Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Librarian Love Potion Number 9

Or, How to Cut Through the Law Porn and Win Their Hearts and Minds!

Jim throws down the gauntlet in "Librarians, Dark Secrets and Law Porn." I have been thinking about this for years, ruminating in my tower (well, my office). We really have turned into little library mousies ourselves, haven't we? I'm afraid we have started to believe their awful lies! Our students and alumni actually do have fond memories of the library (at least some of them do, darn it!)

I think the smartest thing I have seen in a long time is the current director of the Social Law Library here in Boston, Robert Brink's plan to bring senior partners back to his library. He began a series of talks and events several years before he knew his renovation would be complete. Inviting intriguing authors, including judges, to give talks, and then inviting select members of the senior bar, to these events. He figures out that what many lawyers longed for was to return to a rich life of the mind. They began to see the Social Law Library as a culturally enriching place where they could go to mingle with pals they knew in their professional life, remembered from school, but then could go a step beyond and stretch their brains. The Athenaeum here in Boston and one in Philadelphia has lasted a very long and disinguished time on the same career.

I think people still want to think of those stately lions outside the New York Public Library, the grand facade of the Boston Public Library, and other great libraries as the cultural bastions. They would like to ally themselves and bathe themselves in that aura. We would be smart to pick up on this and run with it, I think. I give a faculty tea once a year in the library. This is not an event at which you learn anything. But I have been astounded at the turn-out where faculty just love to come for a "civilized" moment in THE LIBRARY. Wow. I bake the stuff myself, and make tea in pots for them. After I did it the first time, it got a lot easier, and boy, the pay-off is great. It's a Boston-themed thing, so maybe you need to do something local, or that suits you. But faculty long to be loved. If you do something for them, it's amazing how pleased they are. And a tea party, for heavens' sake, is a pretty small taste of civilization. I think it's because I do the stuff myself, that I get the bang for the buck. Love Potion Number 9.

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