As it became a weekly inquiry - “How’s the cocktail coming, Barb?” it occurred to us that [a] it might be time for an intervention and [b] we all had a hunger (or thirst, if you will) for the more social aspect of the conference.
Within what seemed like minutes of our first discussion Luke began a Spotify list of great library songs. Alix curated a list of mid-20th century library videos. We settled on The Library Story - a little gem from 1952 for our chosen movie. We put it up on VideoAnt and let the jokes write themselves. (Which they did not, feel free to add some if you like.) She also began a hilarious padlet called “Why We Weed” including such gems as Bel-Air Bambi and the Mall Rats, When Drugs Came to Josh’s Street and of course, the ever popular The Excretory System. Patsy demanded equal time for books that aren’t tragically out of date and started a “What’s on YOUR bookshelf?” padlet that continues to feed my to-be-read pile.
But we needed some activities where people could meet up and socialize.
Ella volunteered to host morning meditation, perhaps sensing the necessity for a calming effect on some of us. Morgan had mentioned she had led some Art Therapy activities in her school and we agreed that would be a fun opening event. Alix had been hosting parties in her backyard - the online game platform, not a physical place - and that seemed a great place to get together. We all agreed that we should have a low-key get together on Saturday night after the awards ceremony - just conversation. Sunday we would have a more structured selection of activities; Alix would have Backyard games, I had some book-related games that I was dying to play with librarians and Patsy just wanted to talk books.
All of a sudden we had an agenda! But how to organize?
My mother has become obsessed with bitmoji. (Where else can a woman in her 80s get a picture of herself riding a giant chicken?) I had seen amazing bitmoji classrooms from fellow educators but knew I would never have the time to learn how to make them - until it became a fun emergency. One quick-and-dirty YouTube tutorial later and I had built a fun room. Others added to it and, frankly, it looks WAY too busy. But I enjoyed learning a new skill, and everyone added their own flair.
Soon we had links to our activities, a killer choice board for Saturday night and even some international librarians sharing their experience. Things were just about as fun as they could get. Then Reba and Luke unveiled their masterwork - the photo scavenger hunt! If you click on no other link in this story, make sure you view the results, particularly Morgan’s baby picture where she clearly shows a love of reading and no patience for anyone’s nonsense.
It was all coming together.
The final piece was the how-to video for the signature cocktail. But we needed an option for teetotalers. And one for people who were loath to purchase fancy booze for a virtual conference. So we split the work. Alix channeled her inner Stanley Tucci and created a classy cocktail. Patsy COMPLETELY DISREGARDED THE RECIPE and made a delicious alcohol-free treat. And I shamelessly used whatever I had around the house to fashion a workable alternative that was enormous and tasty. However, we ended up with nearly 20 minutes of videos - so I cut them together in the Reader’s Digest version that gives the idea of a recipe without any annoying measuring or restraint. It may be my greatest contribution to society thus far.
We sent out the bitmoji board and a less-visually-assaultive document and waited for the fun to begin. And it did.
At this point I will just give a quick recap of the events. You can check out the music, movie, padlets and, of course, scavenger hunt results on your own. I will try (unsuccessfully) to recreate the excitement of all the events.
Create and Connect - Morgan did a fantastic job of leading us through a doodling exercise and a non-dominant hand portrait game. Hopefully the technology exists for the near-photographic-quality picture I drew of Alix to run in this story! Speaking of Alix, she also reconfigured a book art project that Laura Harrington presented at an earlier Area Event for people to do during the conference. I can confidently say that a grand time was had by all.
Saturday Night Social - I was so nervous about having awkward silences that I rounded up some conversation starters like “What did you get into the most trouble for when you were young?” and “If you got a tattoo what would you get and where would you put it?” But they proved completely unnecessary. There was nonstop conversation and lots of laughs.
Mindful Morning Meditations - This was a great start to the day. Ella walked us through breathing and mindfulness exercises that made me feel clear and ready to take on the day.
Sunday Night Games - Alix and I were thinking - “Are we going to have enough spaces in the game rooms for everyone?” and Patsy was worrying that no one would want to just come and chat. We had it completely bass-ackwards! After a minor zoom glitch it became clear that everyone just wanted to connect rather than compete. And so we all convened in Patsy’s room for more conversation and collegiality. It was delightful.
Who knows what next year will look like? Will we still be conferencing virtually or will we be spending Sunday night laughing in a hotel bar as the conference-gods intend? Either way, one thing is for sure - MSLA will keep providing high-quality content for conference-goers without forgetting the fun.
Many thanks to Patsy Divver, Morgan Keohane, Luke Steere, Ella Stocker, Reba Tierney and Alix Woznick for making this the funnest of fun planning.