I’ve been hedging writing this post over the last couple of days. I should have written it last week when it was fresh and new and, well, pre-hurricane. It’s now hard to muster the excitement for the day when you see pictures like this and this from Atlantic City. The Atlantic City Historical Museum (our first stop) sits on a pier jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean between the Showboat and the Revel casinos putting it squarely in the path of the storm surge and the hurricane (pictured above). I can’t even link to the Atlantic City Public Library (the institution that manages the museum) or the museum’s website since both are down and will probably stay down till the city isn’t flooded. As a Jersey born, raised, and proud person, the images of Atlantic City and the other shore communities have been really heartbreaking.
It’s somewhat hard to fathom that it was only a week ago that Sophie and I hopped into the car and took a trip to visit three very different and very awesome libraries in New Jersey. We tried to document and incorporate everything that we saw or heard from our stops into the NJ Library Roadshow Tumblr, but there really is just too much. In doing the research for the Roadshow, even the little bits of trivia about the towns and areas we’d be passing through provided a glimpse into the state’s varied history of gangsters, political refuges, and natives.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it proved to me that the roadshow format is something that can be done in other states as part of overall advocacy efforts. It’s a library talent showcase that brings the best to the forefront, it can be done on a shoestring budget, and (most importantly) it’s fun. I’d encourage anyone interested in doing it in their state to look through the Tumblr, check out our posts, and feel free to contact myself or Sophie for more details.
As I get news from my peers around the state in the storm aftermath, there are many stories and pictures of people filling the library for a warm spot to sit, a place to recharge their devices, and to get back online to connect with friends and family as well establish a brief sense of normalcy. I can attest to the same at my library judging from the full tables and every outlet being used to charge one thing or another. There were many “Are you open?” calls as well as people attesting that they didn’t know the library offered wifi, internet access, or printing. (I wish I was kidding about those last two but, alas, I am not.) It certainly puts a new spin on the motto, “Libraries are Essential”, and shows how the library helps its communities in short term needs.
Many thanks go out to Don Latham and Heather Perez at the Atlantic City Public Library, Dee Venuto at Rancocas Valley High School in Mount Holly, Katie Anderson at the Paul Robeson Library of Rutgers-Camden, and Linda Devlin and David Lisa at the Camden County Library System for allowing us to come and show off their libraries. More thanks to Peg Cadigan, Tiffany McClary, Heidi Cramer, and State Librarian Mary Chute for including the Roadshow in this year’s New Jersey Library Snapshot Day.