Mr. Burleson Goes to Washington Part Three: SLJ Day Two and Meeting Special Folks!

I’m going to combine the last two days into one installment.  Sunday began in a bit of a frazzled way.  I had planned on waking early and having plenty of time to practice my presentation for later that day.  Well, that didn’t happen.  In fact, I completely forgot to turn on the volume of my phone and woke up to a beautiful, sunny Sunday; three hours later than I wanted to!  So, I quickly got things together and rushed to the conference ballroom.  Once there, I was able to re-gather myself and work through my presentation notes a few times.

There was an excellent panel on what it means to be a ‘Future Ready Librarian.’ The presenter John Chastra of Every Library, share these awesome graphics that help communicate what it means to be ‘future ready.’

I was honored to be the final keynote speaker.  If you want, you can see my presentation here:

There were so many people to thank, and of course I needed to capture the moment in photos!

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After a nap, I headed out into DC on my scooter!  The first stop was the Smithsonian Gallery of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery.  It’s amazing how quickly you can cruise through a gallery on a knee scooter!  I had several of the security folks do a double take.  They initially wanted to scold me for bringing a scooter into the gallery, but then realized I needed it because of my knee.  I barely made it into the DC Public Library, in fact, I only had time to visit the main entrance and see the incredible art work that focused on MLK Jr.

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The exposed aggregate sidewalks and brick pavers took their toll on my knee and body.  I was exhausted and decided to stop and have dinner at a very cool Cuban themed restaurant called Cuba Libre.  It was an early night for me.  I had big plans for the next day!

Here are just SOME of the incredible books I brought home with me!

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The next morning I met my good friend Jim, who lives in Baltimore.  We headed to the Library of Congress where I was eager to meet the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden.

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It probably sounds like hyperbole to say that meeting the Librarian of Congress was one of the biggest events of my life, but it is not.  We got there a few minutes early and were invited in to her main receiving room area.  My friend Jim and I struck up a conversation with the library of Congress photographer and her administrative staff.  Turned out that Dr. Hayden had spent the morning at the brand new Museum of African-American History and was running a few minutes late.  When she arrived, she greeted me with a giant hug and as we walked into her main office she clung to me like a mom or a grandmother would do.  We spent the next 45 minutes chatting about libraries, the award, the state of STEAM education in America and what’s next for school libraries.  She was an amazing listener.  I kept trying to pull the conversation back to her and her work and she turned it right back to me.  She was warm, inviting and kind.  I felt like she and I had been friends for years.  She briefly reflected on her time in Chicago, her work to renew the Library of Congress and her desire to continue to be on the cutting edge of what’s coming.  She actually invited me to be on an advisory board with her for bringing not just STEAM, but adding the ‘R’ for reading to the equation.  I immediately said, “YES!”

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I floated out of her office and could have probably carried myself home without the airplane.  My next stop was the Kaboom! headquarters.  Kaboom! is the company behind both Rigamajig and The Imagination Blocks.  I have been a HUGE fan of both for the last year and a half and Rigamajig even made it onto the cover of School Library Journal with me.  The young staff members at Kaboom! have been tremendous to work with over that time and I was eager to visit their unique and very cool workspace.  It did not disappoint!

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You can kind of see it in the image of me with my friend Jim and the Kaboom! staff, but the Rigamajig team made me an amazing award out of Rigamajig!

I totally love how this is done to look like a smile!  It sure did make me smile!

After a trip to the airport and balancing my suitcase, which now weighed over 50 pounds due to all the books that were in it, I hauled myself and my luggage through the terminal and flew home to Milwaukee.  It was an incredible experience, one that I will never forget.  I am incredibly grateful to my family for putting up with my insane schedule the last year and a half and to the Winnetka community.  If it were not for the constant support and encouragement from colleagues, parents, administration and most importantly, the students,  none of this could have happened. To all of them I offer a hearty THANK YOU!

And now, I’m back to reality.  I need to put my ‘librarian’ hat on and get back to work; there’s no resting on laurels here!

One thought on “Mr. Burleson Goes to Washington Part Three: SLJ Day Two and Meeting Special Folks!

  1. David Bean

    Dr. Hayden seems to be a really interesting person. I wonder how it is possible that such people gravitate to such positions? I am glad that Reading is added to that committee. I really worry about that.
    The award from Rigamathing is really neat.
    I still think it sucks that the association does not include the family of the recipient in the event. As you point out very clearly they had to put up with a highly demanding several months of a crazy schedule.


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