Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Quietest Excursion Ever?

Friday was a stinker, weather wise, but traveling to the (NSW) State Library for the Australian launch of Room to Read was well worth the trip. The fact that some of Australia's top Young Adult authors got to hang out with me was a bonus ... or maybe it was the other way around.

For non-USA library folks, meet Susanne Gervay, Libby Hathorn, and Melina Marchetta (pictured above) with me. My latest coiffure was courtesy of the early morning start and the extreme heat.

Getting a free copy of John Wood's book (Leaving Microsoft to Change the World) wasn't any problem at all - it was included in the 'show bag'. Having him sign his book was also only a matter of lining up and waiting; I guess he's used to library folk closely supervising what he writes. After all, we don't want any scribbling, do we?

But the whole point of Room to Read is to support the establishment of school libraries in developing countries. Who knew that only US$15,000 was enough to build a whole school in Nepal? A handful of very small schools in my area did some fund raising, and were able to present a cheque for AUD$8,000. Even without the fluctuations in exchange rates, that's half a school already paid for.

The two students from my school that traveled with me on The Excursion also got a tour of the State Library. They were pretty much blown away not only by sheer volume (no pun intended); we descended down into the bowels of closed stacks, saw mammoth OldSystem catalog cards and cabinets (pre 1980 acquisitions, all undergoing entry into the LibraryManagementSystem); the Historical Records bit, etc. A big day.

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