after all). At the mixer, Becky Ryder pointed out that the first and last stewards of UK’s newspaper program were present. She was talking about Judy Sackett, above left, and myself. The three of us combined have over seventy years experience with newspaper preservation. You see, Judy was the first formal steward when UK Libraries became one of the first participants in the NEH funded United States Newspaper Program (USNP). It was designed to catalogue and microfilm as many historic newspapers as could be gathered from each state. A decade or so later, Becky took over as the first Preservation Librarian at UK Libraries. She was instrumental in getting UK into the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), the successor project to USNP. I was the program manager of NDNP when our NEH funding ended in 2013, thus, summarily ending over sixty years of Kentucky newspaper preservation. Since then, Eric Weig and I have been doing what we can to reignite the program, but as Eblen points out in his article, lack of funding and staff make it nearly impossible. Neither Eric nor I are dedicated full-time to newspapers, which is what it would take to put us back on top (did I mention we trained nearly everyone in NDNP, and people still use my tutorials to train their staff?). I have faith that one day we’ll be back to preserving Kentucky’s first draft of history. In the meantime, I’m forever grateful to follow in Judy and Becky’s footsteps. They’re mighty women and excellent mentors.
Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.
~ Nido Qubein
Today was the much anticipated Kentucky Field Trip with our IFLA guests. We wanted to give them a good overview of how beautiful and awesome The Bluegrass State can be. What better way than Keeneland and Buffalo Trace Distillery? Bright and early we loaded up the UK bus (with our awesome driver, Sarah) and off to Keeneland we went. Becky Ryder, Director of the Keeneland Library and local committee member, met us there (as did Ruth Bryan, Kazuko Hioki, and Michael Lütgen who drove themselves). She treated our guests to a delicious Kentucky style breakfast. Judy Sackett even tried gravy and biscuits for the first time…and she liked it! Our guests were then treated to a tour of the track, the grounds, and the sales pavilion. It was a beautiful thing to see their eyes light up watching the horses train, and the excitement when one of the outriders stopped by for a chat was just so special. My heart swelled with pride. Except for the oppressive humidity, it was as close to perfect weather as we could ever hope for.
We could have spent a lot more time at Keeneland. The tour guides were incredibly engaging and the ladies especially loved the gift shop, but Buffalo Trace was waiting on us, so we loaded up the bus and off we went again. This is where the story gets good. My contacts up to this point were not the people who met me at the visitor center as expected. Instead, the Distillery Archivist (whose name I have sadly forgotten) and a man named Art met me at the door. When I asked for my contacts, Art simply said, “I’ll be doing your tour.” It was a bit odd, but I was okay with it because I could tell right away he was a cool dude. We soon found out how lucky we were that Art was our tour guide. He was the most entertaining tour guide I’ve ever had. We had a ton of laughs – and that was before the samples – but we learned a great deal, too, not just about bourbon but the general history of the area. I might also add that the now-forgotten-named archivist was great as well.
Art really showed off our Kentuckian sense of humor to our guests (a point of personal pride for me). Truly, he was a load of fun, and when it came time for the samples, he shared with us their White Dog brand. It’s essentially alcohol (something ridiculous like 170 proof) before it’s aged to become bourbon. He poured some in their hands mostly to smell, although a few did taste it. Their reactions ranged from “that’s not so bad,” to, “Oh my God, I tasted it!” followed by a contorted face. In any case, a gentle rubbing of the hands produced the smell of bread caused by a chemical reaction of the alcohol on skin and oxygen (I think). Everyone then had a chance to sample a couple of their more popular brands, as well as root beer and bourbon chocolate made by Ruth Hunt Candies, another Kentucky staple. By the time we left Buffalo Trace, everyone was tired but completely happy. We could not have planned a better representation of the Commonwealth. My heart was bursting with pride and joy.
That brings me back to where the story gets good. This is Art with IFLA participant and US Government Docs librarian Cynthia Etkin from Virginia. I had the pleasure of getting to know Cindy yesterday when we lunched with Reinette Jones. She’s a warm hearted, open soul who was so happy to be with us and learn about all the good – and troubling – things going on in the world of news media preservation. She had lived and worked in Kentucky for many years some time ago, both at WKU and EKU. It was at the latter where she met Art. Oh yes, they knew each other before today. On the way back to the hotel we learned that she not only knew him, but she dated him… for thirteen years! They never married (at least not each other), but you could tell they remained close after all this time. Cindy had told Art she was coming to Kentucky and would be on the tour. Art, in turn, insisted he be our tour guide. It all made sense why my contacts did not meet me when we arrived. Theirs was one of the sweetest stories I’ve heard, and learning their history together was the perfect way to wrap up our shared adventures. Every second of this week as been worth the sweat and sleeplessness. I made new friends, connected with old friends, shared time with mentors, and smart men and women from all over the world. We might solve this preservation dilemma yet. I continue to be the luckiest woman alive.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
Cecilia “Ceci” Virtue, whom you met last week during the Library gala, gave a presentation today on her experience as a Career Enhancement Program (CEP) Fellow at UK Libraries. Judy Sackett, who has lead the CEP program at UK since 2009, asked me to bring my camera. As we were doing some group photos I handed Peter Hesseldenz the camera and took my place beside Judy. All of the women in this photo worked with Ceci during her fellowship, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say she is a real breath of fresh air. She’s really smart, funny, and she’s always in a good mood even when her allergies are misbehaving. Someone in another group photo, I’m not sure who, sounded a bit disparaged at the possibility they’d end up in the outhouse. So, instead, I put a picture of myself in the outhouse. I also happen to be with four of my favorite people, one of whom could have been the critic for all I know. In any case, I’m proud to be part of their world, and I’m honored to have them part of mine. I hope they don’t mind that I share my joy of them with Netizens, as my friend Jimmy Duckworth calls readers of the internet. I love how fun we look in this picture. It makes me happy.